I wrote a post detailing the problems with measures Forbes used to call Cleveland the most miserable city. In most respects, we aren't that bad. I thought about the reasons I came back to Cleveland from Baltimore. Of these, housing was foremost.
The median house in the Cleveland area, as of March, 2009, sold for $134,680, as compared with $202,300 nationally. At the same time, the median income in the Cleveland area was $47,501, compared with $44,684 nationally.
Housing is usually the biggest portion of any family budget. Here, we have incomes slightly higher than the national average, yet our houses only cost 2/3 as much. This leaves more money for us to spend on other things - and isn't that what makes the real difference between misery and happiness? Would you rather live someplace with better weather, have a smaller house, and worry more about making the mortgage payments?
Below is the post I wrote originally.
When I saw that Forbes called Cleveland the most miserable metro area in the United States, I was surprised. I don't feel miserable. In fact, I feel a lot less miserable than I did in the last city I lived in, Baltimore, Maryland, which didn't even make the list. This puzzled me.
My first thought was to wonder what criteria were used to create the list.
Unemployment is a problem in Cleveland, as in the rest of the United States. As of December, the unemployment for Cleveland, 8.9%, was actually less than the U.S. average, 10.6%.
Taxes (both sales and income)
Our taxes are high. This isn't necessarily bad. Taxes pay for public services - if we want to spend more money on these things, that's our choice. It's why Ohio has the best public libraries in the country.
According to the American Community Survey, as of 2008, the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had an average commute time of 23.8 minutes, slightly less than the national average of 25.3 minutes.
According to this table, as of 2007, the city of Cleveland had the 13th highest rate of violent crime among the large cities selected. According to Sperling's Best Places, violent crime in the Cleveland MSA as a whole is below the national average.
Professional sports teams
This metric was based on the records of these teams over the past two years, not on ticket sales or amount of enjoyment received from watching the games. If the sports teams made us miserable, we'd stop buying tickets, right?
The weather here does leave quite a bit to be desired. It's worth noting that the average January and July temperatures are, according to Sperling's Best Places, relatively close to the national average. The big differences are that we get more precipitation and have more cloudy days.
The word can strike fear in some hearts. There's a good side to Superfund program - it gets the most polluted sites cleaned up and forces the polluters to pay for it. This is better than the sites either remaining polluted or having to spend local taxes to clean them up.
Forbes based this on the number of convictions of public officials for corruption. Thus, this isn't so much a measure of corruption as either getting caught or of the strength of the local criminal justice system.