The United States is filled with incredible cities, each with its own set of credentials and clout to attract visitors from around the world. But which spots are actually the places to live?
U.S. News & World Report just unveiled their list of 2017 Best Places to Live in America after ranking the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas.
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The new list took into account several factors, including affordability, job prospects and quality of life. A public survey of thousands of individuals across the country was also used to determine which qualities people consider important in a hometown. Then, data from the United States Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics — as well as U.S. News rankings of the best high schools and best hospitals — were considered to make up the final ranking.
“When considering a move people are concerned about finding a job in their field, earning enough to afford a home, sending their kids to good schools and feeling like a part of their community," said Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News, in a statement. "The Best Places to Live ranking takes all of that into account — the metro areas that do well are the ones with strong job markets and high quality of life."
So, which city took the top spot this year? Austin, Texas, came in at No. 1, bumping the previous winner, Denver, Colorado, to No. 2. The reason? A lot of people are moving to Austin, and the job market and quality of life scores there also saw improvement. In addition, the metro area received a higher percentage of votes in the desirability survey, in which 2,000 random internet users were asked to choose which of the 100 metro areas they would prefer to live in.
Rounding out the top five are San Jose, California, which climbed from No. 10 to No. 3; Washington, D.C., which moved up four spots to No. 4; and surprise city Fayetteville, Arkansas, took the fifth spot. Fayetteville may seem like an odd fit for the top 10, but because Walmart, J.B. Transport, Tyson Foods Inc. and the University of Arkansas call the area home, the city's job market is booming. That’s in addition to the fact the housing market is affordable and there is a high quality of life.
A few other cities saw a boost this year, including Boston, Massachusetts, which moved to No. 8 from No. 30 because of a drop in the unemployment rate, and Salt Lake City, which went from No. 27 to No. 10 after its cost of living improved. Hartford, Connecticut; Syracuse, New York; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, all climbed more than 20 spots into the top 50 as they all had higher affordability scores in 2017.
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In terms of the worst places to live, San Juan, Puerto Rico, ranked last, while many Southern California cities also filled out the bottom of the list because of especially high home prices coupled with residents not earning enough to balance out the high cost of living. And though New York City jumped from No. 96 to No. 80 because of a slight increase in its value score because of a salary bump, it is still behind many other Northeastern cities, including Philadelphia and Baltimore.
How does your city rank? Check out the top 20 below.
The top 20 best cities to live in the U.S.
1. Austin, Texas
2. Denver, Colorado
3. San Jose, California
4. Washington, D.C.
5. Fayetteville, Arkansas
6. Seattle, Washington
7. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
8. Boston, Massachusetts
9. Des Moines, Iowa
10. Salt Lake City, Utah
11. Colorado Springs, Colorado
12. Boise, Idaho
13. Nashville, Tennessee
14. Charlotte, North Carolina
15. Dallas, Texas
16. San Francisco, California
17. Minneapolis, Minnesota
18. Madison, Wisconsin
19. Grand Rapids, Michigan
20. Houston, Texas