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Chanhassen Is Not ‘The Best Place to Live’

On Wednesday, the Twin Cities suburb won Money magazine's 'Best Place to Live in the U.S. Right Now' crown. Huh...

Chanhassen is fine.

It has Paisley Park, a dinner theater, and a landscape arboretum to keep you entertained. Its schools rate highly, though its bland suburban houses sell for $50,000-plus over the metro median price of $350,000. If you wanna work at places like General Mills and Life Time, those options exist. There are two nice grocery stores and a handful of non-chain restaurants.

But to hear Money magazine tell it, Chanhassen is the Best Places to Live in the U.S. Right Now. Predictably, its 35th annual installment of this series leans heavy into Prince, the late entertainer who is famously from here. The winner profile extols Chan’s virtues, which we summarized above in less flowery prose. Two other Minnesota cities—Woodbury (No. 29) and Rosemount (No. 32)—appear on the Best Places list, Money’s annual flagship feature that’s compiled using “lots of data with old fashioned reporting” to highlight “standout spots that fit the times.” This year, lip service is paid to the “ongoing national discourse around race and equality.”

Considering the methodology used to determine the 50 winners, that last bit is especially interesting. In combing the data, Money eliminated places from contention if crime was slightly higher, income was below the state median, populations were in decline, and if “there is effectively no ethnic diversity.”

Here are the white population percentages for the top 10 winners, per the U.S. Census: Chanhassen, Minnesota (89.2%); Carmel, Indiana (83.4%); Franklin, Tennessee (83.5%); Flower Mound, Texas (78.9%); Ashburn, Virginia (67.1%); Syracuse, Utah (90.3%), Overland Park, Kansas (82.4%); Centennial, Colorado (86.2%); Scottsdale, Arizona (88.1%); Ellicott City, Maryland (56.8%).

Not exactly melting pots… effectively speaking. For a little context, the cities you most likely live in, Minneapolis or St. Paul, are 63.6% and 57% white, respectively. (FTR, Minneapolis in the greatest city in the world, baybeee; subscribe to Racket if you like that sort of brainless boosterism.)

Money notes that Chanhassen “has been grappling with issues of race and inclusion” after George Floyd’s murder. So far, direct changes include: making government forms available in Spanish.

“We all recognize that this area is predominantly white,” mayor Elise Ryan tells Money. “So you have to make that extra effort to make sure everybody feels safe and welcome in the community where they live.”

I DM’d the author of the Chanhassen blurb, asking how a city that I’ve never heard anyone muster more than faint praise for snatched the Best Places throne. Additionally, I inquired about the exclusionary methodology. She deferred me to real estate editor Sam Sharf, who’s currently out of the office.

Why beat up on Money magazine and, by extension, the entirely passable suburb of Chanhassen? Because this type of journalism is intended to spread a click-net across the country, causing cash-strapped local outlets to regurgitate the findings with pennant-waving passivity. It works. That’s good for Money, and it’s certainly good for mortgage company Better, whose Best Places sponsorship screams from all over the page. It’s probably good for newish Money parent company Ad Practitioners LLC, a Puerto Rico-based firm that “matches world-class brands with engaged audiences across over 150 categories.”

And maybe it’s good for Chanhassen, but that perfectly fine place is doing just fine.