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A Niche market: Lafayette garners yet another ‘best of’ accolade

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Lafayette’s the best city in Louisiana in which to live.

That’s according to Niche, a website that grades schools and neighborhoods. It’s designed for families who are planning a move across the country or who want a new neighborhood to call home within their current cities.

The site’s 2018 ratings also rank Lafayette 63rd out of 228 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The Hub City is nestled between Tallahassee, Florida, and Roseville, California. 

The next Louisiana city worthy of a “best” designation is New Orleans, at No. 166. Baton Rouge came in at No. 183.

Shreveport’s also on the list, but the site stopped its numerical rankings at No. 190, New Haven, Connecticut.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is No. 1. 

The designations are based on reviews and grades posted by residents and visitors, but there’s also some high-level numbers crunching involved.

Niche bases its rankings on data from the U.S. Census, such as home values and income levels; graduation rates and state test scores from U.S. Department of Education; crime statistics from the FBI; and climate information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

All together, the site combines information culled from 25 federal, state and nonprofit agencies with its own surveys to reach its conclusions.

Lafayette received an A average. Its report card included As for diversity; A-minuses in the “good for families” and nightlife categories; and Bs for its public schools and housing.

The Niche roster received notice this week from news website MSN, which compiled the best cities into an alphabetic list. MSN noted Lafayette’s “rich history, delicious cuisine, lively music and frequent festivals.”

MSN considered comments left on the Niche website and concluded that visitors and residents “particularly love the city's fun atmosphere, diverse culture, and friendly people.”

Among respondents’ appraisals:

  • “This is a great community with a real focus on family and work-life balance. There are always festivals and other events going on. The annual international music festival (Festival International de Louisiane) is wonderful. Most of all, the people here are the friendliest I have ever come across.”
  • “The culture here is so diverse and creative that voices and personalities are expressed through food. You can eat at a new restaurant every day and never taste the same thing twice.”
  • “The University (of Louisiana at Lafayette) is one of the best in the country, with fields such as engineering, biology and nursing leading at an international level.”
  • “The Southern hospitality is refreshing as most people will greet you like they have known you forever. Complete strangers will open the door for you and will smile as they pass you. This town is a tight-knit community and strives to help those in need.”

See the entire list and read more comments here.

The Niche ranking is not the first time Lafayette has made a national “best of” list.

Last month, travel website Expedia specifically cited UL Lafayette and its School of Music and Performing Arts when it placed the city among “America’s Most Artistic Towns.”

In 2014, Market Watch, which is run by “The Wall Street Journal,” ranked Lafayette among the five happiest cities in the U.S.

That same year, “USA Today” ranked the city as the No. 1 college town in the country to get away for a weekend. A designation in 2013 by “Travel + Leisure” magazine named Lafayette as one of America’s 20 Best College Towns.

Photo caption: The Zydeco Ragin’ Steppers, a band affiliated with UL Lafayette’s Traditional Music program, perform during last year’s Festival International de Louisiane. Users of the website Niche cited the University and the annual music festival as two reasons why Lafayette is among “the best cities to live in America.” (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)