Report names Albert Lea one of top cities in U.S. to live

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ranking cites affordability, quality of life statistics


Albert Lea was ranked as one of the top 50 cities to live in the U.S. in a recent ranking undertaken by a national publication.

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The city was ranked No. 44 in the survey released Friday by 24/7 Wall Street, a Delaware-based corporation that runs a financial news and opinion company with content delivered over the internet.

24/7 Wall Street created a weighted index of more than two-dozen measures to identify the best cities to live in, which fell into one of four categories: the affordability of the community, as well as economic, quality of life and community statistics. 

According to the rankings, “a number of Minnesota cities rank among the best cities to live, and of these, Albert Lea is by far the most affordable.”

“Nationwide, the typical home is worth 3.3 times the national median income,” the report said. “In Albert Lea, the typical home has a value of $95,200, just 2.3 times the city’s median household income of $41,128. Overall, goods and services are 19 percent less expensive in Albert Lea than they are nationwide on average.”

The publication called Albert Lea “safe, with one of the lowest annual violent crime rates in the country of just 85 incidents per 100,000 people, compared to a national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.”

Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Susie Petersen said the survey reveals the quality of the community.

“We are a great city to live in,” she said.

To Petersen, Albert Lea has an extraordinarily beautiful town that features 43 parks and a renovated downtown district, along with free community events and attractions such as the splash pad and Wind Down Wednesday and Thursdays on Fountain events, as well as shows at Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

“It’s the quality of life,” she said, adding the city’s inclusion on such lists increases its national profile.

To Petersen, Albert Lea is the top city to live in southern Minnesota based on its natural attractiveness and location near two interstates.

“It all starts with a visit,” she said.

Petersen spoke of the role residents have taken, such as on projects like the Blue Zones and local “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” work.

She noted the city, Freeborn County, Albert Lea school district, local health care providers, the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and Albert Lea Parks and Recreation staff collaborated to implement Blue Zones.

Petersen said Albert Lea was selected to host the Governor’s Fishing Opener after 11 organizations issued their letters of support.

“That tells a lot about our community,” she said. 

A majority of the list is comprised of Midwestern communities.

According to 24/7 Wall Street, the cities on the list have less than 25,000 people and feature low violent and property crime rates.

“Even if not always affluent, they are usually affordable,” according to the publication. “They are also often steeped in history, culture and opportunities for entertainment.”

The publication stated residents of the cities “often take an active interest in the quality of their community.” 

According to the publication, only 10 percent of towns and cities in the Midwest have a higher cost of living than the national average, and in the Northeast, 78 percent of cities and towns have goods and services more expensive than national averages.

“Many of the best cities to live in are suburbs of much larger cities,” the publication stated. “Jobs tend to be concentrated in major cities, which partially explains the low unemployment rates in many communities on this list. Several cities on this list are within commuting distance of major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.”

Petersen said the city has a “huge” potential for growth based on the expansion of Riverland Community College and the city’s quality of life, lakes, bike trails and nearby location of Myre-Big Island State Park.

She spoke of the recent growth of startup company Mortarr and the positive effect she believes the business is having on the community.

Petersen said the community will grow only by a large group of people working together and being positive.

“There’s people that believe in Albert Lea in our community,” she said.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rhonda Jordal said the ranking proves Albert Lea is “truly a place that people want to come to, to live, to work, to enjoy.”

“It is a wonderful place to be,” she said.

Jordal predicted the ranking could draw businesses and residents into the community. 

In March, Albert Lea ranked No. 5 nationwide in a recent ranking of small-town livability by



Top 50 list

50. Williston, North Dakota

49. Grove City, Pennsylvania

48. Snyder, Texas

47. Storm Lake, Texas

46. Bridgeport, West Virginia

45. Hays, Kansas

44. Albert Lea

43. Andover, Kansas

42. Hutchinson

41. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

40. Paradise Valley, Arizona

39. North Liberty, Iowa

38. Brandon, Iowa

37. Snoqualmie, Washington

36. Buda, Texas

35. Los Alamos, New Mexico

34. Highland Park, Texas

33. Wyoming, Ohio

32. East Grand Rapids, Michigan

31. Thief River Falls

30. Elk River

29. Spencer, Iowa

28. Falls Church, Virginia

27. Jamestown, North Dakota

26. Pierre, South Dakota

25. Batesville, Arkansas

24. McPherson, Kansas

23. Pella, Iowa

22. Johnston, Iowa

21. Franklin, Pennsylvania

20. Bath, Maine

19. Palos Verdes Estates, California

18. Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

17. Trophy Club, Texas

16. Dickinson, North Dakota

15. Powell, Ohio

14. Waynesboro, Virginia

13. Sartell

12. Tega Cay, South Carolina

11. Carroll, Iowa

10. New Ulm

9. Chatham, Illinois

8. New Albany, Ohio

7. Le Mars, Iowa

6. Ladue, Missouri

5. Winnetka, Illinois

4. Dumas, Texas

3. Perrytown, Texas

2. Mandan, Texas

1.West University Place, Texas

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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