90% of Survey Respondents Consider Montgomery County an “Excellent” or “Good” Place to Live

Montgomery County has released the results of its 2021 biennial online survey of County residents.

Press release from Montgomery County:

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Despite nearly two years of restrictions and other challenges that residents have had to face because of the COVID-19 health crisis, 90 percent of respondents consider Montgomery County an “excellent” or “good” place to live. This is one of the findings of the biannual, independent National Community Survey on the “livability” of Montgomery County, which was commissioned by the Montgomery County Government and released today.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 29, 2021, and Jan. 17, 2022—during the height of the Omicron variant surge. A representative sample of 565 people were surveyed, and the results reflect residents’ overall perceptions toward Montgomery County with a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.  This survey was last conducted in 2019. Despite the impact of the health crisis on so many aspects of life during the past two years, there were not significant changes in how residents view their quality of life.

Survey results showed that 90 percent of respondents consider Montgomery County as “excellent” or “good” when asked about the County as a place to live. This is the same result as 2019, two percentage points higher than recorded in 2017 and four percentage points higher than the County’s survey in 2007.

“The last two years have been very tough for our residents and County employees,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We worked hard to keep people safe from COVID-19 while delivering essential services to our residents during the pandemic. The results of this survey are reassuring that our efforts had a positive impact on people’s lives. The findings of the survey are particularly encouraging since the research was conducted right in the middle of the Omicron variant surge. The increases in favorable responses to questions about the County’s livability and quality of life are a testament to the role our government has played in supporting and protecting our residents through these challenging times.”

The survey was conducted by the Boulder, Colorado-based Polco/National Research Center, which conducts hundreds of similar surveys for jurisdictions of all sizes around the nation. The center administered the County’s 2007, 2009, 2017 and 2019 surveys. There was a break in service between the 2009 and 2017 surveys due to budget constraints brought on by the Great Recession.

This year’s survey was the first time the number of languages the survey was offered in were expanded.  In previous years there were three languages (English, Spanish and Chinese) and this year, Korean, French, Vietnamese, Farsi, and Amharic were added in recognition of the diversity of the County.

Click here to view the full results of the survey.

Survey highlights include:  

  • 90 percent of respondents consider Montgomery County as excellent or good when asked about the County as a place to live. This is the same result as 2019, two percentage points higher than recorded in 2017, and four percentage points higher than the County’s first survey in 2007.
  • 86 percent of respondents consider Montgomery County as excellent or good when asked about the County’s overall quality of life – one percentage point higher than 2019, four percentage points higher than in 2017, and seven percentage points higher than the 2007 results.
  • 89 percent of respondents said that they are very or somewhat likely to recommend living in Montgomery County – one percentage point higher than 2019, two percentage points higher than in 2017, and the same result as the 2007 survey.
  • 86 percent of respondents said that they are very or somewhat likely to stay in Montgomery County for the next five years – two percentage points higher than 2019, and three percentage points higher than in 2017.
  • 82 percent of respondents feel that the overall image and reputation of Montgomery County is excellent or good – a decrease of two percentage points from 2019 survey, an increase of two percentage points from 2017 results, and a decrease of two percentage points from 2007 results.
  • 57 percent of respondents rated the overall direction that Montgomery County is taking as excellent or good. This is same result as 2019, one percentage point decrease of 2017 and five percentage points higher than the 2007 results.
  • 77 percent of respondents rated the quality of services of the Montgomery County government excellent or good compared to 55 percent of respondents rating the quality of services of the Federal Government excellent or good.

In terms of survey responses focusing on the Montgomery County economy, 75 percent of respondents rated the County’s overall economic health as excellent or good. The 2021 survey also showed an 18-percentage point increase in the overall quality of business and service establishments, an eight-percentage point increase in the vibrancy of downtown and commercial areas, an 11-percentage point increase in employment opportunities and an eight-percentage point increase in shopping opportunities as compared to the 2017 survey. However, only 21 percent of survey respondents rated the County’s cost of living as good or excellent. The responses reflect an ongoing challenge that the County and region have regarding affordable housing and the cost of living.

Areas of the survey that saw significant positive increases in results focused on transportation, commuting and mobility. Those results showed that 64 percent of residents surveyed responded that the overall quality of the Montgomery County transportation system is excellent or good. Specifically, satisfaction with traffic flow on major streets, increased six percentage points from the 2019 survey and 12 percentage points from the 2017 survey. Positive marks for ease of travel by car increased 15 percentage points, travel by public transportation increased six percentage points, by bicycle increased seven percentage points and by walking increased seven percentage points as compared to the 2017 survey.

Results showed that 77 percent of survey respondents rated the overall feeling of safety positively. Public Safety services such as fire protection, ambulance/EMS, fire prevention and education received praise from 90 percent of respondents and three quarters are pleased with the sheriff/police services and animal control.

Highlights regarding the economic health of the County include:

  • About 80 percent of respondents ranked the County highly (excellent or good) as a place to work.
  • Three-quarters of respondents are happy with the overall economic health of the County, find it a good place to visit, with vibrant downtown commercial areas and employment opportunities.

Education, Arts and Culture were praised by residents. Some highlights include:

  • About nine in 10 respondents gave positive ratings to public library services.
  • Eight in 10 gave high scores to overall opportunities for education, culture, the arts and K-12 education.
  • At least seven in 10 favorably rated adult educational opportunities, community support for the arts, opportunities to attend cultural/arts/music activities and opportunities to attend special events and festivals.

The survey also found some areas that allow room for improvement. Those included safety, housing affordability and mobility. Some safety ratings decreased since the last survey.

  • 77 percent of respondents said they had an overall excellent or good feeling of safety (down from 84 percent in 2019 and 81 percent in 2017.)
  • However, virtually all respondents reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods during the day and 90 percent said they feel safe during the day in the downtown and commercial areas.
  • Even though the overall rating dropped from 84 percent positive to 77 percent, these specific questions paint a slightly different and encouraging picture:

rate how safe or unsafe you feel;

  • Affordability is also an issue as two in 10 respondents positively rated the cost of living in Montgomery County, and slightly more than half of respondents felt that affordable housing had gotten somewhat worse or much worse in the past two years.

The 2021 biannual resident survey was conducted through mail outreach to 5,000 randomly selected County households. The data collection period ran from Nov. 29, 2021, through Jan. 17, 2022, and the overall response rate was 12 percent.

In addition to the random-sample survey, to ensure inclusivity and openness, the County issued the same survey to any County resident who wished to take it. The “opt in” open participation survey period was Dec. 22, 2021, through Jan. 17, 2022. There were 5,246 responses. These responses are included in the final report and are treated as a separate dataset.

Click here to see the 2021 survey report in detail, as well as the 2007, 2009, 2017 and 2019 surveys.

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