OC: We're Number ... nevermind

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According to Money Magazine, Orange County is one of the best places in the country to live, if you happen to be, say, sheetrock or a nice kitchen countertop. Because if you are, then you could be part of some of the most expensive homes in the country. But if you're not building material, then Money can't really recommend that you settle down in OC.

Money's just published its annual list of the Best Places to Live, and no corner of OC made the top 25. Or the top 50. Or, well... anywhere on the list. Fort Collins, Colorado, is ranked as the Best Place to Live, and while FC may be a wonderful place (never been there myself), how seriously can you take a list that ranks Sugar Land, Texas– a sweaty patch of the greater Houston area filled with the sort of people who selected pre-indictment Tom Delay as their representative to the wider world over and over again– as the third Best Place to Live?

On the other hand, it's probably safe to trust Money when it comes to lists that are just about money– like the list of Pricy Homes ranking cities according to median home price, which accompanies the Best list. OC dominates that list. Newport Beach comes in at No. 1, with a median home price of $1,362,500. Better luck next year, Greenwich, Connecticut, with your little $1,129,000 shacks.

San Clemente is ranked number 7 on the Pricey list (median price: $848,500), and Yorba Linda check in at 14 ($750,000). (It's a shame, but it looks like the Land of Gracious Living, Yorba Linda's self-proclaimed nickname, didn't get any extra ambience points for having Nixon's corpse as a roadside attraction.) And rounding off the list at number 25 is Huntington Beach with a median price of $678,500, which is almost enough to buy you two houses in New York City, where, according to another Money list, the median home goes for $375,000.

Unfortunately, while a house in these OC destination spots will take a lot of your money, it won't increase your investment enough to make Money's list of top cities for Home Appreciation. 10 of the 25 cities are in California, but none are in OC. The closest city to OC on the list is Compton, where homes are appreciating at a rate of 36%.

I suppose we'll be able to rank the influence of Money's lists be watching to see how many people sell off their Newport Beach castles and head for Compton, where they'll get a better return on their real estate dollar. It could happen. Sure it's unlikely, but it's a lot more likely than Sugar Land, Texas, actually being the third Best Place to Live in the United States.

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