A.L. is No. 3 in national ranking

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

City is one of 10 top affordable towns in country

Albert Lea was listed as No. 3 in a listing of Top 10 affordable small towns where people would actually want to live, posted Monday on Realtor.com.

The article states the writers went beyond housing prices to identify places where crime and unemployment are low, where job opportunities abound, where buying a home is a relatively light financial burden and where there are fun and interesting things to do.

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The writers assessed more than 500 U.S. Census-designated micropolitan areas with populations of between 10,000 and 50,000 and then ranked them according to median list price.

A micropolitan area may include neighboring towns as well.

“It’s terrific news,” said Susie Petersen, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I think we can really be proud of our community. It shows we have a great quality of life here in Albert Lea. Look at the assets we have with our lakes and our parks.”

Three cities in both Minnesota and Iowa were included in the ranking, including Austin, ranked No. 5.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Ryan Nolander noted one of the reasons Albert Lea was included in the ranking was its low unemployment of 3.5 percent and the fact that there are many jobs available.

“It’s interesting that they took that into consideration,” Nolander said.

The article includes a photo of Fountain Lake at sunset with the fountains near Katherine Island.

It states Albert Lea has six lakes, offers opportunities for boating, fishing and canoes and that the median household earns about $47,715 each year. The median house list price is $100,000.

Top employers include the local medical center, area schools and Albert Lea Select Foods.

It also notes that in 2009, Albert Lea was chosen to kick off the AARP/Blue Zones Project, a community-wide initiative that implements habits of the communities around the world with the longest-living people. The project added years to the lives of residents through community, health and social programs.

The Top 10 in the ranking were as follows:

1. Oskaloosa, Iowa

2. Decatur, Indiana

3. Albert Lea

4. Newton, Iowa

5. Austin

6. Spencer, Iowa

7. Wahpeton, North Dakota

8. New Ulm

9. Lexington, Nebraska

10. Dumas, Texas

For all of the communities listed, the crime rate is less than the national average, and the unemployment rate is in the top 20th percentile in the entire country, the article stated.