U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today unveiled the 2021-2022 Best Places to Live in the United States. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic causing many Americans to re-evaluate where to settle down, the new list ranks the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and desirability.
For the second consecutive year, Boulder, CO ranks No. 1, due to high quality of life, job market and desirability scores. Raleigh & Durham, NC jumped nine spots to take No. 2 and Huntsville, AL catapulted 12 spots to No. 3. Fayetteville, AR rose four spots to No. 4, and Austin, TX fell two spots to No. 5.
“This year we’re looking at how the most populous metro areas in the U.S. fared for much of the coronavirus pandemic, and seeing how far they’ll need to come to recover,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”
With an unemployment rate reaching a monthly average of nearly 9% last year, Boston, MA fell 13 spots to No. 31, while Las Vegas, NV – which had an average unemployment rate of around 15% – plummeted 50 spots to No. 137. Also due in part to a decline in job market scores, San Diego, CA fell 52 spots to No. 97 and Honolulu, HI fell 42 spots to No. 113. Meanwhile, metro areas that have significant employment in research, academia or aerospace engineering – such as top three metro areas Raleigh & Durham, NC and Huntsville, AL – tended to experience more economic stability and rank better overall.
In addition, a rising cost of living – which factors into the value score – contributed to areas like Austin, TX (No. 5), Colorado Springs, CO (No. 6) and Denver, CO (No. 14) dropping slightly in the rankings. “Housing affordability is always of great concern, but as people solidify their plans to work remotely, struggle to find a house in a hot housing market or consider a cross-country move, a low cost of living is even more important,” said Thorsby.
The 2021-2022 Best Places to Live were determined based on a methodology that factored in job market, value, quality of life, desirability and net migration ratings. They were determined in part using a public survey of thousands of individuals throughout the U.S. to find out what qualities they consider important in a place to live. The methodology also factors in data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sharecare, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals.
Best Places to Live is part of U.S. News’ expanding Money channel, which includes Credit Cards, Loans, Real Estate, Investing, Retirement, Personal Finance and Careers content, rankings and in-depth analysis to help consumers navigate complex financial decisions. U.S. News helps individuals better understand the housing market, from getting a mortgage and working with an agent to buying and selling a home.
2021-2022 U.S. News Best Places to Live – Top 10
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About U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower citizens, consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
SOURCE U.S. News & World Report