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Issue Date: June 2009


Rating Your Questions

When does your Rating the Suburbs issue come out?

It’s the question I’m most often asked, even thoughCleveland Magazinehas published Rating the Suburbs in June every year since 1993. Yet, I never tire of hearing it, because what follows is almost always the same: I can’t wait. I look forward to that issue every year.

It’s a nice reminder of how much our readers (even the casual ones who only read an issue or two a year) value our annual look at where we live.

Yet, every year, I’m also faced with other questions as to how and why we rate the 76 communities. Hopefully, I can provide some answers.

Didn’t a group of suburbs choose not to participate this year? Did that get resolved?

Several members of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association did not fill out the original surveys we send to the mayors, police chiefs and schools superintendents each January. All of those suburbs eventually complied with our requests for public documents under Ohio’s public records law, which makes government records available to the media and regular citizens.

Why did they object?

They objected because the region is facing many challenges, and in order to tackle those issues, the group has been attempting to foster more cooperation among cities. “A survey rating the suburbs flies in the face of this spirit,” their letter argued.

Does it?

I don’t think so. Rating the Suburbs does not pit communities against each other, as some suggest. In fact, if communities share services that are factored into our rankings (such as an indoor pool or leaf pickup), each gets equal credit. Rating the Suburbs is the only place that all this information is available in one package, making it an extremely valuable resource.

So why not do away with the rankings?

Because our job is not just to passively present our readers with the mountains of data we collect. (There are 34 columns for 56 school districts in the education chart alone.) The rankings provide a way to look at the data based on what makes a place to live desirable to the widest range of people.

How do you determine the rankings?

Since 1993, the foundations for our ratings have been safety, education and housing. We’ve added others along the way, such as diversity and walkability. Scores are assigned to each category used in the rankings, with certain categories weighted more than others. Education and safety are given more weight than taxes, which is given more weight than environmental infractions. (For more on the methodology, see our foldout chart after page 116.)

In 2006, we commissioned a random survey of 400 suburban Clevelanders to see what people wanted in a community. Unsurprisingly, safety, schools and home value ranked at the top.

That survey prompted us to add walkability as a factor in our rankings and include more suburbs, such as Bainbridge, Kirtland and even this year’s No. 1. (Sorry, but I’m not spoiling the secret.) And with the economy adding greater importance on “value” in home values, this year’s best bargains list prominently shares space with our traditional top 20.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, right?

Of course not. Northeast Ohio offers a host of amazing places to live, whether you’re looking for urban bustle or small-town intimacy or anything in between. The shades of numerical difference between our communities are small. So this year, we felt the best way to introduce these places was through the people who know them best — those who live, work and volunteer in our towns and make them great. (You can read extended interviews at clevelandmagazine.com/suburbs.)

And if you’re in the market for a place to live, get out and explore all Northeast Ohio has to offer — and maybe do a little interviewing of your own.

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