Each year since 2005, CNNMoney has published a list of the best places to live. Usually, these are 100 small towns (population <300k), but not always. For consistency’s sake, I compiled a list of the top 50 small towns from each of the nine years (2005 to 2013); these data included the ranking of the cities and their populations at the time of the publication.
I’ve mapped these cities with two calculated values: the number of times they appeared in a top 50 list and the total ranking score. This score the sum of all of their rankings where a 1st place ranking is worth 50 points, 2nd place is worth 49 points, and so on. The map also includes a list of the 10 cities with the top overall ranking scores. The top overall spot goes to Louisville, CO, but three of the top ten are suburbs of Minneapolis, MN.
The graphs show population distributions by city rank and number of cities. These graphs include all data over the nine years, so cities appearing multiple times are graphed more than once with their rank and population for the given year. Though there is no correlation between population and rank, CNNMoney clearly prefers towns with fewer than 75k people – 76% of the towns are in this population range.