SHERIDAN — Sheridan has been identified as the third best city for young families in Wyoming by an independent consumer advocacy and financial literacy website. Nerdwallet.com Analyst Mike Anderson said he looked at several financial and social parameters to compile a top 10 list of family-friendly Wyoming towns.
“We do studies like this as a first-cut guide to home ownership,” Anderson said. “The price of the home in and of itself doesn’t tell you about quality of living in a particular town.”
Anderson said Sheridan’s high ranking on the list was not for financial reasons.
“If you look at the Top 10 Wyoming towns, Lovell is number one,” Anderson said. “The average home value there is $119,000. In Sheridan, it’s $190,000, but the average levels of income in the two towns are similar.”
Anderson said this means it costs a lot more to live in Sheridan, but that price is equalled out by other, mostly non-financial factors.
Executive Director of Forward Sheridan Jay Stender calls the other factors the “cost of entry” into an active, safe community.
“The disparity between housing costs is a challenge for Sheridan, and it has been for years,” Stender said. “Housing costs are higher here because people want to live here by choice. The externalities for values that are not reflected in the market are what separate us.”
Stender said the big factors that attracted his family, as well as many others, are Sheridan’s strong school system, a wide variety of opportunities to peruse the arts and recreation within the community via the Sheridan YMCA, recreation department, school district and other avenues.
Anderson said school performance acted as an equalizer for his study.
“We used a rating from a school evaluation company called GreatSchools, which rates schools based on standardized test scores,” Anderson said. “Sheridan got a nine out of 10.”
Stender said home prices in Sheridan are between $20 and $25 more per square foot than many other areas in the state, even with Sheridan’s housing market being relatively better than it has been in recent years. He said at one point, home prices rivaled those in Jackson Hole.
Stender said other costs of living are comparable to other metro areas.
“Material costs are similar to what you’d find in Billings or Casper,” he said.
The NerdWallet appraisal noted Sheridan boasts access to mountain recreation. Stender agreed that for outdoor enthusiasts, not having to expend a lot of time and gas money to get into the Bighorns can be a great incentive.
“That cost of entry is right then, when you buy a house,” Stender said. “As you go through the rest of your life, Sheridan is a great place to be.”