I chuckled when I read an article about Alexandria ranking as one of the “Top Ten Snobbiest Midsize Cities in America” in 2015. I know that we Alexandrians have great pride in our history – after all, how many cities can claim George Washington slept, ate, and drank in their town?
Movoto, a real estate blog that came up with the list, measured a number of factors and then averaged them to come up with their rankings. They took information from the the 2010 census and included the following categories:
- Median home price (the higher the better)
- Median household income (the higher the better)
- Percent of population with a college degree (the higher the better)
- Private schools per capita (the more the better)
- Performing arts per capita (the more the better)
- Art galleries per capita (the more the better)
- Fast food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
- Country clubs per capita (the more the better)
So let’s take the first category-high median home price. I can certainly testify to high prices in our area…and they keep moving higher. However, I don’t think that makes us snobby. We just have a better understanding of location, location, location than people who live in many other towns. Who else can claim parks along the river, an historic business district, locations off of two interstates, four metro stops, and be just minutes from an airport?
Next let’s talk about income and education. It seems Alexandria ranks third in the highest number of college graduates (60%), so that makes us pretty smart. In fact, Amazon announced that Alexandria ranks first for sales of books, newspapers, and magazines in cities of 100,000 people or more. OK, that says Alexandrians are really smart! But snobby? Still waiting to be sold on that idea.
A high medium income also brought us to the top ranks. Well, more educated people do tend to earn more income. Right? We are a population that is obviously using their education to best advantage. Again, that makes us smart, not snobby.
It seems we also have a high number of private schools per capita. We do have three private high schools located in Alexandria; perhaps that is because with only one public high school, and people who are educated like choices. It’s hard to know on that one.
The next category that throws us into the hoity-toity is art. Alexandria is second in art galleries per capita in the country. Who knew? Of course, there are many in the Torpedo Factory, but there is also the Art League and the Del Ray Artisans. About 22 are listed on the internet. Now I understand why so many homes in our town have artists’ studios tucked into garages, attics, and side porches! I never appreciated how many artists we have in this town. I would say that makes us cultured, wouldn’t you? That is not necessarily snobby. And really, how many towns have their own symphony? It is a pretty incredible thing for a town the size of ours to have a first class symphony to call its own-the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. Are we snobby about it?
The next criteria, having a low number of fast food restaurants, is not something I really have thought about. When you look at our main thoroughfares, I would agree that the main roads in the city have very few. Washington Street, which is part of the GW Parkway, has no fast food franchises (though we still sometimes mourn the loss of Wendy’s on the north end of town). Route 1 through the City has only McDonald’s on the north end, there is also a McDonalds on King Street at Bradlee Shopping Center, and Duke Street has two Mickey D’s and a Popeye’s. There are a few others scattered about, but our main streets are junk food free. Now if you want to count up Starbucks and coffeehouses, we have plenty of those!
Stepping back, we would vote Alexandria not a snobby city, but an amazing city to live in.
However, if snobby means well-educated, cultured, and historic, then I guess Alexandria qualifies. We are also a friendly, beautiful city, with an unbeatable location. If you want to learn more about our fair city and what it is like to live here, just give us a buzz. We’d be happy to meet for coffee or tea (our treat!) and tell you more about life in Alexandria, our real estate, and our very un-snobby neighborhoods!
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