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This appendix includes a detailed desription and data source information for this asset class.

Class Definitions
Data Sources
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Quality of Life Asset Description

Perceptions about quality of life in a region can heavily impact attraction and retention efforts of companies, skilled workers, and entrepreneurs. Talent is mobile, and quality of life has assumed greater importance in economic development practices as many regions have developed strategies to nurture the “creative class.”

Quality of life is a subjective metric; people have differing opinions on what constitutes a “quality”. Basic, standardized measures of quality of life are well known and include cost of living, commuting times, and crime rates. However, the quality of life factors that can define a region are not as predictable. Portland, Oregon is well known for its environmentally sensitive planning and “walk ability”. In New York City, residents love the urban environment and proximity to arts and cultural amenities. Many citizens of Dallas, TX point to the Dallas Cowboys and the region’s other major professional sports teams as an important quality of life factor.

Not all characteristics of a region that are mentioned under the umbrella term “quality of life” are equally beneficial in terms of supporting innovation. Professional sports teams, for example, are great assets for promoting tourism and entertainment. However, their contributions to enhancing a region’s capacity for innovation are minimal. Economic developers must account for the various (and often competing) ideas about quality of life in a region and develop strategies that promote innovation and appeal to a citizenry’s tastes and preferences.

Quality of Life Metrics

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Inflow/Outflow of Residents’s Precis Metro Reports include an annual measure of resident inflows and outflows at the MSA, state, and national levels based on tax filing data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The data shows a household’s current county of residence, as well as the county to which a household may be moving, the number of household members, and household income. aggregates this data by metro area into gross migration. IRS data only covers those families that file tax returns, so also uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which covers all migrants, including international migration. The reports are available for purchase on the website (

Cost of Living

Several sources are available for obtaining cost-of-living data.’s Precis Metro Reports include an annual index of costs of living by MSA. Their index measures the relative cost to the average household in the nation to maintain its standard of living. The index is created by summing expenditures on various components of consumption in each metro area relative to average U.S. expenditures on the components. The components that vary across metro areas include housing, food and apparel, utilities, transportation, and auto insurance. Another source of data is the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA), which publishes its Cost of Living Index publication on a quarterly basis. The ACCRA index can be found at Both sources are available for purchase only.

Survey questions:

  • The region’s cost of living for your employees

  • The region’s overall quality of life (e.g., climate, cultural, and recreational opportunities)

Links to Data: View suggested Quality of Life public sources in the table below.

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Evaluation Areas Data Source Web site
Quality of Life Money Magazine Best Places to Live Report
Cost of Living ACCRA Cost of Living Index
Cost of Living Moody’s Précis Metro Reports
Migration Data Moody’s Précis Metro Reports
Migration Data U.S. Census American Fact Finder

The following data sources and evaluation criteria are all related to quality of life.

Amenities and Population Flow

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Data Evaluation Criteria
Parks and recreational facilities Cost of Living indices
Cultural attractions and institutions (museums, theater, music, etc.) Quality of Life indices
Inflow/Outflow of residents, by age and education Net migration rate by age and education level
Department of Labor CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,
Employment and Training Administration
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