Despite the fact that local residents have enjoyed several straight weeks of wonderful family fun and entertainment including Arts in the Heart of Augusta and the Westobou Festival, the Garden City can’t seem to catch a break.
Just last month, Augusta was ranked as one of the worst places to raise a family, according to WalletHub, the personal finance website.
“Planning to settle down with a spouse and some kids?” a recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked. “One study suggests you should think twice before considering Augusta.”
In the ranking of the “2017 Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family,” Augusta ranked No. 143 of the 150 most populated cities in country.
WalletHub stated that Augusta scored low in the fields of family fun, health and safety, education and child care, and affordability and socioeconomics.
Augusta ranked only No. 136 in family fun; No. 132 in health and safety; No. 124 in education and child care; No. 116 in affordability (what?!?) and No. 126 in socioeconomics, according to WalletHub.
If nothing else, most people would have thought that Augusta would have ranked a lot higher on the list in terms of affordability.
And what about family fun?
With all of the festivals lately, Augusta is full of fun.
But according to WalletHub, the ranking is based on the number of playgrounds, median family salary, percentage of families living below poverty level and violent crime rates in each city.
Well, don’t feel too bad, Augusta. The Garden City wasn’t the only city in the Peach State to score poorly on the list.
In fact, Atlanta and Columbus also didn’t have the best of scores.
Atlanta ranked No. 124, while Columbus was No. 125.
It should be known that WalletHub is a 5-year-old, web-based financial services start-up based in Washington, D.C.
To generate web traffic and name recognition, they have decided to rank things. Many things. Don’t worry. If you receive a frownie face, they’ll have another ranking tomorrow that may turn that frown upside down.
Our point is, most of these rankings are marketing gimmicks. Let’s not get crazy here.
So, what are the best cities to raise a family, according to WalletHub?
No. 1 was Overland Park, Kansas (the site of the first airplane flight west of the Mississippi), No. 2 was Madison, Wisconsin (which happens to be a huge college party town), and No. 3 was Plano, Texas (which is located near Southfork Ranch, a site made famous as the setting for the TV series, “Dallas.” You know. Who shot J.R.?)
So maybe Augustans shouldn’t feel so bad. After all, WalletHub seems to have a beef with the Garden City.
Earlier this year, WalletHub ranked Augusta as one of the worst cities in the country to start a career.
Not only did WalletHub give Augusta such poor marks, but the fact that several national media outlets picked up the story and ran with it didn’t really help this city’s image.
“Of the 150 most populated cities in America, one Georgia city ranked among the worst places in the nation to start a career,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in May after WalletHub released its list. “In fact, Augusta came in third to last.”
Of course, the AJC was quick to point out that Atlanta was ranked very well on the list by WalletHub.
“With a total score of 68.72, Salt Lake City, Utah, was named the best city to start a career in 2017,” the AJC wrote. “Atlanta, which ranked sixth on the list, ranked in the top 10 for both professional opportunities and quality of life. But Georgia cities Columbus (No. 133) and Augusta (No. 148) were recognized as some of the country’s worst cities to start a career. Augusta received a total score of 36.03 and ranked 144th for professional opportunities and 143rd for quality of life. The only cities on the list with scores worse than Augusta were Newark, New Jersey, and Cleveland, Ohio.”
But the criticism didn’t stop there.
“Both Augusta and Columbus were also recognized as one of the 10 unhappiest cities in the country in WalletHub’s ‘Happiest Places to Live’ ranking for factors such as income/employment, emotional/physical well-being and community/environment,” the AJC wrote.
Using data from organizations such as the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau, WalletHub evaluated each city in areas such as depression, poverty rates, weather and employment opportunities.
Augusta was ranked No. 148 out of the 150 most populated cities in country as being the least-happiest places to live.
Poor Augusta. Our city was followed only by Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit at the very bottom of the list.
Our friends over in Columbus came in at No. 145. Unfortunately for them, this wasn’t the first time Columbus made such a list.
In 2014, Columbus was also named the seventh most miserable community in the county in a Gallup well-being poll, according to the AJC.
So where are the happiest cities in the country?
Well, pack your bags, because eight of the top 10 happiest cities in America are all the way across the country in California such as San Jose, Irvine and San Francisco.
But earning the top spot as the “happiest city in America” was Fremont, Calif., the home of singer MC Hammer, former All-Star baseball player Shawon Dunston, actress Meagan Tandy and Olympic gold medalist and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
But Augusta still claims James Brown.
So, stealing a phrase from our ol’ pal, MC Hammer, “Yeah, that’s how we’re livin’ and you know, you can’t touch this.”