Now, a few words about MoneySense

Best place to live a subjective and complex

Today, I am going to turn my attention to the latest skewering of North Battleford by the national “fake news” media.

This time, the fake news was in MoneySense, who came out with yet another one of their “Best Places to Live in Canada” lists.

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This year, 415 communities were included in the annual survey. Communities are ranked on criteria such as demographics, housing affordability, health care, taxation levels, the daily commute, the weather and, everyone’s favourite, crime.

Of course, North Battleford got the shaft. The city placed 333rd, the exact same dismal finish as last year. But look on the bright side, at least North Battleford finished ahead of Yorkton.

What has been most surprising is that a few years ago North Battleford was doing pretty well with MoneySense. They were ranked in the top 50. Since then, they’ve opened the CUplex, the movie theatre was totally renovated, the downtown has gotten a total facelift and they’ve torn down dump buildings like the notorious “Pigeon Hotel.” We’ve even hosted big events like the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling and the Saskatchewan Winter Games. The new Sask. Hospital is almost complete as well.

You would think North Battleford’s ranking with MoneySense would be way up. Instead, it’s way down.

I don’t know what to say anymore.

What boggles my mind is who the big winners were in this survey. The best place to live in the prairie region, according to MoneySense, is Weyburn for the second year in a row.

Why Weyburn is number one, I have no idea. I’m sure the neighbourhoods and schools in Weyburn are very nice, but the place strikes me as boring as heck.

Their biggest claim to fame is that their local KFC has a buffet. Big deal, there are hundreds of other cities across Canada where you can also get (a) a buffet, or (b) KFC. And it’s as miserable in winter in Weyburn as it is in the rest of Saskatchewan.

As for the national rankings, Oakville finished first overall as the best place to live in all of Canada.   

That’s yet another place that is boring as heck. Literally the most interesting thing there is their golf course, Glen Abbey. So if you’re a golfer, Oakville would definitely be first on your list. For the rest of us duffers, not so much.

What boggles my mind about Oakville is that they finished first despite some big-time disadvantages about life there.

Their commute times have to rank around the worst in the whole country. Many of the people who live there actually work in Toronto, so they have to travel back and forth each day.

Have you ever tried going down the Gardiner Expressway during rush hour? You’re forever stuck in traffic jams, and it’s even more sweltering during the summer months! To avoid that, there is the GO Train, but that also takes a long time and everyone is packed in like sardines. 

I can also tell you from my own experience living in the GTA that Oakville was locally notorious as the place where the Toronto criminals would go to commit property crimes.

In fact, right across the GTA, homeowners have to spend all kinds of money on home security, and for dog food for the ugly-looking watchdogs they need in order to scare the criminals away.

The good news is once you get home from your deadly commute from Toronto, and once you’ve fed your watchdog, you’ll be all set to enjoy life in Oakville, the best place to live in all of Canada!

I guess my point here is this annual MoneySense survey, from top to bottom, is clearly just guessing. Their rankings are of no use whatsoever.   

In fact, whether or not a place is a “best place to live” really comes down to intangibles and personal factors, such as the stage of life you are at, whether you’re single, married, have kids, are retired, etc. 

Here’s a couple of big factors: “friends” and “family.” You can live in this wonderful neighbourhood with great schools, great sidewalks and well-lit streets, but if you (a) don’t have any close friends living nearby or (b) are far from family, it can be tough.

I can tell you, from personal experience, this is a big deal.  

Another factor is jobs. Not just quantity of jobs, but also quality.

Again, you can live in this wonderful house or condo in this wonderful neighbourhood, with wonderful schools and wonderful hospitals and so on and so forth. But if you have to hold some miserable job that demands long hours at the office on evenings and weekends, just to pay the bills, then what’s the point? Conversely, if your job is enjoyable, that can make up for a lot of other inconveniences, -30 C weather for example.

The other thing to consider is that this notion of a “best place to live” survey assumes the readers have a real choice in the matter. A lot of people have no option but to go where the job offer is, whether they are interested in living there or not.

A lot of times, people can’t even live in the cities where their jobs are, because the real estate there is too expensive. They are forced to commute from somewhere more affordable.

Think of the plight of millennials. That generation is known to want to balance a good work life with a good quality of life, but a lot of them are getting frustrated. Many of them are getting stuck in lousy contract positions, and because they aren’t making enough money, they are being priced out of the neighbourhoods and cities where they would really prefer to live.

It’s gotten so bad in Canada that many millennials are packing up and leaving the country for jobs in places like Asia, where costs are lower and career options are more plentiful, and where there is far less of a rat race to deal with.

That is one thing this MoneySense survey is missing: many Canadians are increasingly concluding that their own “best place to live” is actually “not Canada.”  

This is all food for thought. The bottom line is the whole notion of a good place to live really is a subjective one for each individual. There are a host of factors that come into play that have absolutely nothing to do with the criteria used by these arbitrary quality-of-life surveys that keep showing up in the media.

So, North Battleford, quit worrying about MoneySense. Make up your own minds, and keep on with efforts to make North Battleford a better place to live.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist

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