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Site To See: Ferrets Out Hot Spots

Written by on Thursday, 06 February 2003 6:00 pm

You know the lists -- "Best Places to Live," "Healthiest Cites for Women," "Best Cities For Women," "Best Places To Retire," "Great College Towns," "Best Places To Buy A Second Home" and even "Best Places To Raise An Outdoor Family."

What you may not know is that they are all lists generated by the Internet's leading Best-Place-For-This-Or-That list generator, Bert Sperling's Portland, OR-based

At only two years old and still an online upstart, the Web site navigates with the kind of unfettered aplomb the World Wide Web's original designers must have hoped for from Web sites.

That's largely because Sperling has been analyzing people and place data offline for 14 years before he went virtual.

Now his efforts are packaged in an ad-free, unassuming, uncluttered and intuitive interface that lives up to the task at hand -- effortlessly and quickly finding the place where you want to be.

"We try and make the point of keeping it up to date and not swayed by any interest. A lot of people are depending on it more and more all the time and we think it's a responsibility that we remain independent," said Sperling, boasting 10,000 users a day, a number that jumps by a factor of five when one of its lists gets the site mentioned in the media.

The virtual realty reality scheme to find the best locations considers a host of variables beyond the usual schools, jobs and crime measurements to take you places you likely haven't even considered.

"Best Cities for Teens," "Top 25 Asthma Hot Spots," "America's Sweetest Cities," "Most Photogenic Cities," "Most Romantic Cities," "Best and Worst Cities for Skin Care," "Pet Healthiest Cities," and even the "Worst Places for Fleas" are among the unusual locations also pinpointed by

You needn't wait or search for the latest list in Money, SELF, Men's Journal, Ladies Home Journal, Newsweek, Seventeen, SmartMoney, Kiplinger's or a host of other affiliate publications.

To help you find your ideal community, the Web site offers an online search engine, a questionnaire called "Find Your Best Place," that lets you consider three and a half dozen determining factors spread over nine categories -- climate, economy, housing, education, health, crime, recreation, arts and culture and transportation.

Once you've found the location of your dreams you can obtain greater detail from the City Profiles and Comparisons section. With statistics for nearly 1,000 U.S. cities the Cities area also offers an in-depth look at what makes locations tick. A comparison feature with 3,000 cities lets you face off two towns for a comparison. Being updated and in the works are a feature that allows you to sort cities in best and worst categories, ZIP code level detail about neighborhoods and a facilities finder for locating the nearest services and retailers.

Other features include:

  • Crime Rates -- Crime statistics are available for more than 2,500 U.S. cities and 328 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) compiled from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports on murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. The area also offers crime rate comparisons over time, among cities and against the national average.

  • Climate Profiles -- Sort through detailed annual climate data for 320 U.S. locations, climate profiles for 1,700 locations worldwide, and climate charts for 100 of the world's most popular destinations.

  • Cost of Living -- This area offers cost-of-living and salary calculators to determine how much more or less it will cost you to move to a different city; to compare two cities side-by-side in cost-of-living categories -- taxes, housing, food, and others and to determine what your new salary needs to be to maintain your cost of living in another city.

  • School Statistics -- Using data from the National Center for Education Services, offers information on 85,000 schools in more than 15,000 school districts. You can also use this area to find special education, vocational, and alternative schools, pupil/teacher ratios, support staff levels, money spent per student by district, racial and ethnic diversity levels and more.
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      About the author, Broderick Perkins

    Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.