Mar 6, 2013

Number 9

I'm not sure if you heard, but Lake County Illinois made it to number 9 on the Forbes 2013 'Most Miserable Cities to Live'. Despite being one of the richest counties in the US, the reasons quoted by Forbes are the plummeting housing prices, high property tax, long commuting times and lousy weather. Somewhat ironically, I learned about this at an offsite meeting for my work on Friday, when we were discussing why we're having a hard time recruiting talent to our company. 

Somewhat more ironically, coming home from Friday's offsite meeting, I found the local newspaper 'The North Shore Weekend' in the mail, which had an aerial picture of the area on its cover page with the headline 'Best Reasons to Live on the North Shore'.

The aerial picture indeed is appealing - a wooded area along the lakefront, on a nice bright summer day, with Chicago's skyline glistening in the distance. No lousy weather, no traffic jams, no foreclosed homes. The best reasons quoted are the three C's: the North Shore towns abound with culture, community and charm. Granted, only the Northern half of the North Shore is in Lake County, but I guess this paper has a different publisher than Forbes Magazine. Even more so, the southern half of the North Shore shares its county with the city of Chicago, which made it to number 4 on Forbes' list for mainly the very same reasons Lake County made it to the 9th spot. Next to Chicago's ranking, the greater Chicago metropolitan area actually turned out to be a 2013 hotspot for Forbes misery: Rockford IL at #3, Lake County to Chicago's north at #9, Milwaukee WI at #14 and Gary IN at the southside at #19.

The North Shore Weekend does list the least and most expensive house currently on the market in the area: Highland Park tops the list with a 21 million dollar mansion - not sure if that price has plummeted as well, but we do know that the property tax for a prospective buyer will be more than the income of an average household.


So what's going on here? How come a national magazine's opinion is so different from a local one's? It's probably a matter of perspective, or mere opinion, but it still is interesting that Forbes decided to

  1. add a suburban county to its list of most miserable cities, and 
  2. rank that rich suburb as more miserable than places like Gary IN and Youngstown OH, generally seen as pretty rundown, or the most impoverished city of all: Camden NJ. 

It's also interesting to chat with the locals around here; when they ask where our accent is from, the next question almost always is "so why did you end up here?" Our answer? "Work", which ironically does not start with a C.


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