Bragging rights, increased property values and, last but not least, ego boosts. Those are all the byproducts every year when Cleveland Magazine publishes its annual “Rating the Suburbs” list. We are always proud of our Westshore suburbs (honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere but West). But perhaps, just maybe, our arms get a little twisted every year as we pat ourselves heartily on our backs for the good judgment of living where we live.
This year, the cities covered by West Life did us proud. In the top 20, Rocky River came out as No. 2; Westlake, No. 4; Bay Village, No. 8; Avon Lake, No. 14; and Avon No. 20. In addition, Fairview Park was featured as one of the “Best Places to Live.”
I’ve lived in two of the cities pulled out for recognition — Rocky River and Fairview Park. My nose is slightly bent out of shape because I am a huge fan of Lakewood. We lived in that suburb for 20 years, made a brief foray into a condo, realized we needed a yard and more freedom to decorate (yes, Christmas decorating played into our decision to move) and ended up moving to West Park, which is obviously not a suburb, although it feels like one. I LOVE West Park and we are only a half-block from the Lakewood border.
But darn it, why is Lakewood always left out? I believe it is because the very soul of the city is its diversity. And diversity is a hindrance when it comes to statistics. And all the lists are contingent on the numbers. Cleveland Magazine’s metrics are simple (and, I admit, logical): It looks at three main points: safety (i.e. crime stats), education and housing. In addition, it adds points for public services, diversity and walkability. Lakewood should kill in those last three, as well as education.
Scores are assigned to each suburb for every category. Those scores are based on the year’s available numbers. The category scores are added up, with some categories carrying more weight than others. As Cleveland Magazine writes, “Safety and education, for example, are given more weight than property taxes, which is given more weight than environmental infractions.”
The Top 20 suburbs with the highest combined scores are put in numerical order. Here is the magazine’s explanation of each city’s ranking. Solon was listed as the top suburb.
No. 2 Rocky River: A top five education rank and a 61.3% 10-year median home sale price increase helped last year's No. 4 suburb land once again in our top five.
No. 4. Westlake: In addition to top 20 safety and education rankings, this West Side spot has low taxes and, with amenities such as Crocker Park, is a favorite among Cleveland's top earners.
No. 8. Bay Village: Last year's second-best suburb is a walkable community tucked along the Lake Erie shoreline with a top-10 school district and a median home price of $285,000.
No. 14. Avon Lake: The fifth-safest suburb on our list saw 310 houses sell in 2019, the 15th most in the area, and has the 11th-best school district.
No. 20. Avon: The city with 2019's second-most home sales in the top 20 is also among the cities with the lowest taxes, boasts a top-15 school district and features a top-15 median home sale price of $315,000.
In a side story, Fairview Park received a “Best Places to Live” designation from the magazine, written by a resident. “Fairview Park: The West Side suburb is perfect for young families and first-time homebuyers” was the lead sentence.
If I were going to pick any place in the world — other than maybe Aruba or the Cayman Islands — to be self-isolating, it would be in one of Cleveland’s western suburbs (or West Park).
We certainly are the “best location in the nation.”
Contact this reporter at email@example.com or 440-871-5797.