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Coffee, Kayaking Help Seattle Top Fortune List

Lifestyle: It heads survey of 15 best U.S. cities to mix work and family life. L.A. doesn't make the cut.

October 22, 1996|From Associated Press

Seattle, where a less stressful life is possible despite all that coffee, leads a list of the 15 best U.S. cities to mix work with family life, according to Fortune magazine.

Toronto, "the safest city in North America," headed the magazine's annual picks of the five best international cities.

Washington, despite its urban crime and municipal finance woes, also made the rankings released Monday as No. 8. But New York, with its commuting ordeal, was excluded. So was L.A., or any other California city for that matter.

It was only the latest of the seemingly contradictory magazine rankings of ideal places that are often found at opposite ends of the compass. A list earlier this year by Money magazine had Washington at No. 128, and Forbes magazine this month didn't list Seattle on its boom or bust list for job creation.

In its list, Fortune for the first time went beyond evaluating cities on business criteria. With help from the Arthur Andersen consulting firm, it examined quality-of-life issues: incidence of crime, quality of schooling, availability of culture, the comforts of the suburbs and their accessibility.

"Life in a shady 'burb' is not so wonderful if you have to spend hours in traffic getting there," it said in dropping New York.

Quality of life is becoming more important to companies as they consider expansions and relocations, Geoffrey Precourt, a contributing editor who was co-author of the Fortune report, said Monday in releasing the survey, which will appear in the Nov. 11 issue.

When the balance of the ratings was shifted from 50-50 business and lifestyle to 45 for business and 55 for quality of life, "Seattle went off the chart," he said. When public education was ranked above a short commute, "Seattle went higher up."

"We're not resting on our laurels," said Seattle Mayor Norm Rice. "You try even harder when you're No. 1."

Denver was second to Seattle, followed by Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

No. 6 St. Louis was followed by Cincinnati, Washington, Pittsburgh, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Milwaukee and Nashville.

Among categories checked were the number of doctors, amount of state and local taxes, and the cost of a martini, real estate and movie tickets. Fortune also interviewed executives and economic development experts.

Money magazine earlier this year tabbed Madison, Wis., as the best place to live, based in part on a poll of readers on what they value, and part on its own research of 300 metropolitan areas. Fortune did not mention Madison in selecting just 15 U.S. cities and five from around the world. Money had Seattle ninth.

Forbes said Las Vegas was No. 1 in job creation, followed closely by Austin, Texas, and Boise, Idaho. Philadelphia, which ranked third in Fortune's best places rankings, was last in Forbes' standings for how cities stacked up on the basis of creating prosperity.

Fortune extolled Seattle's summer sunlight from morning until 10:30 p.m.--plenty of light to enjoy kayaking, even during the workweek.

On the international front, the magazine noted that "the best, most productive employees are those who have a life outside the office."

Toronto won points for low crime rates, clean streets, green spaces and accessibility to art, literature and movies.

London was second, followed by Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong.

The drawback for all international cities is the high cost of living.

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The Winners

Fortune magazine's ranking of the top 15 U.S. cities for both work and family life. The rankings are based both on business criteria and quality-of-life issues.

Top U.S. Cities

1. Seattle

2. Denver

3. Philadelphia

4. Minneapolis

5. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

6. St. Louis

7. Cincinnati

8. Washington

9. Pittsburgh

10. Dallas-Fort Worth

11. Atlanta

12. Baltimore

13. Boston

14. Milwaukee

15. Nashville

*

Top International Cities

1. Toronto

2. London

3. Singapore

4. Paris

5. Hong Kong

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