Full List of Top 50 Best Places to Live in America Right Now
Full List of Top 50 Best Places to Live in America Right Now

Choosing the best city to live in depends on your own personal priorities. Maybe you’re specifically looking for somewhere that’s great for single people, remote workers, or foodies. Maybe you’re a meat lover who mainly just wants access to the best barbecue America has to offer.

In other words, best can be a pretty subjective modifier. But there are certain metrics that we can all agree do help evaluate how good or bad a city might be to live in—like unemployment rates, housing costs, crime rates, air quality index, average commute time, and the quality of education and healthcare systems.

Based on those and other factors, the city of Huntsville in northern Alabama is apparently heaven on Earth (or as close as you can get without leaving the country). Huntsville, which plays host to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, is ranked number one on U.S. News & World Report’s latest list of the best places to live in the U.S.

How this ranking was calculated

The Best Places to Live ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall livability of an area. This grade takes into account several key factors of a location, including the quality of local schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment statistics, and access to amenities in an attempt to measure the overall quality of an area.

  • What it costs – This past year, the definition of “affordable” evolved as home prices continued to hit records. We compared each city’s cost of living data from the Economic Policy Institute with per capita personal income from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to get an idea of how much of your take-home pay you can actually take home. We also looked at year-over-year home price data from real estate brokerage Redfin to understand where prices are surging faster than others, and where you might be able to buy a home for a bit less.
  • How it feels – To get a sense of the quality of life in these cities, we considered overall well-being based on the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index; employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; culture, outdoor opportunities and weather based on information from each city’s convention and visitors bureau and historical data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and safety, including crime rates based on FBI data (or local reporting for cities not captured in government data).
  • Who’s moving there – We also evaluated the net migration of each city over the past year. Each city on this list experienced a positive net migration, which means that more people moved in than moved out.

What's America's best place to live in 2022?

Many of America’s most famous cities did make the list: San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C. all landed in the top 20. But in general, there are quite a few dark horses. Florida, for example, has six cities in the top 50, but Orlando and Miami aren’t among them. Similarly, New York has four—but New York City is conspicuously missing. In short, cultural meccas and highly trafficked vacation spots aren’t necessarily ideal places to settle down.

The city’s overall score was a 7.0, edging out runner-up Colorado Springs, Colorado, by just two-tenths of a point. Rounding out the top five were Green Bay, Wisconsin; Boulder, Colorado; and San Jose, California.

Austin, Texas, came out on top for the third consecutive year, while Denver, Colorado, moved back up to No. 2 after being topped by Colorado Springs in the previous year.

A handful of cities entered the top 50 list, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Knoxville, Tennessee; Lansing, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; Pensacola, Florida; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Cincinnati’s metro area was ranked as one of the best places to live in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Cincinnati ranked #41 on a list of 150 metro areas with an overall score of 6.4.

U.S. News says the ranking is based on quality of life, job market, value of living and desire to live in the area. The report cited ‘a wealth of amenities’ including museums, professional sports teams and a wide selection of restaurants. It also added the excellent public, private and Montessori schools.

The report reads, “But Cincinnati is hardly a place that’s all work and no play. Locals love a good party, be it for the first day of baseball season or in honor of the city’s German heritage. Even when the event calendar is empty, residents have plenty of ways to stay busy, from visiting an array of museums to noshing on the region’s famous chili.”

Cincinnati also ranked #1 in best places to live in Ohio and #70 in best places to retire.

Full List of 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

1. Huntsville, Alabama

Photo: huntsville
Photo: huntsville

This city gets top marks for being family-friendly, thanks to its good public schools, wealth of outdoor activities and affordable living costs.

A major Huntsville attraction is the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where visitors can see replicas of rockets and learn about outer space.

2. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is "booming, with new residences popping up alongside quality schools, parks, and cultural attractions," touts a local expert. The city is just an hour's drive from Denver and in close proximity to Aspen and Vail's world-class ski resorts. Military jobs influence Colorado Springs' culture and economy, but jobs are also available in medical innovation and tech.

3. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Home to one of the most storied football franchises in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers, Green Bay has the perfect mix of big-city amenities complemented with a Midwestern, small-town feel. This city boasts a thriving entertainment and arts scene, revitalized downtown, and two college campuses, creating an energy that may appeal to young families as well as retirees.

4. Boulder, Colorado

Photo: airbnb
Photo: airbnb

Boulder ranks highly for its outdoor activities and the health and fitness of its residents. Its Rocky Mountains location makes it a great spot for hiking and climbing.

It is also the home of the University of Colorado, Boulder. The city gets top marks for its nightlife, some of which revolves around students and college sports teams, such as the Colorado Buffaloes.

5. San Jose, California

The sprawling city of San Jose is "as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district," said a local expert. Young residents and recent graduates of nearby Stanford and UC Berkeley have no trouble finding jobs in the area, which touts Facebook, Google, and Apple as its largest private-sector employers.

6. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

The City of Oaks is an excellent spot for families thanks to its highly rated public schools, employment rate and affordable cost of living.

Raleigh is home to art and science museums, many outdoor activities and a bustling nightlife.

7. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Photo: arkansasrazorbacks
Photo: arkansasrazorbacks

Fayetteville sits among the Ozark Mountains and is home to the University of Arkansas' flagship campus. The surrounding area of northwest Arkansas is home to headquarters for seven Fortune 500 companies including Walmart and Tyson Foods.

The city has experienced immense growth, according to a local expert, who said the region has evolved "from a small town to a center of higher education, culture, commerce, and entrepreneurialism."

8. Portland, Maine

Located right on the water at Casco Bay and lined with cobblestone streets, Portland immediately evokes the quaintness of a much smaller town. Between fishing, sailing, cross-country skiing, and exploring the city's buzzing nightlife, there's no shortage of things to do. Seafood lovers can nosh on fresh catches at the city's modern oyster bars and or grab one of Maine's signature lobster rolls.

9. Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota boasts "warm temperatures year-round, award-winning beaches, and a thriving arts and cultural scene," said a local expert. The biggest employers in Sarasota are in education, trade, and transportation, and the leisure and hospitality sector touts a low unemployment rate powered by a recent increase in tourism and a flood of new residents.

10. San Francisco, California

Photo: pods
Photo: pods

The Golden City ranks as the No. 2 best city for young professionals in the country.

With its many hills, large recreational green spaces and high level of walkability, it's also the second-healthiest place to live.

11. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor ranks as one of the best cities to raise a family in America.

The city also has some of the best public schools in the country, plus affordable home prices and a high employment rate.

12. Naples, Florida

Long known as a preferred retirement spot for the rich, powerful and cold-averse, the greater Naples and Marco Island area supplies pristine beaches, sprawling golf courses, and fine dining and shopping. Closer to the area’s rural interior, meanwhile, cattle graze and seasonal workers pick tomatoes in the fields around Immokalee, a farming community an hour’s drive outside of Naples.

13. Austin, Texas

Photo: caranddriver
Photo: caranddriver

The diverse city attracts young families looking for good public schools, job and business growth, and plentiful outdoor activities. Austin is home to many restaurants, bars and large green spaces such as Zilker Park, a popular spot for picnicking and swimming.

Austin is also a cultural hub. The city is home to a variety of music and film festivals, including Austin City Limits and South by Southwest.

14. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines is drawing millennials and young families alike for its "one-of-a-kind shops, locally-owned restaurants, and hip bars" as well as its historical residences in quiet neighborhoods, said a local expert. Home to more than 80 insurance companies including giants Allied Insurance and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the job market is thriving.

15. Boise, Idaho

Idaho's capital city is "a recreationalist's paradise," according to one local expert, who also said Boise sits "squarely on the boundary of urban and rural, civilized and wild, refined and raw." The region is home to more than 25,000 Boise State University students and provides jobs at government agencies as well as in tech and healthcare.

16. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Photo: mercyhealth
Photo: mercyhealth

Grand Rapids attracts "college students and young families with its healthy job market, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational activities," said a local expert. The self-proclaimed "Beer City USA" has more than 80 breweries as well as dynamic public art and music scenes.

Once a hub for furniture production, Grand Rapids' job market is now dominated by education and healthcare, with many opportunities for workers without a college degree.

17. Madison, Wisconsin

The bustling Wisconsin capital city is a good spot for families and young professionals.

Its urban-suburban mix includes good public schools, affordable housing, plenty of outdoor activities and a nightlife largely centered around the students and grads of University of Wisconsin-Madison.

18. Boston, Massachusetts

This historic city is home to such schools as Boston University, Emerson College and the Berklee College of Music. Due to its high number of job-seeking students and recent grads, Boston is also one of the best cities for young professionals in America.

Beantown is home to many restaurants, bars, shops and historic monuments.

19. Washington, D.C.

Photo: tripsavvy
Photo: tripsavvy

The U.S. capital is one of the best places for young professionals due to its employment rates, job and business growth, nightlife and cost of living.

The political hotbed of America is also home to many historic museums and monuments, and has outdoor activities such as farmers markets and music festivals.

20. Melbourne, Florida

Between fishing, boating, and a plethora of bars and restaurants, there's never a shortage of things to do in the Melbourne area. The city's ripe with retirees and "snowbirds" — people who split their time between colder climates in the summer and Florida in the winter — who can enjoy days on one of the many nearby golf courses and nights out exploring the local shops and art galleries.

21. Albany, New York

Despite the snowy winters, living in Albany comes with several advantages. Albany offers a cost of living lower than the national average and the cost of housing sits well below the rest of the US as a whole. In terms of jobs, the city's state government and health care companies are Albany's primary industries for residents there.

Albany's downtown is lined with art galleries, wine shops, and churches for visitors to peruse. In keeping with the city's cold climate, hockey is the sport of choice for residents.

22. Portland, Oregon

Photo: travelandleisure
Photo: travelandleisure

Portland isn't for everybody — its slogan is "Keep Portland Weird," after all. But one local expert asserts that it's a "well-rounded city with more than just the offbeat shops and events" and a population that has "more academic degrees than the national average."

Major employer Intel Corporation calls Portland home, as well as the headquarters for Nike, located about seven miles outside of Portland.

23. Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah's capital city ranks highly for its family-friendly atmosphere, thanks in part to its well-liked public schools. Salt Lake City also offers a buzzing nightlife, including many restaurants and bars.

The area is also home to the NBA's Utah Jazz and a "Real Housewives" franchise.

24. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville's beach-adjacent location makes it ideal for outdoor activities. In addition to spending lazy days in the sand, residents can also visit the area's prime golf courses or go hiking, camping, and kayaking in the nearby parks. Jacksonville also continues to grow, with burgeoning art and music scenes, as well as new business development, according to a local expert.

25. Nashville, Tennessee

Photo: visittheusa
Photo: visittheusa

While Nashville has exported its famous local specialty, hot chicken, to restaurants around the U.S., many are deciding to go straight to the source to try the culinary delight. Of course, they’re coming for more than a recipe: The city’s music industry, coupled with employment opportunities in healthcare, education and insurance, make the city an ideal place to work and play (or just listen). If you’re thinking about moving to Nashville, you might find yourself competing with others looking to relocate, however. Real estate agents in the area estimate that 82 people move to The Music City every day.

26. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The western Pennsylvania city ranks highly as a place for young professionals to plant roots. The diverse city has affordable rents, a buzzing nightlife and many outdoor activities centered around the city's various sports teams.

Pittsburghers can often be found enjoying Pirates games at PNC Park or watching the Steelers make tackles at Heinz Field.

27. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Don't be deterred by the weather. St. Paul has a lot to offer besides freezing temperatures.

The city's rent prices and high employment rate attract many young professionals to the area.

St. Paul's diverse population has created a burgeoning arts and culture scene. The city also boasts some stunning architecture, as seen here inside the Minnesota State Capitol.

28. Lincoln, Nebraska

Photo: selectlincoln
Photo: selectlincoln

Lincoln is one of the best places to live in 2022.

The capital city with a small-town feel ranks highly for its outdoor activities and nightlife. That includes attending a Nebraska Cornhuskers game at Memorial Stadium, or taking advantage of the many restaurants and bars in the area.

29. Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska's biggest city ranks highly for its access to good public schools, for its high employment rate and its access to outdoor activities and attractions.

Omaha's population is roughly 60% homeowners vs. 40% renters.

30. Charlotte, North Carolina

Good public schools, affordable rent prices and a high employment rate attract residents to this North Carolina city.

Charlotte is made up of roughly 60% renters, 40% homeowners.

31. Hickory, North Carolina

Photo: hickorync
Photo: hickorync

With its moderate climate and sweeping mountain views, the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area, sometimes known as the Catawba Valley, is a home for retirees and families and is becoming a destination for young professionals as well. The region is starting to see growth from Charlotte, which is just an hour's drive south from Hickory, and sees influence from beer- and art-loving Asheville, just an hour west into the mountains.

32. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas

A healthy balance of urban and rural, Dallas offers residents "big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living," shared one local expert. There's local bars, retail shops, and plenty of sports spirit to satisfy the huge population. The city — with large employers in business, finance, and education — is teeming with young professionals.

33. Knoxville, Tennessee

For sports enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike, Knoxville, Tennessee, is a great place to call home. Close to the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Ijams Nature Center, getting outdoors and enjoying nature is a breeze in this Southern city.

34. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Photo: visitlex
Photo: visitlex

This is another highly rated location for families thanks to its good public schools, low rents and high employment rate.

The city is home to Kentucky Horse Park. The park is not only an international equestrian competition venue; it is also an educational theme park that attracts visitors to Lexington every year.

35. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Located on the banks of the Susquehanna River and the foothills of the Appalachian Trail, Harrisburg offers residents unlimited access to the outdoors.

Many are employed by the state and federal government in Harrisburg, but there's also several large private-sector companies that are top employers, including Hershey's, Rite Aid, and D&H Distributing.

36. Seattle, Washington

The Emerald City ranks as the No.1 best city for outdoor activities in the country.

Seattle is a great place for not only sightseers (think the Space Needle and Pike Place Market) but also nature-lovers who want to go hiking, biking and kayaking without having to travel too far away.

37. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Photo: bestwestern
Photo: bestwestern

Although it's better known to outsiders as a vacation hot spot for beachgoers and golfers, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is also an attractive place to live for a number of reasons. Young professionals, growing families and empty nesters who are drawn to the area's mild weather and beaches set down roots here and enjoy the area's relatively low cost of living.

38. Syracuse, New York

When you hear about Syracuse, New York, it's often as the punchline of a weather-related joke. Snow is certainly a part of the central New York lifestyle, considering residents get more than 120 inches of it per year. However, the region has much more to offer than just snow drifts and slushy water. Syracuse is more affordable than many other major U.S. metro areas, making it a popular place to live for families and retirees. Young professionals also enjoy the region, both for its prices and because there's plenty to do.

39. Tampa, Florida

Tampa is family-friendly and offers good public schools, affordable housing and entertainment destinations such as Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium and Tropicana Field.

Thanks to its wide array of bars and restaurants, Tampa also offers a bustling nightlife.

40. Kalamazoo, Michigan

Photo: outtraveler
Photo: outtraveler

Kalamazoo is as fun and quirky as its unusual name suggests. Its theaters, museums and live music venues make the city an arts and culture hot spot, and its craft brewery scene attracts visitors from around the region.

Community events such as chili cook-offs, vintage fairs and farmers markets make this metro area a place where residents never find themselves without something to do.

41. Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is a city that loves its food, sports, and culture. There's something for everyone in the Midwest's Queen City, from a strong job market to a busy event calendar filled with museums, baseball, and local heritage events.

Residents appreciate the city's affordability — housing there is cheaper than the national average, despite Cincinnati being one of the 30 biggest metro areas in the US.

42. Rochester, New York

The family-friendly city has highly rated public schools and parks, as well as a high employment rate. The local Mayo Clinic provides many job opportunities for people in the area.

Rochester is one of the best cities to buy a house in the country.

43. Greenville, South Carolina

Photo: cliffsliving
Photo: cliffsliving

Once a sleepy small town, Greenville has witnessed a cultural revival in recent years, complete with an influx of new restaurants and businesses. Though the summers can get hot, the city's typically mild weather makes it possible to explore downtown on foot any time of the year.

An influx of manufacturing jobs has also boosted Greenville's economy, with brand-name companies, such as GE and Michelin, setting up shop in town.

44. Pensacola, Florida

This diverse area is home to a 10-day fiesta, gorgeous beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico, and great areas for fishing. Pensacola received high marks for desirability and net migration, meaning more and more people are interested in moving to this beautiful part of the country.

45. Buffalo, New York

In the early 1900s, Buffalo was a beacon of industry; located on Lake Erie, Buffalo was a hub of transport for goods between the East Coast and the Midwest. The Great Depression sparked the slow decline of Buffalo's lofty economic status, but the region is now once again on the rise.

Today, a rapidly developing waterfront and one of the nation's most advanced medical corridors, located in the heart of downtown, are just two signs that this Rust Belt area is experiencing a renaissance. An increasing number of new businesses are benefiting from partnerships with the local government.

46. Asheville, North Carolina

Photo: apartmenttherapy
Photo: apartmenttherapy

It's no surprise why the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina, is beloved by tourists and residents alike. Nestled in between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, Asheville is a magnet for outdoor lovers as well as fans of music, art, and craft beer.

47. Hartford, Connecticut

Located in the Connecticut River Valley, Hartford was once the home to notable historic figures, including Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Among the city's historic attractions, today it offers nearby entertainment venues, ski slopes, state parks.

The aerospace, healthcare, and financial services industries dominate the job market in Hartford, which is home to Aetna Inc., United Technologies Corp., and Hartford Hospital.

48. Fort Wayne, Indiana

The Rust Belt hub of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is being revitalized as of late. Manufacturers including General Motors and BAE Systems have brought jobs to the area, while its economy is seeing a spike from young people eager to move downtown from the suburbs.

"With its low cost of living and quiet neighborhoods, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is an excellent place to buy a house, start a career, launch a business and raise children," a local expert said.

49. Charleston, South Carolina

Photo: pods
Photo: pods

With its balmy weather and proximity to the beach, the coastal city ranks highly for its residents' health and fitness and for the city's plethora of outdoor activities.

The area is also home to some great eats. Charleston attracts chefs and foodies eager for a taste of the region's traditional "Low Country" cuisine.

50. Peoria, Illinois

When people want to know whether something has wide appeal, they might ask “Will it play in Peoria?” But don’t let that old saying trick you. Peoria, Illinois, is not dull.

This brawling, bruising, sometimes bawdy and always big-hearted river town gave the world Caterpillar equipment, the comic Richard Pryor, the feminist Betty Friedan, the first televangelist Fulton Sheen, life-saving penicillin in abundance and pizza-sized pork tenderloin sandwiches. Its economy survived Prohibition and the Rust Belt, and it now turns its attention to health care, autonomous vehicles, ag-tech and ecotourism.

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