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Top Ten Things Residents Want in Their Communities

August 25, 2016

- Webinar Show Notes -

National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) Vice President Michelle Kobayashi reveals what community characteristics matter most to residents across the United States.


1. Safety

Nearly all residents list safety as the most essential feature of a good community. Perceptions of safety do not always correlate with true crime statistics. We often encourage our clients who are challenged with lower ratings of safety to investigate further. The solution to low safety ratings may not be to simply add new police officers.  You may need to consider tending to other aspects of safety, such as adding new lighting, removing graffiti or launching a public education or social media campaign.

2. Economic Health

Availability of jobs, businesses, shops and restaurants are all important to residents.  Residents also care about the cost of living. However, many top rated communities struggle with issues of affordable housing.

3. Education/Enrichment

In an era where we are moving from an industrial age to an information age, education is becoming increasingly important. In our research, the importance of education and opportunities for growth is demonstrated for all age groups, including older adults.

4. Natural Environment

Analysis of community ratings shows a strong relationship to the quality of the natural environment. Municipalities with clean water, air and more open space are desirable. Research indicates that many Baby Boomers and Millennials have become “amenity migrants,” seeking out cities and towns where they can be closer to the amenities of nature.

5. Image/Reputation

People judge the quality of a community, in part, by how others see it. For this reason, many communities are spending resources on branding and social media advocacy.

6. Overall Appearance

Appearance is key to residents' willingness to recommend a community. Similar to reputation or image, appearance is important.  Attractive communities attract residents.

7. Sense of Community

Survey data suggest Millennials value communities that allow them to make connections.  Older Adults also give higher ratings to communities with public places where people can spend time together.

8. Health and Wellness Opportunities

Residents want to live in places where they can live healthy lives. They want to stay fit and have access to healthy food and adequate medical services.

9. Mobility

Communities with vibrant economies and high growth patterns often suffer in resident ratings of mobility. Congestion plagues these communities and mobility becomes one of the common issues of dialogue.

10. Built Environment

Housing, land use, planning, etc.  The built environment helps define the quality of the community. Although residents may not be experts on land use and zoning, they can judge a community by its feel and design.

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