Geography II

Let’s see if I can’t generalize my rubric, so that any city or location (hereafter “loc”) can be assessed of its relative quality.



(This will be based upon the “global cities” list compiled by the GaWC)

+4 to Alpha++ and Alpha+ cities

+3 to Alpha and Alpha- cities

+2 to Beta cities

+1 to Gamma and Sufficiency cities (or those which ought to so qualify)

+0.5 those cities which are capitals or otherwise contain a major organ of government

+0.5 to those cities which are the central cities of their region

+0.5 to those cities which are linked by easy public transportation (high-speed rail) to other cities


+90% of the equivalent Urbania rating of the nearest city, if that city is easily accessible (30m or less by public transportation or bicycle; 15m or less by car)

For every 10 minutes added to the commute, subtract 10% of city value

For every other city which is within commute distance, add 1/2 that city’s score by above rubric


+50% of the equivalent Urbania rating of the nearest city, if that city is easy accessible (1h by public transportation and/or car).

For every half-hour added, subtract 10%


+3 to those locs in the continental US (it’s my passport-issuer)

+2 to those locs with HDI ratings of “Very high”

+1.5 for those locs with HDI ratings of “High” where English is, to any extent, a spoken language within the location in question or its nearest major city

+1 for all other locs with HDI ratings of “High”

+.5 for locs with HDI ratings of “Medium” + English


+2 for swimmable, accessible oceans

-0.5 if ocean is always or commonly: too hot, too cold, too polluted

-0.5 if beaches tend to be too busy to enjoy

-0.5 for every half-hour (beyond the first) of driving or public transportation required to reach the beach

+2 for swimmable, accessible lakes

same potential negatives as above

…can be up to 4 points from both fresh- and salt-water access


+3 for access to a major wilderness preserve (Yosemite, Baxter)

+2 for access to a minor wilderness preserve with hiking (Blue Hills, Acadia)

-0.5 for every hour (beyond the first) of car or public-transport travel time to a trailhead for either

-1 if parks are extremely crowded during peak season(s)

…though I cannot think offhand of a city with access to two disparate wild-parks, if such was to be presented I would say that their scores stacked


+2 for access to a major safe-by-day urban park (Central Park, Hyde Park, the Presidio)

-0.5 for every 15 minutes travel-time, by pubtrans or bike (beyond the first)

+1 for access to a minor site suitable for strolls and picnics (Fort Bourtange, Fort Preble, Mount Auburn)

-0.5 for every 15 minutes travel-time, by pubtrans or bike (beyond the first)

+.5 for access to pleasant little urban parks (The Eastern and Western Prom of Portland, ME)

…these stack


+3 for being near a world-class hospital (I can’t find a good general ranking, but we’re talking MGH-quality here; no matter what happens, I could be treated locally

+2 for being near a very good hospital (I could be assured very good treatment for all common ailments, including heart attack, stroke, and common cancers)

+1 for being near a good hospital (if I get in a car crash, they’ll put me back together; will need to go elsewhere for specialist treatment)


+2 for national and international high-speed rail (Europe!)

+1 for reliable mid-speed rail (Amtrak)

+2 if the city has a great metro (Stockholm)

+1 if the city has an acceptable metro (Boston) (grudgingly)

+1 if the city has good cabs


+3 if loc is within a half hour’s drive of a good-sized airport

-.5 for every half hour’s drive beyond the first

+1 if there’s a high-speed rail going right to the airport


-1 if you’d be careful taking a stroll at night (Vinegar Hill)

-2 if you wouldn’t take a stroll late at night, but you’re fine walking from the station to your house (Williamsburg)

-3 if you make sure you’re home by dark (East Williamsburg)

-8 if you just straight up wouldn’t walk around at all (Brownsville)


+3 if there’s a local world-class university (UToronto, Bologna) or concatenation of good schools (The Five Colleges)

+2 if there’s a local world-class small liberal arts college (Williams, Bowdoin) or major research university

+1 if there’s a college near enough & it has a good library

…does not stack


+3 if it has a wide variety of ethnic restaurants

+2 if it has a smattering of ethnic restaurants

+1 to +3 for restaurants in general

+1 for good food trucks

+2 for The Night Owl Coefficient (ability to get food late at night)


+3 if there is a major farmer’s market (I’m talking a bazaar)

+2 if there is regular access to local produce (Brattleboro co-op)

+1 if there is a recurring farmer’s market

+2 if there is a major supermarket or the equivalent

+1 if there is a good basic market

+1 for a good bakery

+2 if there’s a good local coffee roastery (Tandem, Stumptown, Julius Meinl)

+2 if they grow tea locally

+1 if they make wine locally

+1 for a local herbalist (tisane forever!)

+0.5 for local beer

+0.5 for a local microdistillery


+5 if every road has cycle tracks, there are no grade crossings, in short: paradise

+3 if the city is generally bike-safe and bike-accessible (Portland. Cambridge, most small towns)

-1 if commuter biking requires large distances, riding on nasty shoulders, or moving in heavy traffic


+3 a long path with no stopping (the Tiber bike path in Rome looked excellent)

+2 shorter (the Portland, ME loop is 7 miles with no grade crossings), or more stopping (up one side of the Charles and then down the other could be as long as 27 miles, but plenty of stops)

+1 if there are no bike-only paths but there’s good long side-of-road riding to be had

-3 if there’s nowhere around where you can drop tire


up to -2 if the loc is not pedestrian friendly (sorry, LA)


This is difficult to explore with rigor. I would gladly take a Hawaii-like climate, but I should also not be sad to experience my autumn, even winter. Let me instead say:

-4 for hot all the time (Timbuktu) or cold all the time (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky)

-2 for very hot summers (Dallas,Miami)

-2 for very cold winters (Winnipeg, Petrograd)

up to -2 for extremes of precipitation (Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale)

up to -4 for tendency to get hurricane’d (Havana), tornadoed (Wichita), earthquaked (Oakland) forest fire’d (Cali), &c

-1 for no seasons (really just beating on LA, am’t I)


I am used to living in rather expensive places (Cambridge, MA). But I will adjust based upon the Big Mac Index, such that every point above the US causes the subtraction of a tenth of a point, and every point below causes its addition. As a result, Switzerland would get minus 6.3 points, whereas India would get +5.9.


~ by davekov on 14 August 2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: