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Farmington, Park City rank high among best places to live in America

Draper, Lindon also rate high in Money magazine list

Published: Monday, Aug. 12 2013 6:10 p.m. MDT

Daone and Lynn McComb of Layton visit Station Park in Farmington to go to a movie and shop, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — At night, Dave Millheim often asks himself one question.

"Did I do a good job today?"

Since his city just ranked No. 14 in Money magazine's 2013 list of Best Places to Live, apparently the answer for the Farmington city manager is: "Yes."

Two other Utah cities made the magazine's list, which was released Monday — Draper at No. 25 and Lindon at No. 29.

Cities and towns in Utah have a lot to offer, and people are catching on.

In addition to best places to live, Lindon was ranked No. 1 and Farmington No. 2 on the list of places with the highest ease of living, measured by commute time, population density and emotional well-being.

Farmington's wildlife also drew some attention in July when the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay was named first in Utah for USA Today's Best Wildlife Viewing Places.

Park City was ranked No. 1 as the Best Town in America by Outside magazine Monday, edging out 2013 finalists Bozeman, Mont., and San Diego. The magazine crowdsourced to discover Park City as America's "best place to be healthy," focusing on trailheads, opportunities for adventure, gear shops and farmer's markets.

"Park City feels like a Colorado ski town dropped into Utah’s 12,000-foot Wasatch Range, with one significant difference. Unlike Telluride or Aspen, it has a major city, Salt Lake, and an international airport 30 minutes away," the magazine said. "Local love for Park City can feel a little over the top — it got two-thirds as many votes in our contest (5,179) as it has residents."

Park City offers skiing, hiking, climbing, shopping and draws in tourists and media attention with its annual Sundance Film Festival. It has a population of 7,873 and median household income of $61,383. Home prices average $765,600 and unemployment hovers around 5.3 percent.

Money criteria

To determine its top 50 small towns in America, Money magazine started with towns in the U.S. with populations between 10,000 and 50,000. Next, the magazine eliminated areas with a median income of more than 200 percent or less than 85 percent of the median state income, then areas with poor scores in education or crime rates and towns where one race is more than 95 percent of the population.

Retirement communities and areas that had high job loss were taken out next. Money then ranked the rest by factors including the job market, upward movement of house values, cost and ease of living, economy, real estate and health care. Each state could only have three towns on the list, so extras were eliminated.

Representatives from Money magazine then interviewed residents about community aspects such as traffic, parks and community spirit.

Farmington

Farmington, at No. 14, enjoys median home prices of $281,047, according to Money, and its 19,135 citizens have a median annual income of around $88,375. That compares to an annual median household income of $57,783 in Utah and $52,762 nationwide between 2007 and 2011, according to data from the Census Bureau.

About one-third of Farmington's residents commute to Salt Lake City for work, but projects such as Station Park development, which has offices, restaurants, shopping and housing, may soon keep people closer to home, Money reported.

Farmington is also known for its outdoor recreation, with 19 biking, hiking and horse riding trails and a bird refuge.

"It's kind of a quaint rural feel," said Farmington resident Caitlin Wall.

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