Webster Groves places in CNN Money Magazine’s “Best Places” to live list


Webster Groves is No. 61 on CNN’s Money Magazine’s list, “Top 100 Best Places to Live” for 2011. This is the first year Webster Groves made the list, though it was noted as a contender in Money Magazine’s 2009 list.

This year, small towns with a population of 8,500 to 50,000 were considered for the list. Money Magazine examined statistics regarding school test scores, housing prices, property taxes, job growth, family income, crime rates, leisure activities and residents’ age when ranking the cities.

According to Money Magazine’s website, since 2009, statistics from Onboard Informatics show a decrease in Webster Groves’ median family income, number of crimes and car insurance premiums. Statistics also show an increase in Webster Groves’ housing prices since 2009.

Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch said she believes an increase in housing prices and creating new community events over the past few years contributed to the city placing on the “Best Places to Live” list.

“In the midst of this recession, we have actually increased our reserve funds, so we’re even financially more healthy than we were,” Welch added.

According to Money Magazine’s website, economic data had a large impact on a city’s ability to make the top 100. Barb Ehnes, Director of Media and Community Relations at Webster University and a member of the Webster Groves Old Orchard taxing district commission, believes the construction in Webster Groves contributes to the city’s economic growth.

Webster Groves currently has several major construction projects underway, including Webster University’s new academic building, expansion of the Webster Groves Public Library and Provision Living’s senior housing addition.

Money Magazine also rated cities based on leisure activities and community spirit. Darrell Hughes, former president of the Northwest Webster Groves Improvement Association, described Webster Groves’ 17 parks as “community buildings”. The Improvement Association often uses the parks for events.

“I think in Webster, everything green is a very precious thing to us as a community, and we like to preserve that green nature that’s always been part of the heritage here,” Hughes said.

Webster Groves also has three business districts, which include 2,984 restaurants and 34 movie theaters within 15 miles.

“The small town feel with the downtown areas…I think that’s very appealing,” Ehnes said.

The city also hosts community events such as 63119 Art, the Webster Groves Farmers Market and Make a Difference Day. Roger Grow, Webster Groves director of planning and development, hopes placement on Money Magazine’s  “Best Places to Live” list will be a selling point to families who are considering moving to the area.

Since 2005, Money Magazine has published an annual list of the best small towns in America. In 2010, only cities with a minimum population of 50,000 were considered; Webster Groves does not fit that qualification. This year, the population requirement returned to what it was in 2009 – a minimum population of 8,500.

Three other Missouri towns also made the top 100 “Best Places to Live” list this year: Ballwin came in at No. 80, Lake St. Louis at No. 41 and Liberty at No. 7.

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