For the last nine years, Livability editors and data scientists have combined our great love of cities and data to create our annual ranking of the top 100 best places to live in America.
Every year, the list changes: we conduct exclusive studies and surveys, adjust our algorithm and add new variables and data points. But one thing remains constant: We always start with the data.
This year, we examined more than 2,300 cities based on more than 50 data points that are grouped into eight categories, measuring a city’s economic stability, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital and healthcare. This is how we calculate each city’s LivScore.
Next, we craft the rankings. This year, we started with the age-old question: Why should someone want to live here?
Yes, these are all statistically great places to live, but would you actually want to live here? What are the ways in which each of these cities is creating an environment that is accommodating for remote workers? Where can you spend a Saturday afternoon or meet your friends for happy hour after a long day? How is this city different from other places?
Since March 2020, more than 42% of the U.S. population has either moved or considered moving. As home prices hit historic highs and inflation continues to rise, it is more important than ever that we create homes in places that are both affordable and functional for a diverse and growing population. Affordability is a core value for Livability, so we look for places that are growing wages and home values while maintaining an affordable cost of living.
This year, we focused on midsize cities (generally defined as 500,000 population or smaller) that are attracting big waves of young people. We also added more weight to some of our measures of diversity and inclusion to reflect what millennials are looking for in the cities they choose to call home. If you want to learn more about how this list came together, please check out our methodology page and ranking criteria.
Also on MarketWatch: The best and most affordable places to live in Florida
Each of these cities has something special to offer its residents. If you’re a young person looking for a fresh start, sick of living paycheck to paycheck due to insane rent prices and want to find a community that will welcome you with open arms, this list is for you.
These 100 cities are welcoming, affordable and offer the space and opportunity to grow, both professionally and personally.
The only thing missing? You.
1. Madison, Wis.
LivScore: 725 Population: 74,032
The annual Festival of the Arts in Frederick, Md.
Less than a one-hour drive from Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Frederick, Md., the growing city of almost 75,000, is both steeped in history yet enviously trendy. Here, you’ll find the final resting place of Francis Scott Key, author of the national anthem, hundreds of years’ worth of Black history, and much more. Plus, the area is awash with public art and galleries, delicious cuisine and must-visit breweries, distilleries and wineries. And when it comes to job opportunities, Frederick delivers, making it one of the best places to live in the U.S.
Everyone can find their niche here, as the city is home to solid life sciences, advanced manufacturing, technology, tourism and film sectors. And when it comes to outdoor activities, options abound (think camping, hiking, water recreation and more).
18. McKinney, Texas