The 25 best cities for living in the U.S.

Here are the 25 best places to live in the United States

The 25 best cities for living in the U.S.

Are you planning to move to a different place in the country to start anew? If yes, then this ranking can help you decide on the next city you will call home.

To determine the 25 best cities for living in the U.S. in 2021-2022, media company U.S. News looked at various data like the cost of living, job market, crime rates, quality of education, and more on the country’s 150 most populous metro areas. The data were weighted based on responses from a survey of more than 3,600 people across the country to find out what matters most to them when picking a new place to live in. Below are the 25 best cities for living in the U.S:

#1 Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Metro Population: 322,510

Median Home Price: $528,833

Average Annual Salary: $67,160

For the second year in a row, Boulder is the best place to live in in the U.S., out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the country. Based on the desirability survey and excellent education for high schoolers, Boulder has a positive reputation among U.S. residents. People living in Boulder also enjoy a high quality of life with great mountain views from their windows and an average annual salary of $67,160.

#2 Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
Credit: James Willamor / Flickr

Metro Population: 1,959,006

Median Home Price: $329,709

Average Annual Salary: $56,888

Because of its affordability and strong job market, the Raleigh and Durham metro area remains one of the top picks of people to relocate to. Some of the consistently growing industries in the area include research, technology, education, and health care. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Raleigh and Durham metro area grew by 5.87% due to net migration from 2015 to 2019.

#3 Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Metro Population: 457,003

Median Home Price: $192,667

Average Annual Salary: $55,980

Huntsville’s stronger job market in the midst of unemployment concerns across the country helps the city jump from No. 15 to No. 3 in the overall ranking. The most affordable place to live in out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Huntsville also has several local companies focused on science, technology, engineering, and math, which contribute to a higher average annual salary for the city residents.

#4 Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Metro Population: 514,259

Median Home Price: $203,150

Average Annual Salary: $47,600

Fayetteville’s low cost of living, strong population growth due to net migration, and steady job market all help the city achieve the No. 4 spot.

#5 Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Metro Population: 2,114,441

Median Home Price: $377,693

Average Annual Salary: $55,190

Austin was the No. 1 best place to live in in the U.S. for three years in a row in 2017, 2018, and 2019. After it was unseated in 2020 to rank No. 3, the city falls again to No. 5. Despite this, Austin is still an ideal place to live for many. It remains to have a strong job market and continued long-term population growth due to net migration, even though its cost of living continues to rise.

#6 Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Metro Population: 723,498

Median Home Price: $455,371

Average Annual Salary: $52,360

Among all the 150 most populous metro areas in the country, Colorado Springs is the most desirable place to live, sharing the top spot with Honolulu, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Though the rising cost of living has negatively affected Colorado Spring’s affordability, the city’s steady population growth due to net migration as well as its consistently strong job market help the city score the No. 6 spot this year.

#7 Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida

Metro Population: 371,453

Median Home Price: $345,000

Average Annual Salary: $47,980

From No. 14 in 2020, Naples is now No. 7 on the overall Best Places to Live ranking in the U.S. for 2021-2022. Though Naples doesn’t attract the same number of tourists as Miami or Tampa, a lot of people want to move there. In fact, Naples is the fourth-fastest growing metro area out of the 150 U.S. places examined.

#8 Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

Metro Population: 532,075

Median Home Price: $310,300

Average Annual Salary: $52,820

The most populous metro area in Maine is now No. 8 in the ranking, thanks to its quality of life, fairly steady job market, and growing reputation as a desirable place to live in. For the quality of life category, which includes college readiness among high school students, proximity to quality health care, crime, average commute time, and overall well-being, Portland ranks eighth out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the country.

#9 Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Metro Population: 803,709

Median Home Price: $227,754

Average Annual Salary: $46,040

Securing this year’s No. 9 spot, Sarasota is the second-fastest-growing city out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sarasota saw a population increase of 11.22% due to net migration from 2015 to 2019

#10 Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Metro Population: 2,445,761

Median Home Price: $515,360

Average Annual Salary: $58,240

Americans see Portland as a highly desirable place to live, with the city ranking No. 5 in that category. The city also boasts a fairly strong job market and consistent growth in population due to net migration.

#11 Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

Metro Population: 710,743

Median Home Price: $221,475

Average Annual Salary: $47,170

With high scores for population growth due to net migration and housing affordability compared with median annual household income, Boise lands at No. 11 in the overall ranking. People living in Boise need just 22.11% of the median household income to pay for rent or mortgage payments, as well as additional housing costs.

#12 Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Credit: sk / Flickr

Metro Population: 367,000

Median Home Price: $270,567

Average Annual Salary: $56,370

Ann Arbor gets the highest score out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its access to quality health care, sharing the top spot with Kalamazoo, Michigan; Reading, Pennsylvania; York, Pennsylvania; and Trenton, New Jersey. Ann Arbor also ranks third in college readiness, following only Boulder and San Jose.

#13 Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa

Metro Population: 680,439

Median Home Price: $273,134

Average Annual Salary: $52,890

With a strong job market and relatively sustained net migration, Des Moines secures the No. 13 spot in the overall ranking. Des Moines keeps a low cost of living compared to the city’s median household income, ranking fifth out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its affordability.

#14 Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Metro Population: 2,892,066

Median Home Price: $557,273

Average Annual Salary: $61,540

After holding the No. 2 spot for a long time, Denver falls to No. 14 in the overall ranking of best places to live in the U.S. for 2021-2022. Despite taking some hits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the city maintains its reputation as a desirable place to live among U.S. residents. It also has a positive growth in population due to net migration and a job market that’s stronger than the typical U.S. metro area.

#15 San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

Metro Population: 4,701,332

Median Home Price: $1,047,714

Average Annual Salary: $75,890

Fifteenth-placer San Francisco remains one of the most desirable American cities to live in because of its strong job market. In fact, even as the entire country took an employment hit during the coronavirus pandemic, San Francisco still ranks fourth in the job market ranking out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the country.

#16 Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Metro Population: 653,725

Median Home Price: $348,940

Average Annual Salary: $54,300

Madison lands at the No. 16 spot in the overall ranking of best cities for living in the U.S., largely because of its strong job market. While many other metro areas struggled with unemployment rates above 7% in 2020, Madison’s unemployment rate was comparatively low at 4.95%. Furthermore, Madison’s average annual salary is $54,300, which is higher than the national average of $53,490.

#17 Fort Collins, Colorado

The 25 best cities for living in the U.S. 1
Credit: Citycommunications / Wikimedia Commons

Metro Population: 344,786

Median Home Price: $462,481

Average Annual Salary: $53,230

Despite being one of the smallest metro areas in the U.S., Fort Collins has been seeing a lot of growth as of late. The city ranks 11th out of the 150 metro areas examined for population growth due to net migration, which increased by 8.2% from 2015 to 2019.

#18 Melbourne, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Metro Population: 585,507

Median Home Price: $217,400

Average Annual Salary: $51,180

From No. 28 in 2020, Melbourne is now at the No. 18 spot. The city’s jump in the ranking is largely due to its rapid population growth from net migration and a job market that sustained itself better than many other U.S. metro areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. For reference, from 2015 to 2019, the Melbourne metro area grew by 8.46% due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

#19 Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Metro Population: 3,871,323

Median Home Price: $675,237

Average Annual Salary: $68,460

Seattle’s impressive job market makes the city one of the most desirable U.S. places to live in. Even though the city’s job market took a hit as a result of the pandemic, it still ranks No. 6 out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the country. And with an average annual salary of $68,460, Seattle has the fifth-highest individual average salary out of all 25 cities on this list.

#20 Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

Metro Population: 2,545,560

Median Home Price: $351,700

Average Annual Salary: $52,150

Charlotte scores the No. 20 spot due to its high scores in the desirability category and fast and sustained population growth. Based on the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Charlotte metro area grew by 5.9% between 2015 and 2019 due to net migration alone.

#21 Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Credit: Chris Rand / Wikimedia Commons

Metro Population: 319,401

Median Home Price: $181,700

Average Annual Salary: $47,400

Among all the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Green Bay scores the highest for its low cost of living compared to the area’s median household income. People living in Green Bay spend only 19.83% of the median household income on rent or mortgage payments, along with taxes, utilities, and other housing costs.

#22 Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Metro Population: 1,503,574

Median Home Price: $303,789

Average Annual Salary: $48,270

Sitting at the No. 22 spot in the ranking of best cities for living in the U.S., Jacksonville is seeing rapid growth due to a lot of people moving to the area.

#23 Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Metro Population: 2,480,709

Median Home Price: $458,230

Average Annual Salary: $50,103

Salt Lake City’s affordable housing affordability, relatively low unemployment rate, and salary hike despite the national economic uncertainty during the pandemic bring the city to the No. 23 spot. It’s also worthy to note that the average monthly unemployment rate for the city for 2020 was 4.64% while the national average was 8.1%.

#24 Spartanburg, South Carolina

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Credit: -ted / Flickr

Metro Population: 307,617

Median Home Price: $156,300

Average Annual Salary: $44,920

A lot of people are moving to Spartanburg because of the low cost of living in the area. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Spartanburg metro area grew by 7.97% between 2015 and 2019 due to net migration alone. Moreover, Spartanburg residents spend only 20.63% of the median household income on housing costs.

#25 Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska
Credit: Shannon Ramos / Wikimedia Commons

Metro Population: 931,779

Median Home Price: $303,980

Average Annual Salary: $50,550

Thanks to its low cost of living and job market that remained steady compared to other parts of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, Omaha lands at No. 25 for the 2021-2022 ranking of the best places to live in the U.S. Residents of Omaha also spend just 20.42% of the area’s median household income on housing expenses.

Source: U.S. News