U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today unveiled the 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire in the United States. The new lists evaluate the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and desirability.
Boulder, CO debuted on the Best Places to Live list ranking at No. 1, while Denver, CO held at No. 2, and Austin, TX fell from the top spot to No. 3. On Best Places to Retire, Florida metro areas took a majority (13) of the top 25 rankings and swept the top three: Sarasota moved up a spot to No. 1, followed by Fort Myers at No. 2, and Port St. Lucie landed at No. 3.
Metro areas that ranked in the top 25 of both 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire include Charlotte, NC; Sarasota, FL; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; and Nashville, TN. Ann Arbor, MI and Naples, FL, which debuted in the rankings this year, also placed in the top 25 for places to live and retire.
“After a prolonged period of staying at home, people are taking a critical look at where they live, and many are looking to find a place they can feel happier, afford more or pursue new opportunities,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. “The Best Places rankings can help people examine the details they consider important in a larger community as they seek a house with a bigger yard or a spot that makes it easier for the whole family to quarantine safely together.”
This year, U.S. News increased the number of metropolitan areas evaluated for both sets of rankings from 125 to 150, to provide a broader and more accurate reflection of where Americans can live and retire.
BEST PLACES TO LIVE
A common feature among many of the top 25 Best Places to Live is the prominence of engineering and technology as a choice career field for many. Austin, TX (No. 3), San Francisco, CA (No. 10) and Huntsville, AL (No. 15) are popular destinations for young and established professionals alike for offering job markets heavy in technology, aerospace and engineering. Metro areas with colleges well-known for their engineering programs also made the list, such as Colorado Springs, CO (No. 4), Ann Arbor, MI (debuting at No. 12) and Boulder, CO. Boulder debuted in the rankings this year and catapulted to No. 1 due to its strong Desirability, Quality of Life and Job Market scores.
“At the top of this year’s Best Places to Live rankings, we see a combination of metro areas that can appeal to people looking for city living or more of a small-town atmosphere, but all offer a balance between cost and quality of living,” Thorsby said.
The pandemic and civil unrest may have also had an impact on how people perceive some areas. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN dropped from No. 6 in 2019 to No. 22, and New York City fell 31 spots to No. 121 – primarily due to significant drops in Desirability scores for both metro areas.
The 2020-2021 Best Places to Live were determined based on a methodology that factored in job market, housing affordability, 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, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals.
2020-2021 U.S. News Best Places to Live – Top 10
*See the full rankings here.
1. Boulder, CO
2. Denver, CO
3. Austin, TX
4. Colorado Springs, CO
5. Fort Collins, CO
6. Charlotte, NC
7. Des Moines, IA
8. Fayetteville, AR
9. Portland, OR
10. San Francisco, CA