Grade Your City
Thanks to a host of online sites, you can discover little publicized facts about your town -- or somewhere that you're thinking of moving. Check these out to see if you should keep your address.
Schools: For the student-teacher ratio at any U.S. public school, search the National Center for Education Statistics' Web site at www.nces.ed.gov/nceskids/school. Get the scoop on schools that have received the U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools Award at www.ed.gov/offices/OERI/BlueRibbonSchools.
Childcare: Get the mandated child-to-staff ratios for your state from the National Child Care Information Center's site at www.nccic.org/statepro.html.
Clean air: Download air quality statistics by city from the Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/airtrends.
Crime: Search crime stats for your city at www.fbi.gov/ucr/99cius.htm, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's site.
Playmates: Look up the U.S. Census's ranking of 245 metro areas by the percentage of children under 5 at www.census.gov/Press-Release/metro07.prn.
Go to www.bestplaces.net to see how your city compares to others in 30 categories, including crime, schools, and the job market.