How can I tell if my town is financially strong?

Cities and towns are complex, adaptable systems; therefore, it's challenging to choose a set of criterion that everyone—whether they live in a big city or small town—can use to determine if their city or town is financially strong. 

So we asked ourselves: are there simple observations we use to signal that a city is either a strong town or on its way to becoming one? If you went to a place and had a little bit of time, could you scratch the surface and get a sense of how strong and resilient it was?

The result was the Strong Towns Strength Test—a 10-question, yes/no test that gives you the prompts and insights you need to get a general idea if your city or town is financially strong. We included questions that concerned citizens, elected officials, and planning professionals alike can answer, for example: 

  • If there were a revolution in your town, would people instinctively know where to gather to participate?
  • Is an owner of a single family home able to get permission to add a small rental unit onto their property without any real hassle?
  • If your largest employer left town, are you confident the city would survive?

While you won't get concrete financial figures, you will discover if your city's or town's tendencies and regulations fit in the big picture of financial health. And if the questions seem intimidating, don't worry: we've included links to step-by-step guides to help you answer them. 

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