A recent survey of Indiana communities puts Washington in the middle of the best places to live in the state. The findings by the personal-finance website WalletHub compared 21 key indicators of family-friendliness, ranging from median family income to school-system quality to housing affordability. Of the 78 communities assessed around the state, Washington, overall, fell in the middle at number 39.
Even though Daviess County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 2.1%, some of the rankings showed Washington financially still has a way to go. It ranked 54th in median family income. Other weak points included families with children aged 0 to 17 at number 50, quality of school system at 55 and 43 among the communities with families living in poverty.
On the plus side Washington is No. 37 in divorce rate, 33rd in violent crime rate, 12th in high school graduation rate and 10th in housing affordability.
Washington and Daviess County have recently put together a master plan to try and improve the quality of life and workforce development. Community leaders say that much of what the survey addresses is similar to what is currently being worked on.
“This poll highlights many of the positive trends taking place in the city of Washington as well as our competitive edge when showcased among other communities,” said Bryant Niehoff, executive director for the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation. “As we continue to invest in quality of life amenities, and workforce attraction efforts as highlighted in Daviess County’s recent Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plan, this ranking should only improve.”
As a state Indiana economically appears to have some things going for it. It has the 19th largest economy in the country, placing the economic output on par with the nation of Singapore, the unemployment rate has been at or below the national average for the last year and the cost of living is lower than 41 other states.
The top cities on the list are the ones you could almost predict. They are the suburban Indianapolis communities of Fishers, Zionsville, Carmel, Westfield and Noblesville.
At least one community member questions whether livability of a community can be captured in cold, hard numbers.
“The thing is this list uses metrics that are supposed to be analytical but where you live is a subjective thing,” said Daviess County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Samantha Bobbitt. “How you feel about how you live has a lot to say about who you are. The study’s four categories of main interest were Family Life and Fun, Education, Health and Safety, Affordability and Socioeconomics. Considering all the areas we are being compared to, places like Indianapolis and Gary, how is it possible to say these scores are demonstrative of what is to be living in our community?“
Bobbitt points out that she once moved away from Daviess County only to move back. She says the time living in the city led her to a greater appreciation of her home.
“I moved back to the area after living in a much larger city,” she said. “I have gotten involved with my community and am very proud of it. I am very proud of Daviess County because I am invested in making it a better place to live. So, when I see a report like this or a negative comment on social-media I look at it through a different lens than I might have when I was a brain drain.”
The WalletHub rankings included Jasper at seventh, Bedford 29th and Vincennes 41st.