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'Ridiculously friendly people': Ames ranks 15 on Top 100 places to live list

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Artist Andrew Maahs works on a mural on Main Street in downtown Ames, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Ames, Iowa.

Ames has been listed at No. 15 on this year’s Top 100 Best Places to Live, according to Livability.com.

It’s the top-ranking Iowa community on the list, with Iowa City at No. 20, Des Moines at 83 and Cedar Rapids at 94.

"Welcome to Ames, home of Iowa State University, ridiculously friendly people and a quality of life you won’t find anywhere else," the Livability website says about Ames in the details of its rankings.

Livability.com looked at more than 1,000 cities that have populations between 20,000 and 1,000,000, using a variety of data to determine the rankings.

“We’ve routinely been in these rankings, but they never get tiresome,” said Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce.

Variables included “the economy, job opportunities and growth,” according to a news release from Livability.

“While Livability factored in obvious data points, such as unemployment rates, density of jobs and disposable income, other variables played a part in calculating each city’s opportunity score — like the percentage of households with high-speed broadband,” according to the news release.

This year, Livability also used data from Emsi, a labor market analytics company, that measured “the growth of high-paying jobs and overall wage growth.”

When combined with the other metrics, “these points offer a snapshot of the opportunity landscape of each city, and the potential for businesses and residents to thrive and grow,” the release stated.

“What we already know is that we’ve got a vibrant community that has a wide variety of amenities,” Culhane said. “We have a world-class research institution and a whole list of great private-sector companies.”

Creating a list of the best places to live in a year that has been “marked by uncertainty and disruption was challenging,” according to Winona Dimeo-Ediger, Livability.com editor-in-chief.

“The pandemic and ensuing economic turbulence made people rethink their commitment to big, expensive cities, and the rise of remote work provided a unique opportunity to live anywhere,” Dimeo-Ediger said in the news release. “The dust is still settling, but the chaos of this year made the things that have always mattered — affordability, safety, community and opportunity — matter even more. The small to mid-sized cities on Livability’s list offer exactly what people are looking for right now.”

Culhane said rankings like this aren’t really competitive since they rely on such a wide range of metrics.

“But at the end of the day, it’s great that Ames is ranked so highly,” he said. “And at the same time, there’s a number of other great Iowa communities that are on there as well.”