OMG, open mic!
Sorry to be a bummer, dude, but Amarillo doesn't look so great in Money magazines 2006 Best Places to Live survey.
Median family income here is a meager $45,896 per year, compared to an average of $62,555. Well, sure, but cost-of-living is lower, right? Apparently not: Our purchasing power, adjusted for cost-of-living is a mere $58,917, compared to $66,848. Our sales tax and auto insurance premiums are both higher than average. And don't bother looking for a better job so you can afford those expenses: our job growth rate is half the national average.1
Well, legal job growth, anyway. Happy days are here again for the crooks. Personal crime risk is 1282, considerably more than twice the national average. There were 785 personal crime incidents per 100,000 compared to 268 nationally. Property crime risk is 150; almost twice the national average. 6,377 property crime incidents per 100,000 compared to 3,302 nationally.
Those of us who have been saying for decades that there's nothing to do in Amarillo . . . well, sadly, we were right. Literally. No, literally. I know what it means; it's there in .25 dot pitch (black and white if you're reading Money magazine the old-fashioned way): There is nothing to do in Amarillo. The survey says: Zero sports, concert and family/arts events in Amarillo. Friggin' zero, compared to an average of three nationally.3 We have fewer movie theaters, fewer restaurants, fewer public golf courses, fewer libraries, and way, way, way fewer museums. Yeah, but we're close to the mountains? Depends on what you call close and depends on what you call mountains: the average city surveyed managed at least one ski resort within 100 miles; Amarillo has none. Well, geezus Billy Bob, they must be making an unfair comparison to much larger cities? Possibly, but keep in mind that we did manage to come in above average in one area of leisure and culture. Churches, gotta be churches? You may be right. The survey doesn't compare numbers of churches. But I wouldn't brag too much about Amarillo's piousness: the sole leisure and culture category in which we beat the average is . . .
. . . number of bars. Guess it really is like we said when we were sixteen; if there's nothing else to do . . .
About the same percentage of us are married, but we beat the national divorce average by almost three percent. Our hottest day is hotter and our coldest day is colder than average. It rains half as much as average.
Don't even get me started on education.
So what are the results of being poor, overcharged for insurance, uneducated, with no prospects and nothing to do, in a crime-ridden city, hot, cold, dry, drunk, and divorced? The obvious, apparently: we want to die early. Saddest of all, and notwithstanding the medical center in which we take such pride, our health stats look like crap. Only 74.7 of us have health insurance, a fact that was alluded to when Chris Bell visited. We're about as fat as most Americans, and we die of cancer at about the same rate, but despite that fancy new heart hospital our cardiac mortality rate is over 150-percent the national average. I'd blame the 72-ounce steak at the Big Texan, but only tourists try to eat that mofo.
So what's the good news? Precious little. The air quality is better here and there are more clear days. So, no clouds or smog to obscure a clear vision of how crappy your miserable life is.
At least housing is cheap. But of course it would be, in a place that sucks this much.
1 And despite popular local mythology, we only commute about six minutes less than the national average to the jobs we have. (My commute is almost an hour.)
2100 is the national average; lower is better.
3Obviously, both numbers are low. From the FAQ:
Number of arts and leisure activities (including museums, restaurants, hiking and camping spots, golf courses and professional sports teams) within proximity of each city is calculated by OnBoard. Data sources: InfoUSA, MRI and InSource marketing survey data, Trails.com, American Public Gardens Association, American Hiking Society, American Association of Museums, Symphony.org, Reserve America, Ticketmaster, American Zoo and Aquarium Assocation, GoSki.com.I attend some arts and leisure activities, so they do exist, and should perhaps do a better job of promotion. This cross-section of sources does show a significantly lower-than-average number, however.