SPRINGFIELD -- A national publication has ranked the Springfield area as among the top 20 most favorable areas in the county in terms of quality of life, making it the first time the region has made the list.
Springfield rates 13th overall in U.S. News and World Report's recent rankings of the Best Places to Live in the United States for Quality of Life, 2017.
Springfield did not rank in the top 20 in the publication's similar ranking in 2016.
Springfield ranks just below Hartford, which came in 12th, and Portland, Maine, which was ranked fourth.
Nowhere else in Massachusetts ranked in the top 20.
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Massachusetts came in first in education and second in health care in the new rankings.
First, a word of caution: The ranking is for the Springfield metropolitan area, not just the city of Springfield. The Springfield metropolitan area is basically all of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties, or what locals call the Pioneer Valley or Western Mass.
That technicality did not stop Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno from lauding the ranking as proof that Springfield the city, if not Springfield the metropolitan area, is on the move in the right direction.
"I think this is a testament to my team, my administration here that we're moving forward on all fronts, whether it has to do with economic development, our schools, public safety, quality of life issues, strong financial status that my administration has created," he said.
"This all falls into place as good news. But we can't rest on our laurels. We're going to stay ever vigilant and continue to move up the ranks here. But it's a combination of moving forward on all those areas. And it's getting noticed now and I appreciate it," he said.
A second word of caution: The Quality of Life ranking is a subset of U.S. News and World Report's annual Best Places to Live in the United States ranking. In the 2017 ranking, the Springfield area was rated 67th, behind Worcester (54), Hartford (31), Portland (26) and Boston (8).
The Best Places to Live ranking takes a more comprehensive look at places in terms of the job market, cost of living, desirability, whether people are moving out or moving in, and quality of life, according to the publication's methodology.
The Quality of Life ranking, on the other hand, attempts to measure how satisfied people are in their daily lives. To do this it looks at crime rates, specifically the number of homicides and property crimes, availability and quality of health care within a 25 and 50 mile radius, education and how prepared high school graduates are to enter college, average commuting times, and an overall well-being index, which measures if residents are on the whole happy with their daily lives.
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In the quality of life ranking, it notes the Springfield region has relatively low housing prices, with a median price of $196,900, compared with $211,000 nationally, and the average median salary is around $50,000, which is higher than the national average of $48,320.
The daily commute was just under 23 minutes, roughly three minutes less than the national average.
For college readiness, Springfield ranked 37th. It was sixth in the overall health ranking, 47th in crime and 36th in well-being.
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Springfield's quality of life score was 7.4, nearly a full point above its overall score of 6.4 in the larger Best Places tally. Boston was practically the reverse, with an overall score of 7.1 but a quality of life score of 6.7.
Sarno said critics are always quick to criticize, but any survey that shows people are generally pleased to be living in the area is good news.
"The proof is in the pudding," he said.
"These are factual statistics here and we're going to continue to strive to do more and get higher up on that good list," he said. "Springfield is making a number of good lists now."