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We all want a better life, and finding the perfect place to relocate seems quite natural. However, life is too short, and we can not try all the options, riding around the country all the time. So how can we find that paradise? Follow the official ratings first.
So, U.S. News and other sources publish an annual report on the best places to live in the United States. The same metro areas can be present in the rating for several years, slightly changing their positions. New stars may also appear on the list; everything depends on the social and economic growth in a particular metro. So, we’ll tell you about the 25 best places to live in the USA in 2023. Prepare your notes if you plan to go after your dream!
Index Categories for Choosing a Place of Residence
U.S. News experts rated the most suitable places to stay based on five index categories. We have given a list of these categories with an indication of their share of importance for the final position below:
- Job Market Index (20%). It estimates the average salary and the unemployment rate in certain metros.
- Housing Affordability (Value) Index (25%). The category displays the median annual cost of housing and a household’s blended yearly median income.
- Quality of Life Index (32,5%). It shows assessment and statistics on key aspects of a prosperous life, including quality and availability of health care and education, well-being index, commuter index, and crime rates. Unsurprisingly, it accounts for the lion’s share of the assessment.
- Desirability Index (17,5%). It presents average statistics on the expressed wishes of people about living in this or that metro area.
- Net Migration (5%). This index explains the extent of moving or leaving the area.
In 2022-2023, U.S. News added the Air Quality Index to this list for the first time. Previously, it joined the Quality of Life Index set of indicators. Still, experts decided on a separate assessment since environmental problems are becoming more urgent in American metro areas.
Best Places to Live in the US Rating 2022-2023
Annually, U.S. News examines data on 150 of the most populous metro areas. Information about the job and housing market comes from summary statistics, while the Desirability Index requires a survey of residents of a particular metro. The rating for 2023 is based on the latest official data and responses from over 3,000 residents of the country. Well, let’s get down to the main course.
25. Nashville, Tennessee
- Metro Population: 1,904,186
- Median Home Price: $366,113
- Average Annual Salary: $52,170
The city has risen by 5 points compared to last year’s ranking. Desirability contributed to this bounce, as it ended up in the 9th slot. Perhaps all the numerous musical and sporting events, a great coffee scene, and beautiful nature gave an impetus. However, experts also cite encouraging data on the job market and housing affordability, although the latter shows substantial growth over the past two years.
24. Jacksonville, Florida
- Metro Population: 1,533,796
- Median Home Price: $303,789
- Average Annual Salary: $49,940
Jacksonville (or Jax, as the locals call it) is again on the list of the most desirable cities to live in. At least, SurveyMonkey‘s respondents led him to 13th place out of 150 possible. Migration data also show a population growth of almost 7% over the past six years. Do you love beaches and amazing coastlines, adore jazz and exciting art walks, and still want to have a stable job to pay for all this? Jax gives you a welcome!
23. Salt Lake City, Utah
- Metro Population: 2,522,032
- Median Home Price: $458,175
- Average Annual Salary: $52,094
The housing affordability relative to the average household income, meager crime rate, and developed and rational infrastructure, together with a sense of well-being, makes the state capital a tempting option for relocating. Wonderful nature and impressive architecture are also sound reasons, indeed.
22. Portland, Oregon
- Metro Population: 2 472 774
- Median Home Price: $515,360
- Average Annual Salary: $61,860
Portland has made an impressive drop from the 10th point of the ranking to 22nd in 2022-2023. However, residents of the United States still see it as an attractive place to live. The Desirability Index puts it in the 7th position out of 150. A considerable number of green spaces, a laid-back and neighborhood vibe, and the diversity of job opportunities are just some arguments in favor of moving to Portland. However, will high respect for the environment or no sales tax possibly motivate you better?
21. Albany, New York
- Metro Population: 880,766
- Median Home Price: $ 279 971
- Average Annual Salary: $58,880
The dense population of the New York metro area is nothing new to anyone, but Albany finds something to attract new residents. Affordable housing and expenses, along with a lower crime rate and a relatively short average commute (23.3 minutes), may encourage you to decide in its favor – as well as a high air quality index. Walkable downtowns, which the city abounds with, will involve fans of a healthy lifestyle, and a stunning variety of musical, literary, and artistic events will interest art lovers.
20. Melbourne, Florida
- Metro Population: 594,001
- Median Home Price: $217,400
- Average Annual Salary: $51,740
The impressive net migration shows Melbourne’s high living appeal; its population increased by 8.4% between 2016 and 2022. The city will be a priority choice for those who seek to find opportunities for a vital education for their kids, as college readiness among high school students is outstanding here. There are other reasons in favor of changing around, such as incredible nature, a lot of thrills and events, the affordable cost of living, and…weather, weather, and weather again! Think of Melbourne if you want your summer to last forever.
19. Washington, D.C.
- Metro Population: 6,250,309
- Median Home Price: $521,277
- Average Annual Salary: $77,210
Good reasons to move closer to the US capital are a high-ranking job market and corresponding average annual income, school readiness for college among high school students, and, as a result, an overall sense of well-being among the residents. Include a unique historical and cultural vibe, ample job opportunities, a plethora of events, and free activities along with free museums and bike friendliness – and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!
18. Boston, Massachusetts
- Metro Population: 4,854,808
- Median Home Price: $632,943
- Average Annual Salary: $73,850
The Quality of Life index is high for Boston, thanks to the level of education, available and high-quality medical care, short commute, excellent Air Quality Index, and perpetually decreasing crime rate. All this puts Boston in the seventh position in the ranking. However, the cost of living and housing in this metro area is one of the most expensive, without any doubt. Perhaps a great central location, cultural opportunities, and phenomenal colleges and universities will still encourage you to move, especially if you are ready for expenses.
17. Madison, Wisconsin
- Metro Population: 660,212
- Median Home Price: $348,940
- Average Annual Salary: $57,680
High quality of life scores allowed Madison to take the №17 ranking spot in 2023. According to the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index, the sense of well-being for the residents is at the presentable level, which makes the city rank 17th on its list. Its record as one of the best food cities in the US, along with cycling opportunities and green space, is also encouraging.
16. Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Metro Population: 1,069,696
- Median Home Price: $296,730
- Average Annual Salary: $49,700
The city is right in this ranking slot as one of the most affordable for life. Housing costs take just 20.71% of the average household income, and property taxes, utilities, rent, and mortgage payments are already on the list. Other reasons to relocate are high school readiness, strong school readiness, short commute due to minimal traffic, safe and walkable downtown areas, and a just-an-hour drive to Lake Michigan.
15. Boise, Idaho
- Metro Population: 730,483
- Median Home Price: $221,475
- Average Annual Salary: $49,010
Net Migration shows constant growth when it comes to the capital of Idaho. This trend is natural, given the quality of life and impressive housing affordability; residents spend just 23.15% of their median income to cover all the payments. Relocating to Boise promises walking in a lively downtown area, impressive coffee scenes, friendly and talkative residents, and an outdoorsy vibe.
14. Des Moines, Iowa
- Metro Population: 690,585
- Median Home Price: $273,134
- Average Annual Salary: $55,660
The appeal of this metro area lies in the low cost of living, although other indicators are no less impressive. The short average commute of 20.7 minutes, plethora of job opportunities, fair average salary, and cozy architecture make many people think about changing places and give Des Moines a shot.
13. Austin, Texas
- Metro Population: 2,173,804
- Median Home Price: $377,693
- Average Annual Salary: $57,830
An enjoyable climate, friendly and welcoming atmosphere, the lack of state income taxes, and a booming job market have provided Austin with long-term net migration growth and a stable position in the top 5 of the rating over the past six years. However, it dropped in the best places to live ranking for 2022-2023 and left even the top 10. The reason is the rising cost of living, which has made the city less affordable. However, many still dream of moving to Live Music Capital, so it still has something to offer.
12. Naples, Florida
- Metro Population: 379,345
- Median Home Price: $345,000
- Average Annual Salary: $50,040
This year was far from the best for Naples, as it dropped from 7th position to 12th in the U.S. News ranking. Experts associate this shakeup with a change of priorities. Today, people emphasize quality of life and affordability more than the job market since remote work options are becoming more popular. Indeed, the cost of housing on this southern tip of the Gulf Coast has grown at an alarming rate. However, regarding the quality of life, Naples is still none to second regarding climate and air quality. No individual income, inheritance, estate tax, environmental gems, ample exercise, and good health opportunities are just a part of Naples’ benefits.
11. Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Metro Population: 368,385
- Median Home Price: $270,567
- Average Annual Salary: $59,200
Most people associate Ann Arbor with the University of Michigan, but that’s not all that the metro area offers its residents. The quality of life, including healthcare, education, air quality, and well-being, allowed the city to take a prominent position in the ranking. Fifth slots on school readiness and quality of medical care are also the talking points. The charming atmosphere of warmth and peace, stunning architecture, culturally diverse community, and beautiful green spaces will also inspire you to relocate if that’s what you’re looking for.
10. San Francisco, California
- Metro Population: 4,709,220
- Median Home Price: $1,047,714
- Average Annual Salary: $81,840
The third-best job market has become one of the key reasons for San Francisco’s high ranking. The average annual salary of $81,840 seems encouraging as well. The desirability index puts the city in 5th place out of 150 metro areas, which is not surprising. The town, known as the abode of culture and one of the most beautiful cities in the USA, cannot but attract new residents.
9. Sarasota, Florida
- Metro Population: 821,613
- Median Home Price: $387,630
- Average Annual Salary: $48,180
Sarasota replaced Naples to lead Florida in the ranking with its 9th place. Net migration shows an impressive population growth rate of over 12 percent within the past six years. High-quality health care, plenty of housing and cultural opportunities, no income tax, a lot of sunshine, outdoor life, and a low crime rate provide almost all you need to move here alone or with your family.
8. Portland, Maine
- Metro Population: 536,314
- Median Home Price: $310,300
- Average Annual Salary: $55,790
Portland has retained its 8th position in the ranking, which it took last year. Maine’s most populous metro area is becoming more attractive to live in, which is quite fair; the quality of life, school readiness, short commute, high-quality medical care, and general well-being encourage many to dream of relocating here. The crime rate also contributes to the benefits of the metro area, as the city holds the 4th place in terms of low rates of severe crimes.
7. Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Metro Population: 526,101
- Median Home Price: $203,150
- Average Annual Salary: $50,470
Fayetteville belongs to a rapidly developing metro area. However, it still retains housing affordability and a steady job market. Residents of the city spend just 20,56% of their average income on housing costs, which is also quite attractive for those who are going to relocate.
6. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
- Metro Population: 1,999,253
- Median Home Price: $369,707
- Average Annual Salary: $59,174
Affordability and a strong job market relying on technology, research, education, and healthcare have turned this metro area into a good place for relocation. The Desirability Rating for Raleigh and Durham is still low, but the constant population growth suggests that there are some updating lags. Parklands, a soothing vibe, no huge flow of tourists, and an impressive gastronomic scene are among other reasons to look for a place to live here.
5. San Jose, California
- Metro Population: 1,985,926
- Median Home Price: $1,302,118
- Average Annual Salary: $93,450
The city, which many people know as the capital of Silicon Valley, has made a breakthrough and soared to the 5th position in the ranking from last year’s 36th. The cost of living is relatively high here, but the appropriate level of income and a strong job market allow the residents to cover expenses and maintain overall well-being.
4. Boulder, Colorado
- Metro Population: 324,682
- Median Home Price: $528,833
- Average Annual Salary: $70,450
Boulder stayed at the top for the previous two years but lost ground in the latest ranking. The increased growth in housing and living prices caused the fall, as today, these indicators have become a priority. However, the metro area is still appealing with its stable labor market, high quality of life, strong school education, and excellent foothill climate.
3. Green Bay, Wisconsin
- Metro Population: 320,827
- Median Home Price: $181,700
- Average Annual Salary: $50,020
The low cost of living and spending just 20,03% of the average income on all household expenses will be inspiring moments for moving. Various outdoor activities, charming nature, fresh and clean air, and farmers’ markets can also become other inspiring options.
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Metro Population: 735,480
- Median Home Price: $455,371
- Average Annual Salary: $55,540
An encouraging job market and various housing options are firm but not the only arguments for living in Colorado Springs. The residents enjoy the sense of community, high quality of life, opportunities for a healthy lifestyle and fitness, friendliness to pets, and many landmarks. The high cost of living remains the only fly in the ointment, as residents spend almost 26% of their average income on housing costs.
1. Huntsville, Alabama
- Metro Population: 464,607
- Median Home Price: $192,667
- Average Annual Salary: $58,730
A winning combo of the low cost of living, booming job market, and growing average annual salary allowed Huntsville to take the crown this year. Many companies focused on engineering, science, and technology are located here, contributing to the average salary growth. The rich history, culture, and active life make the ascent of the metro area fair and appropriate.
We have told you about the official ranking of the best places to live in the USA. However, you should not focus on matter-of-fact indicators only when you are planning to move. The quality and cost of living are still vital, but all of us are looking for something else. Someone needs strong schools for children, someone is searching for picturesque views and friendly neighbors, and someone prefers active nightlife and cultural events. Try to find out as much information about the areas that interest you. That will help you avoid disappointment when changing your place.