Downtown Kendallville

Kendallville’s downtown corridor is pictured in this file photo from November. The city was ranked the 33rd best place to live in a recent online study.

Kendallville is ranked 33rd in an article headlined ”America’s 50 Best Cities to Live” published this month by financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall St.

To come up with the top 50 cities, researchers from 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 25 measures across four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life and community.

Kendallville’s low cost of living outweighed the fact that it has not seen population growth. In fact, Kendallville defied several of the characteristics of other cities and towns on the list.

Kendallville was the only Hoosier city to make the top 50 list.

According to the data pulled for the article, Kendallville had a five-year population change of -5%, a median income of $42,278 and a five-year average unemployment rate of 5.3%.

“Kendallville is a small city in northeastern Indiana. One reason Kendallville ranks among the best places to live is its affordability. Goods and services in the city are about 14.5% less expensive than they are nationwide on average. Housing is especially affordable. The typical home in Kendallville is worth 2.3 times as much as the city’s median household income. Meanwhile, the median home value across the country is 3.4 times higher than the median household income,” the ranking states.

“While Kendalville’s median household income of $42,278 is well below the national median of $60,293, area residents are less likely than most Americans to face serious financial hardship. Just 12.1% of Kendallville residents live below the poverty line compared to 14.1% of people nationwide,” it said.

The top three cities on the list were Manhattan Beach, California, No. 1; Winnetka, Illinois, No. 2, and Hanover New Hampshire, No. 3.

Ranking just above Kendallville is Beachwood, Ohio, at No. 32 and just behind Kendallville is Traverse City, Michigan, at No. 34.

To avoid clustering in a few areas, the study only took the top-ranking city in a given county and did not include places with less than 8,000 residents.

The 24/7 Wall St. research team used more than two dozen metrics related to affordability, economy, standard of living and community to identify the 50 best cities to live in in the U.S.

“This list favors areas with conditions that have almost universal appeal: short commute times, walkability, reliable public transit, affordability, job availability, entertainment options, cultural attractions, low crime, and access to places like grocery stores and hospitals,” the study stated.

Income itself was not a factor in the ranking, although it noted that many of the areas highlighted were affluent. That wasn’t the case for Kendallville, which not only has a lower median income than the county, but a lower median income than other nearby cities and towns.

Most of the cities on the list also had notable population growth. Again, not the case for Kendallville, which along with the rest of Noble County has seen stagnant population growth and a rapidly aging population.

Also, while the study noted the affordability of housing as one of Kendallville’s main draws, housing was the top issue of concern identified by Mayor Suzanne Handshoe and city council members Regan Ford and Amy Ballard, all three of whom were elected in fall 2018.

Residents can buy an existing home for relatively cheap, but new housing is basically a non-factor for the city.

Only 15 new homes were built within Kendallville’s zoning jurisdiction in 2019, with an average construction price of $235,252 — way outside the price range of anyone earning the city’s median income of $42,000.

News Sun Editor Steve Garbacz and Grace Housholder contributed to this report.

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