What a difference the popping of a bubble makes. Two years ago, Bend made the Top 10 on Money magazine's list of the 100 Best Places to Live in America. This year we didn't make the Top 10.
Hell, we didn't even make the Top 100.
The Money list, appearing in the magazine's August issue, ranks small cities on the basis of a variety of factors including availability of jobs, affordable housing, recreation and quality of schools. This year, not only Bend but pretty much the whole Pacific Northwest got snubbed - the only place in Oregon or Washington to make the Top 100 is Bellevue, WA, which came in at Number 42.
Looking at the map posted on the CNN-Money website, it appears that this year's list is heavily skewed toward the Northeast and Midwest - largely, we suspect, on the basis of those regions' more affordable housing. Only one city on the West Coast - Irvine, CA - cracked the Top 10.
And the big winnah proudly holding the Number One spot? It's Plymouth, MN. (No, we never heard of it either.)
"Topnotch schools, good jobs, affordable housing, low crime, an active outdoor culture - yep, they're pretty much all here," reads Money's description of this city of 70,000. (And where have we heard all that before?)
"Plymouth could have become just another Twin Cities suburb, but more than 50,000 jobs keep residents working there.
"Home prices are within reason: The typical three-bedroom, two-bath house goes for $350,000. The city's main school district is ranked among the top three in the state, and for culture, Plymouth's open-air amphitheater, the Hilde Performance Center, hosts numerous summer concerts. Residents are a quick drive from the Mall of America, the nation's biggest mall.
"And did we mention the outdoors? Plymouth boasts more than half a dozen sizable bodies of water. Of course, this being Minnesota, winter can be brutal: January's average low temperature is about 13°F. But when the mercury plummets, the locals get busy. In February the city hosts a Fire & Ice Festival that includes mini-golf, bowling and basketball - all right on the ice."
Gosh, right on the ice. Isn't that special.
Will all the "lifestyle" seekers who flocked to Bend a couple years ago when it was THE Hot Place to Be now pack their mountain bikes, kayaks, climbing gear, Lycra shorts (and long johns) into a U-Haul and head out for Plymouth, MN? Well, we can hope ...