How do you measure excitement?
Whenever we put together one of these lists, we’re faced with a new challenge: How do we measure the thing on which we’re trying to rank cities? In this case, that thing is excitement, something people are used to feeling, not quantifying with numbers. Numbers are kind of what we do around here, though, so we had to figure out a way to do just that.
- What we came up with is a combination of six criteria designed to put excitement into a tangible form:
- Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
- Live music venues per capita
- Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
- Fast-food restaurants per capita (the fewer, the better)
- Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower, the better)
- Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher, the better)
With these picked out, we compiled a list of small cities across the country with populations between 50,000 and 60,000 residents, which came to a total of 140. We then researched our six criteria within each city and awarded a score from one to 140 in each criterion, with the best possible score being one.
After all of the criteria have been scored and ranked, we averaged all the individual rankings for each city to produce an overall Big Deal Score. As with the criteria rankings, the lower this number was, the better. The 10 cities with the lowest overall scores are our most exciting small cities.
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