Rating the Towns 2009

 

(To check out our ratings for the smaller towns, click here.)

Even as your eye moves across a state as small as Connecticut, with all its 169 towns, there are many, many differences, both obvious and subtle, to be seen. We all know about the obvious differences-one town is on the water, another nestles in the hills, etc. But seeing the subtle differences can be trickier. For instance, there are cities and towns where the schools are especially good, or where crime is virtually nonexistent, where the cost of living is reasonable and jobs are relatively plentiful.

But where are these places, and how do they compare with one another? That's what we wanted to find out as we returned for the first time since 2006 to update our exclusive ranking of Connecti­cut's towns. First, we sorted the cities and towns into four population groups: 50,000 and above, 25,000 to 50,000, 15,000 to 25,000 and 10,000 to 15,000 (the towns with populations below 10,000 will have their own ranking next March). Then we collected all the data we could find in the areas that are most important to most people: public schools, crime, cost of living, local economy and leisure and cultural outlets. Finally, we crunched all the numbers, and present on the pages that follow the rankings for towns in each group.

Whether you're thinking of relocating to Connecticut, moving to a new town or just curious to see how your town rates among its neighbors, these rankings can be a useful starting point. Many people do use them in making their decisions. As always, we understand that there are many reasons for loving a place-or not loving it-that can go far beyond the results you see here.   

The Numbers We Used

EDUCATION: This category combines five elements: the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Mastery Test results for 4th, 6th and 7th grades; results of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT); local SAT scores for 2006, 2007 and 2008  and the percentage of 2007 public high school graduates who went on to two- or four-year colleges. Test scores are weighted more heavily.

ECONOMY: The strength of the local economy was determined by the 2009 Public Investment Community score, compiled by the Office of Policy and Management, which rates all Connecticut towns under a formula based on population, per capita income, the adjusted equalized grand list per capita, the unemployment rate, the equalized mill rate and per capita aid to children.

COST OF LIVING: This category weigh most heavily the median price of a single-family house purchased in 2008 and the first half of 2009, a figure that predicts many other local expenses; it also includes the local property tax burden based on the 2007 equalized mill rate.

CRIME: This category is based on major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor-vehicle theft) committed in 2004, 2005 and 2006 per 1,000 population.

LEISURE/CULTURE: Includes local library expenditures per capita, the number of theaters, museums, festivals, concert venues, historic sites, colleges and universities, golf courses, local newspapers, radio stations, state parks and forests, voter turnout in the 2008 election and good local restaurants.

Rating the Towns 2009

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