A recent ranking of exciting places in Missouri by Movoto Real Estate's blog shows that a community doesn't have to be large to be exciting. Who knew Rolla was so exciting…apparently. According to Movoto, Rolla ranks as the second most exciting city (with a population over 10,000) in the Show-Me State, right between St. Louis at No. 1 and Columbia at No. 3.
Next month will mark my two-year anniversary of moving to Rolla and working for The Rolla Daily News.
I must admit, Rolla is not what I thought it would be. I was surprised…I thought Rolla would be bigger. It’s certainly bigger population-wise than Washington, Missouri, where I lived and worked before here, but Rolla still has that small town feel.
However, a recent ranking of exciting places in Missouri by Movoto Real Estate’s blog shows that a community doesn’t have to be large to be exciting.
Who knew Rolla was so exciting…apparently. According to Movoto, Rolla ranks as the second most exciting city (with a population over 10,000) in the Show-Me State, right between St. Louis at No. 1 and Columbia at No. 3.
The Movoto blog also rates the smartest, safest and yes, even nerdiest cities. (No wonder I feel Atlanta deserves a wedgie).
According to the blog post, Movoto used “U.S. Census and business listings to get the relevant data for seven different criteria” which the rankings are based on.
The criteria and how Rolla ranked in each category is below (and remember, the lower the score, the better):
• Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.) - 25
• Live music venues per capita – 4
• Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.) - 37
• Arts and Entertainment per capita (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.) - 17
• Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better) – 22
• Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the percentage, the better) - 11
• Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the percentage, the better) - 5
The blog credits Missouri S&T’s young student population as helping Rolla get its high ranking, as does Rolla’s vineyards and its lack of fast food eateries.
“Rolla residents know that the only thing better than local wine is local wine with some homemade pizza from Alex Pizza Palace,” the blog states.
My first inclination after hearing about this ranking was to ridicule it. A real estate company put this out, so there’s obviously some bias to it.
Really? Rolla is No. 2 and Branson is No. 5? Springfield is No. 10? If Rolla is so exciting, why do so many people leave here on the weekend for these destinations?
And it seems to me, the research is not all that accurate. Technically, vineyards are in St. James — albeit, nearby. And not a lot of fast food places? Have they seen Burger Row?
And I wasn’t alone. Just look at the firestorm set off in the blog’s comments section.
Here are just a few of the comments:
“You seriously need to learn how to compile and interpret data. There aren't any vineyards in Rolla. St. James, a town in and of of [sic] its own and roughly eight miles from Rolla, is where the Italian immigrants settled and is where the nationally known vineyards and wine are located. Get your facts straight.”
“Rolla is number 2? I graduated from Mo S&T, and love the university and town. But to say it is #2 is proof positive your analysis is fatally flawed and should be rejected.”
“Hello, I’m from Rolla and if Rolla is #2 I’m glad I left Missouri.”
But then there was this positive comment about the ranking:
“I think a regional viewpoint of these cities is smart – especially for realtors. When people move into a new area, they don’t hit a wall at the city limits. They explore the communities around them. Does Rolla have vineyards? No. Are there vineyards just 15 minutes away? Yes. I live in Rolla and can drive to fantastic wineries in St. James faster than I can reach the southern city limits of Rolla. We have lots of good stuff close by!”
So maybe exciting is in the eye of the beholder. Rolla has a mini-replica of Stonehenge and some Route 66 attractions. Maybe those aren’t exciting to some, but last weekend, I went to a demolition derby and that was exciting.
Rolla has a business owner who is trying to create a family-friendly entertainment and recreational complex. (But we’ll save that for another column).
Richie Myers once told me he hears people say there’s nothing to do here, but he doesn’t understand how they can say that. He may be right. Just flip over to our community calendar page. You’ll see how much is going on here.
As managing editor, I get asked to cover all sorts of exciting events, but I don’t have time to go to everything. I’d like to cover all your events, but my schedule doesn’t always allow it.
So maybe Rolla is exciting, just not based on the criteria of this real estate blog. But hey, look at the bright side. Maybe this blog post will sell some houses here.