Wake County

Food, dating, cockroaches: where Raleigh was at its best – and worst – in 2017 rankings

The Warehouse District in downtown Raleigh made Thrillist’s ranking of “12 neighborhoods across America that are about to become crazy popular.”
The Warehouse District in downtown Raleigh made Thrillist’s ranking of “12 neighborhoods across America that are about to become crazy popular.” jleonard@newsobserver.com

There are plenty of lists that measure everything from a city’s quality of life to the taste of drinking water, and Raleigh frequently makes the cut.

Methods used to compile such rankings can seem questionable at times, but that doesn’t stop people from celebrating “best of” lists and cringing at those that put Raleigh in a bad light.

Here are some of the distinctions – good and bad – to grace Raleigh in 2017.

The good

Dating: Raleighites are more satisfied with their city’s dating opportunities than residents of any other U.S. city, according to ApartmentSurvey.com. The study comes just three years after Raleigh was named among the worst cities for romance by online dating service Zoosk.

Amazon readiness: Raleigh is ranked high in many predictions on where Amazon will build its second headquarters. Many rankings point to the city’s educated workforce, quality of life and job growth. The Upshot, part of The New York Times, ranked Raleigh in the top nine cities likely to land Amazon (Denver came in first place). CNBC predicts that Amazon’s HQ2 will end up in North Carolina, but not necessarily in Raleigh. Charlotte, Greensboro and High Point are also trying to lure the company.

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership, which is an association of economic developers, hopes this video they produced promoting life in the Triangle will help woo Amazon to the area.

Drinking water: Raleigh ranked first in North Carolina this year for the taste of its drinking water. The city’s water won a taste test at the 97th conference of the North Carolina American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Association. Cary and Asheboro placed second and third, respectively.

Food: Raleigh is the 12th most exciting food city in the United States, according to Zagat, which publishes one of the country’s premier dining guides. The publication noted James Beard Award winner Ashley Christensen and restaurants such as Brewery Bhavana and Poole’s Diner. Asheville came in 30th on the list.

Over the past decade, Ashley Christensen has made her mark on Raleigh through fine dining experiences that evoke a sense of comfort and community. She continues to use her platform as a local restaurateur to foster a food community.

Homebuying: Vogue Magazine and real estate website Trulia named Raleigh one of the three best places to buy a home in 2018. Metrics used for the rating included job growth, vacancy rates, affordability, percentage of population under 35 and more. Just to the west, WalletHub ranked Cary No. 4 in the country for best real estate market.

Happy renters: Raleigh is home to the nation’s happiest renters, according to rental housing firm Adobo. The company used American Housing Survey measurements of affordability, neighborhood quality, cleanliness and state of repair. Raleigh earned 274 points on Adobo’s 300-point scale; second-place Kansas City was the only other city to crack 200.

Warehouse District: This downtown Raleigh neighborhood made Thrillist’s ranking of “12 neighborhoods across America that are about to become crazy popular.” The Warehouse District is home to the new Union Station transit hub, tech company Citrix and the Dillon, a mixed-use tower that’s still under construction.

The bad

Sexual health: Raleigh is No. 10 among 25 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of three common STDs – gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, according to finance blog Insider Monkey. The blog used data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Charlotte fared even more poorly: It’s second-worst in the country.

Pests: The American Housing Survey asks respondents if they have seen cockroaches in their living space in the last 12 months. Raleigh ranked sixth-highest among U.S. cities, with 19 percent of residents reporting that they’d encountered a roach. A separate ranking by pest control service Orkin ranked Raleigh 33rd this year on a list of the country’s 50 most rat-infested cities. (Last year, Orkin ranked Raleigh No. 22 on the list.)

The News & Observer honors chefs Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard as the 2017 Tar Heels of the Year for making their marks in Raleigh, Kinston and North Carolina.

Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan