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Published October 11 2012

Benshoof: Taking a page out of NY journalist’s playbook

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Follow me on Twitter at @forumsamshoof as I live tweet the evening out with my friends and Mandi Woodruff with the hashtag #maNDi.

• Mandi Woodruff’s latest piece on coming to Fargo: http://goo.gl/YmuJ0

• CNN Money’s list of best places to live: http://goo.gl/S7xoe

FARGO - Be good this weekend, Fargo – we have a special guest coming to town.

Yes, about six weeks after she wrote about why she’d never live here, New York journalist Mandi Woodruff is making her visit to Fargo, being flown out by the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While she’s here, Woodruff plans on doing as much as she can. She’s going to the North Dakota State University football game on Saturday, renting a bike to cover as much ground as possible, checking out Oktoberbest and more.

And on Saturday night, my friends and I will take her out and show her the hotspots downtown where the hip young kids our age go, like JL Beers, the HoDo, Rhombus Guys and Dempsey’s Public House.

With lots going on around Fargo, it should be a weekend that highlights just how much fun it is to live here.

But despite the publicity it’ll give us, there have been more than just a few raised eyebrows since Woodruff announced she was coming.

A few have quipped that she got a free trip out of badmouthing our city, but it’s more than just that, in my opinion. She raised some valid points about why people want to live where they do, and it just so happened she got the attention of the F-M Visitors Bureau in doing so.

Along those lines, the points she made reminded me of two other cities that have received plenty of positive attention lately – Irvine, Calif., and Fort Collins, Colo.

Both cities (along with Fargo) recently appeared on CNN Money’s list of best small places to live, and both placed higher than Fargo.

Yet, like Woodruff’s initial stance toward Fargo, I don’t want to live in either of them. Here’s why:

Irvine, Calif.

This town of 213,600 people made the list because of its good schools and abundance of parks, not to mention California’s famous sunny beaches just 10 miles away.

Wait, really? 10 miles? What possible reason could I have to move to a city in California that’s not on the beach? And that’s not to mention housing prices there (according to CNN Money, the median price is $400,000 more than in Fargo.)

I think I’d much prefer the prairie to beachless California.

Fort Collins, Colo.

Sure, Colorado is picturesque. And sure, there are plenty of outdoor recreational activities and a fun cultural scene there.

According to CNN Money, though, Fargo has a younger median age (31.0 compared to 36.4), consistently better air quality and more bars within 15 miles (65 vs. 40).

So as beautiful as Fort Collins may be, or as good a community as Irvine may have, statistics don’t lie.

At least, that’s what I’m assuming. Based on what’s included in CNN Money’s list, I have reason to doubt that those cities are better than Fargo.

As Woodruff pointed out in her piece, it’s a feeling, rather than a list, that we should trust when it comes to picking a home.

Of course, just like Woodruff never visited Fargo before writing about it, I’ve never been to Irvine or Fort Collins. My opinion, like Woodruff’s, could yet be swayed.

Tourism bureaus, I await your call.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535