Reading The New York Times Magazine's study rating of Columbiana County as one of the hardest places to live is enough to make any resident depressed.
We don't make much money, we're poorly educated, we have a high jobless rate, a low life expectancy and we're fat.
But many Columbiana countians would argue that we have a lot going for us. NYT Magazine, as we in the media are often accused of doing, chose to focus on the negatives.
It's true, we have a low median income of $41,870 while the national rate is more than $51,000. But, we don't need as much to live here. We have a low cost of living, 13 percent lower than the rest of the country. Average apartment rent rates in our county range from $429 to $641 per month, while the average apartment rent in NYC has climbed to $3,017 per month, according to REIS, a real estate research company. And, unlike New York City where nearly everyone rents, a large percentage of our residents live in homes they own, because they're affordable here.
It's a fact we don't have many residents with college degrees, only 13 percent, but it's not as if none of us go to college. Many attend, they just don't finish. And many of our children go to college. They just move elsewhere after graduating because employment opportunities are limited, but that is improving. Our jobless rate is now 5.9 percent, not the 8 percent NYT Magazine cited.
We also have a crime rate that's lower than most other places in the country. Although we often complain about the number of unsolved homicides in our county, we actually have a very low murder rate here. According to the FBI crime statistics, our murder rate in 2011 was 2.08 per 100,000, while nationally the rate was 4.99 and in NYC it was 5.05.
Perhaps to someone just looking at the numbers from an expensive New York City apartment things do look pretty bleak here. But we're betting most of us would prefer our affordable lifestyles in our comfortable homes where some still feel safe enough to leave their doors unlocked.
The obesity rate is something we could work on and improvements there would probably increase our longevity as well. But even though we're fat, no one has ever tried to limit the size of our soft drinks.