West Hartford joins just three other Connecticut locations in earning a spot in CNNMoney Magazine's ranking of the top 100 places to live in 2012.
The results were unveiled Monday morning, with the top 10 locations featured in a segment of NBC's "Today Show."
West Hartford was ranked #72. Fairfield (#64), Greenwich (#29), and Hamden (#54) were the only other Connecticut towns on the list. Carmel, IN, earned the top rating for 2012.
"They measure all sorts of things, including things we can't influence like weather and air quality," said Town Manager Ron Van Winkle. An algorithm used by the data services company Onboard Informatics combines statistics for a myriad of factors, including cost of living, quality of education, quality of life, and local availability of arts and leisure activities.
"It's good to be on the list, and recognize West Hartford as one of the best places to be in America," Van Winkle said. He thought the town had a good shot at making the top 10, but said it's a statistical analysis, not someone's opinion.
"The [CNNMoney Magazine] reporter who came here to do this story said she'd like to live in West Hartford someday," Van Winkle said.
"Suburbs often compete with their big-city neighbor when it comes to nightlife and entertainment. Not so with West Hartford," states the write-up on CNNMoney's website. West Hartford is referred to as "the regional destination for fun," with diversity of retail and food offerings as well as entertainment options mentioned as highlights.
"Though property taxes are high, West Hartford's exceptional public schools (its ) are the payoff," states the write-up.
Student's high test scores, the town's well-educated population and high median family income, and proximity to abundant leisure activities compared favorably to the average for other towns in the top 100, while West Hartford compared unfavorably in areas such as sales tax, automobile insurance premiums, and job growth.
This year's "Best Places to Live" ranking focused on small cities, with population of 50,000 to 300,000. According to CNNMoney's website, there are more than 800 small cities in the United States. In 2011, CNNMoney ranked the top 100 small towns, with populations from 8,500 to 50,000.
In 2010, the last time small cities were ranked, West Hartford was #55. In 2008 West Hartford was ranked #76.