We're No. 3 - but does it matter?

At the risk of sounding very unhip, I must confess that I didn't consider Boston's "coolness factor" before I decided to move here. I didn't think about how well the Red Sox or the Celtics were doing. And I couldn't have cared less about how many nightclubs there were.

For me, the decision was simple. I'd been offered a good job in a city that had world-class culture and a vibrant arts and literary scene. Everything else was gravy.

But according to Forbes magazine, most people my age are much more discriminating. They care about fun first. They want a locale that sizzles. So each year Forbes publishes a list of the Best Cities for Singles.

What makes a city hot?

Forbes looks at several factors, including night life, culture, job growth, cost of living, and the number of other singles. There's also a mysterious, all-important "buzz factor," which seems to indicate how late the bars stay open.

Fortunately for me, Boston has been in the Top 10 the last two years. I'm hip by default. But frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot.

I understand why so many cities are trying to attract the younger crowd. (See story.) But the Forbes list sounds a lot like the fashion advice one finds in Vogue. What's bad one year is rad the next.

For example, in 2001, Boston was No. 16. But in 2002, it shot to No. 1, largely because the New England Patriots had won the Super Bowl. This year we fell to No. 3. I'm supposed to take all that seriously?

Choosing a city is a lot like buying clothes. Peasant blouses or the color mauve may be hot this season, but do you really want a whole closet of them? Smart shoppers choose what looks good long term, not just what's "in" this season.

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