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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn Named to Top 10 Cities to Live

Last week U.S. News & World Report named Auburn one of the best places in America to live in 2009.

The list was comprised of ten cities chosen based on their qualities of life, strong economies and low living costs.

"Auburn's pretty tough to beat," Mayor Bill Ham said.

Residents of Auburn are proud to finally have the recognition.

"I thought we were the best-kept secret," said Tracie West, who serves on Auburn Rotary Club's Board of Directors. "I'm not surprised at all with this ranking."

According to the U.S. News & World Report Web site, one reason Auburn made the list was for its abundance of recreational outdoor activities, including Chewacla State Park and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Football didn't fall short on the list of recreations either.

U.S. News praises the Tigers' fall football season as one of the many fun things to do in the area.

"I mean, we have it all," West said. "Our parks and recreation, golf, athletics and lifestyle are all outstanding."

The tight-knit community and great quality of life gave Auburn another reason for landing on the list and its residents agree.

"We have Auburn University, our public school systems, and the fact that the community is a cornerstone for education," Ham said. "We see more and more people that want to come back here after attending the University and want to end up retiring here."

Ham said his family has lived in Auburn since 1930 and he has no plans of leaving anytime soon.

"It's a great place to raise kids and a family," Ham said. "We still have a small town atmosphere, but we're in close proximity to Atlanta and Birmingham."

Above all, Auburn has yet to see an economic downturn like so many other cities across the nation.

"Our economy has just been more stable," said Blake Parker, a sales associate for Weichert Realtors. "It's a good place for people to live. There is a low living cost and a great atmosphere."

After graduating from Auburn University, Parker said he settled in Auburn because he knew he would do better for himself here than in a bigger city with fewer jobs.

U.S. News rates Auburn's cost of living as average and also praises its low unemployment rate of 5.4 percent.

Auburn University may have something to do with that. It is the leading provider of jobs in the community, employing more than 7,000 people, according to U.S. News.

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While many of the area's residents have always seen Auburn's potential, the actual ranking came as a complete surprise to the community.

"We didn't even know Auburn was going to be a contender," Ham said.

City officials said they have been trying to figure out how to provide the best quality of life for the community, and it has finally paid off.

Ham said the City Council has recently started conducting citizen surveys, which let the citizens rank what is most important to the taxpayers.

"For the last two years we have been trying to get the best bang for our buck and provide a great quality of life," Ham said.

While Auburn has been recognized previously by Forbes and other journal entries, it has never been recognized by something like U.S. News, Ham said.

He said the ranking will definitely have a positive effect on the community.

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