When the weather in this town is just right, the sunbeams stretch down and light up the hard, oiled bodies sunning themselves on the beach, those glistening men and women eyeing one another voraciously along the surf. It's like the appetizer for a nighttime buffet. Later on, a throng of people, a panoply of genders, races, and sexual orientations,
Sound like Miami Beach? Nope. We're clearly talking about tiny, landlocked Olathe, Kansas.
A study published last week by web-content factory WalletHub has unintentionally revealed the reason you can't quite trust many of the so-called studies posted online and vomited out by news organizations week after week. A few days ago, WalletHub released a list of its "Best Beach Towns to Live In" and ranked each city in terms of affordability, weather, safety, economy, education, health, and quality of life.
Somehow, a landlocked city in northeast Kansas, which touts a tiny beach next to a lake, came in at number 20, while Miami Beach landed at number 27.
According to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, the average high in Olathe in January is 39 degrees. Olathe receives roughly 20 inches of snowfall per year.
Other so-called beach towns that topped Miami Beach: Multiple cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which technically have usable beaches next to tiny lakes that you can swim in without freezing to death during maybe one month of the year, and Folsom, California, which is most famous for containing Folsom State Prison. "Beach towns" in Alaska, Ohio, and Missouri also made the list but at least were ranked behind Miami Beach.
But none of the rankings was quite as hilarious as Olathe, which scored well in terms of "affordability" but is in no way the sort of place to which overworked Americans save up to retire. The study is a perfect explanation as to why not every "statistical" survey is created equal: WalletHub tried to find hidden "gems" that retirees or vacationers were missing, but apparently included every single town that had any stretch of beach, whether the sand stood next to the Atlantic Ocean or an irradiated lake that freezes over eight months of the year.
(The rankings were, at least, dominated by Florida and California towns. Naples, Key West, and St. Augustine made up numbers one, three, and five.)
Even Kansans were surprised about how well Olathe did.
"No joke: Website names Olathe one of the nation’s best beach towns," the Kansas City Star exclaimed, dispatching two whole reporters to get to the bottom of things. The Star noted that the only beach in Olathe stretches along an artificial lake created in the 1950s. In a glowing review, the area's hometown newspaper called Lake Olathe a "small body of water." The Star also noted that Olathe is "hundreds of miles from the ocean."
But that did not stop the Olathe city government from immediately taking a potshot at Miami Beach.
"Coming in ahead of Miami Beach, FL and Newport Beach, CA is OLATHE - named the 20th Best Beach Town to Live In in the U.S.!" the City of Olathe bragged.
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We'll give Kansas the win when it comes to housing affordability. But astoundingly, Olathe (and tons of other cities in the Midwest and/or near the Canadian border) received better weather rankings than Miami Beach. This seems to be due to the amount of weight WalletHub gave to "natural disasters," as opposed to the simple fact that it never gets cold here.
We strongly suggest WalletHub tweak its algorithm, lest the Miami Beach city government be forced to send a few goons to Kansas to rough up the Olathe city manager.