Affordability and state taxes are the top reasons New Canaan residents would move to another town or state, newly released survey results say.
Property taxes and improved train service are the top suggested changes from locals, according to the results of a survey conducted by a Glastonbury-based market research company.
More than 20% of 2,151 respondents suggested that New Canaan “improve/maintain train service” by providing more frequent and faster service in order to attract new residents to town, according to the GreatBlue Research survey conducted Jan. 7 to 28 (PDF embedded below).
The quality of New Canaan schools are what primarily draws and keeps people here, the survey found.
“The highest frequency of surveyed residents (71.8%) reported ‘quality of schools’ is one of the primary reasons they chose to live in New Canaan, followed by ‘downtown village’ (42.1%) and ‘family friendliness/strength of the community’ (35.0%),” GreatBlue’s survey found. “ ‘Quality of schools’ was also reported by the highest frequency of respondents (49.0%) as the overall primary reason they chose to live in New Canaan. Additionally, a high frequency of residents surveyed who have lived in the town for
less than one (1) year’ (71.2%) reported ‘quality of schools’ as the primary reason they chose to live in New Canaan.”
The long-awaited survey results come in the midst of a tight budget season in which the Board of Finance called for a 2% reduction in operating costs across municipal departments and a maximum increase of 1.5% for the school district.
The Board of Selectmen last June approved an approximately $20,000 contract with GreatBlue for the survey. The idea for it originated in November 2018 during a multi-board workshop prior to the last budget season, when officials decided to conduct a survey of residents to better understand spending priorities.
According to the survey, “the majority of surveyed residents reported they believe New Canaan should ‘retain the level of spending’ for” the New Canaan Library’s annual operating budget, schools, open space, Public Works, Human Services, Parks and Recreation and public safety.
Under “Considerations,” GreatBlue said, “It is important that New Canaan continues to focus on the public school systems and communicate the value of the education received, as this might attract potential residents who may be looking to start families or have school age children.”
“Reasons for living in New Canaan differed between older and younger residents surveyed,” the market researchers found. “While the primary reason among younger residents for deciding to continue living in New Canaan was quality of schools, residents 55 or older continue to live in New Canaan for the town’s family friendliness/strength of the community. Additionally, nearly one in ten residents reported the lack of senior housing would cause them to move to another town or state. If not already being done so, New Canaan leaders should take a deeper dive into the needs of older residents. It may be helpful to conduct in-depth interviews or focus groups among senior residents of town in order to gain insights into their desires and needs as they get older.”