Condé Nast Traveler and its readers weigh in on America’s friendliest and unfriendliest cities.

The usual suspects … and a few surprises as well?

cntPeople say there’s wisdom in crowds.

If that’s the case, then the ~128,000 people who participated in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards survey in 2015 must count for something when it comes to which cities are America’s friendliest.

… And the survey results show that if you want to find America’s friendliest folks, head south and west.

That is correct: Of the ten cities rated the most friendly, just one is located in the Northeast … and absolutely none are in the Midwest.

For the record, here are the ten friendliest American cities based on the Condé Nast survey:C

  • #1 Charleston, SC America’s friendliest city
  • #2 Park City, UT
  • #3 Savannah, GA
  • #4 Nashville, TN
  • #5 Austin, TX
  • #6 Santa Fe, NM
  • #7 Asheville, NC
  • #8 Jackson (Jackson Hole), WY
  • #9 New Orleans, LA
  • #10 Burlington, VT

Of course, there are also the ten unfriendliest cities as determined from the same survey — no doubt the subject of just as much curiosity.

Those seem to be just as clustered — but elsewhere — primarily in the Northeast, but also a few in California.  And Detroit, too:n

  • #1 Newark, NJ America’s unfriendliest city
  • #2 Oakland, CA
  • #3 Atlantic City, NJ
  • #4 Detroit, MI
  • #5 Hartford, CT
  • #6 New Haven, CT
  • #7 Dover, DE
  • #8 Wilmington, DE
  • #9 Los Angeles, CA
  • #10 Baltimore, MD

I have no earthly idea if these rankings are accurate or not; it’s actually well-nigh impossible to have a definitive listing based on a ranking criterion that’s so subjective.

But having lived in both Nashville and Baltimore — and having visited 13 of the other 18 cities — I do get a sense of where the Condé Nast survey respondents are coming from.

How about you? Do you think that any of these cities are unfairly ranked?  And what other cities do you think should have made it on either list?  Like New York City or Philadelphia, for instance?

Incidentally, the 2016 Readers’ Choice Survey results are currently being tabulated and are due to be published in October.  It will be interesting to see if there are any big changes in the listings …

Volunteerism: Is it a Mormon and Midwestern Thing?

Volunteerism in AmericaDuring my adult life I’ve lived in all four regions of the United States. Each of them has its distinct positive aspects (along with a few not-so-positive ones).

Of course, these differences are part of what makes living in America so interesting.

One regional difference I’ve noticed is a greater predilection for volunteerism among people who live in the Midwest and Western regions. 

That anecdotal observation on my part has now been confirmed by the results of a consumer survey conducted in late 2012 by New York-based Scarborough Research.

In broad terms, Scarborough found that approximately 27% of American adults reported having participated in some form of volunteer activities over the previous year.

That percentage breaks down further by demographic age clusters as follows:

  • All Adults: ~27% have volunteered during the past year
  • Baby Boomers (age 45-64): ~34%
  • Gen Xers (age 30-44): ~27%
  • Millennials (age 18-29): ~20%
  • Silent Generation (age 65+): ~18%

Looking more closely at the 27% of respondents who volunteers, the Scarborough research revealed that, while volunteerism is found throughout the United States, certain urban markets have a distinctly larger proportion of their population so involved.

And when you look at the list – and Scarborough studied more than 85 local markets – you’re hard-pressed to find any of them located east of the Mississippi River. Instead, the list is completely skewed towards the Midwest and West:

  • Salt Lake City, UT: ~42% of adults have volunteered during the past 12 months
  • Des Moines, IA: ~34%
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: ~34%
  • Portland, OR: ~34%
  • Grand Rapids, MI: ~33%
  • San Francisco, CA: ~33%
  • Seattle, WA: ~33%
  • Green Bay, WI: ~32%

Which urban markets are at the bottom of Scarborough’s list? All of them are located in coastal states:

  • Ft. Myers, FL: ~22% of adults have volunteered
  • Las Vegas, NV: ~22%
  • New Orleans, LA: ~22%
  • Bakersfield, CA: ~21%
  • El Paso, TX: ~21%
  • Harlington, TX: ~20%
  • Miami, FL: ~20%
  • Providence, RI: ~20%

Scarborough also found that those who volunteer their time tend to be more generous with their financial support:

  • They are ~84% more likely to have contributed to an arts or cultural organization within the past year
  • ~61% more likely to contribute to an environmental organization
  • ~60% more likely to financially support a social care, welfare or political organization
  • ~57% more likely to have contributed to a religious organization

More details on the Scarborough Research findings, including stats for more than 85 local markets, can be found here.