When Washington Post data journalist Christopher Ingraham wrote a column about the best and worst places to live in America last summer, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. In addition to deeming Ventura County, Calif., the most desirable county based on a "natural amenities index," he named Red Lake County, Minn., as the "absolute worst place to live," sarcastically noting its claim to fame was "it is the only landlocked county in the United States that is surrounded by just two neighboring counties." And when outraged Minnesota residents (or as Ingraham called them, "Indignant Minnesota Twitter") took to social media to attack his description, sending him photos of scenic landscapes and painterly sunsets, Ingraham simply doubled down in an update two days later, saying residents there had "thin skins" and that he didn't hear people from other low-ranking states complaining about his write-up.
With that context in mind, Ingraham's next move may come as a bit of a surprise: He's moving himself, his wife, and their 2-year-old twin boys from Maryland to Red Lake County in May. "Long story short, I kind of fell in love with Red Lake County when I visited last year and we've always wanted to raise the boys in the country," he writes in a March 5 Facebook post, reinforcing that announcement with a tweet that same day that read, "Fact-check: True" in response to a Grand Forks Herald story about his big decision. He had felt obliged to actually visit Red Lake after all the backlash, and he was stunned at the "pure spectacle" he found there, complete with "flat-out gorgeous" scenery, friendly residents, and a sense of community he'd never encountered before. He says he'll work for the Post from his new home, with the plan to stick around for one or two years and "see how it goes." (Thinking of moving yourself? Here, the 10 best cities for families.)