Imagine my shock and dismay. While on my first cup of coffee, I received a text message from my sister. Naperville, the town we grew up in, had been decreed the fourth-snobbiest midsize town in America.
The headline from the Movoto Real Estate Blog pulled no punches:
"Do you turn your nose up at anything unrefined? Then you might feel right at home in these supremely snooty cities."
The blog then makes a rather uncompelling case for why Naperville belongs on the top 10 list, which includes five California communities (more shock). The bloggers devised a system giving towns credit for having the highest/most median home prices, household income, college degrees, private schools, art galleries and country clubs. Credit was given for having fewer fast-food joints. (That probably cost Naperville a No. 1 ranking, IMHO.)
Upon learning of the city's dubious distinction, Naperville reporter Marie Wilson called its most prominent, and likely most ardent, booster, Mayor George Pradel. Loved his response.
"I'm taking a positive attitude toward that," he said. "Actually, it puts Naperville on the map again."
Actually, Pradel made an excellent point: Naperville may have all the stuff -- expensive houses, high incomes, advanced degrees, a few country clubs -- to make it snooty, but the affluence is "just kind of looking at it on the surface. You find that this is a very, very friendly city and people care about each other."
The same bloggers recently compiled another list, of the most boring towns in Illinois. The suburbs fared well, of course, with New Lenox topping the list, followed by Rolling Meadows, Calumet City, Lake in the Hills,
Huntley, Bolingbrook, Hanover Park, Oswego, Vernon Hills and Streamwood. Here's what the bloggers had to say about Rolling Meadows: "No real night life, no real active life options, and few interesting restaurants to eat at. We guess you could go out and relax in a rolling meadow somewhere, but the most exciting thing that would probably happen to you is a sunburn."
Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney took the snark in stride. "We take them at face value that it was meant in good fun and there's no point in getting our noses out of joint," he told staff writer Melissa Silverberg. "The national sense of humor these days seems to be snarkiness."
Now, lest you think Movoto, providing "the lighter side of real estate," does nothing more than make up snarky lists, they've had nice things to say about Naperville in the past, such as ranking the city ninth last year in its Best Mid-Sized Cities To Move To list. I was reminded of this when doing some research for this column. Naperville, you may have heard, was deemed kid-friendliest town in the nation by Zero Population Growth. The city also has appeared frequently on the Money magazine best-places-to-live lists. "I wonder if the city keeps a list of its awards," I wondered out loud.
The city website didn't disappoint. It listed 113 awards, from the AAA Pedestrian Protection Award to the Well Workplace Award, from Well City USA.
Could one view compiling such a list as a snobby thing to do?
I'd never say that.