U.S. News & World Report just released this year's list of the best places to live in America after evaluating the country’s 125 most populous metropolitan areas. Several factors were considered, including affordability, job prospects and quality of life. Data such as crime rates, availability of health care and median household income was used in conjunction with results from polls. For example, they asked 2,500 people from all over the country where they'd prefer to live to create a desirability index. Net migration — how many people are moving to or away from each metro area — was also a significant factor when coming up with the final ranking.
So, which cities topped the list?
Austin named No. 1 place to live in the U.S.
For the third year in a row, Austin, Texas, took the No. 1 spot. Although the number of people moving to the state capital has decreased, it scored high in desirability, and its net migration score was still higher than that of most cities.
Colorado cities took the next two spots, with Denver and Colorado Springs ranking second and third, respectively. Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Des Moines, Iowa, rounded out the top five, proving that coastal cities are no longer dominating.
“Our Northeastern cities, which are epicenters of higher education and economic development, are not growing nearly as much as places in Florida, California and Texas,” Devon Thorsby, real estate editor for U.S. News & World Report, said in a statement. “Plus, they are expensive to live in. Top-ranked places have the characteristics people are looking for, including steady job growth, affordability and a high quality of life.”
While the majority of the top 25 best places to live are located in the middle of the country, the Pacific Northwest is still popular thanks to its tech boom. San Francisco — which moved up from No. 20 to No. 7 — Portland, Oregon, and Seattle all took spots in the top 10. Incredibly, only one Northeast city cracked the top 20. Washington, D.C., dropped to No. 19 after ranking No. 8 last year due to a decrease in housing affordability and net migration. Portland, Maine, was the next closest city, coming in at the 23rd spot, while New York City sat way down at No. 90 on the list.
Florida is also a state of note this year as Sarasota debuted at No. 18, with the highest net migration score and increases in desirability, affordability, quality of life and job growth. Tampa also ranked well in terms of housing affordability, net migration, quality of life and job market scores, helping it climb to No. 56 from No. 75.
And there were standouts in particular categories. Huntsville, Alabama, had the best housing affordability, while San Jose, California, had the highest salary.
In terms of the worst places to live, San Juan, Puerto Rico — which is still recovering from 2017's devastating Hurricane Maria — ranked last again, while several California cities, including Bakersfield, Stockton and Modesto, filled out the bottom of the list. Not surprisingly, New York had the worst commute, with Washington, D.C., a close second.
How does your city rank? Check out the list below.
20 Best U.S. Cities to Live In
1. Austin, Texas
2. Denver, Colorado
3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
4. Fayetteville, Arkansas
5. Des Moines, Iowa
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
7. San Francisco, California
8. Portland, Oregon
9. Seattle, Washington
10. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
11. Huntsville, Alabama
12. Madison, Wisconsin
13. Grand Rapids, Michigan
14. San Jose, California
15. Nashville, Tennessee
16. Asheville, North Carolina
17. Boise, Idaho
18. Sarasota, Florida
19. Washington, D.C.
20. Charlotte, North Carolina