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Best Cities to Live in the US, According to US News & World Report

A disturbing trend in the costs of buying a home

A disturbing trend in the costs of buying a home


Why was Naples, Florida, just ranked as the best place to live in the US? According to U.S. News & World Report, it has a lot to do with the beachside city’s employment prospects and residents’ overall quality of life.

Naples, a resort town, scored particularly highly for the value residents receive for their money and for its ample employment opportunities, both of which were weighted more heavily in the publication’s rankings this year compared to previous editions.

“This year’s survey showed that people are concerned about the economy and want more financial stability, so the value and labor market categories were the factors that mattered most to people. That’s something that really helped Naples,” says Erika Giovanetti, from US News and World Report. loan expert, CBS told MoneyWatch.

Naples – with an ultra-low unemployment rate of just 2.9% in April, well below 2.9% general US rate of 3.9% – also offers relatively high salaries and has one of the strongest labor markets in the country. Key local industries in terms of employment prospects include tourism and healthcare.

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“There’s a large retired population, so there’s a lot of well-paying work for health care workers who are willing to care for the aging population in that part of the country,” Giovanetti said.

A marina in Naples, Florida.

Getty Images

The US News analysis ranks 150 larger U.S. cities based on criteria such as the health of the local labor market, housing affordability, value, quality of life and overall desirability. According to media reports, the rankings are intended to help Americans make informed decisions about where to live based on their priorities.

To assess these priorities, U.S. News asked thousands of Americans what matters most to them when choosing where to live. Four indexes were created based on respondents’ answers, weighted as follows: quality of life (32%), value (27%), labor market (22%), desirability (19%). The latter category takes into account factors such as weather, the number of bars and restaurants per capita and net migration.

This year’s findings reflected growing consumer concerns about career opportunities and the overall affordability of a city. Quality of life remains the top priority for Americans and therefore carries the most weight in determining the rankings.

“While inflation has fallen in recent months, Americans are still feeling the impact on their wallets, so finding a place that is affordable and where they feel they have stable jobs is becoming increasingly important,” Giovanetti said. “We’ve also seen a cooling in the labor market in recent years, and more and more people feel like they have less power with employers, so they want to live in places where they won’t be unemployed.”

Boise, Idaho landed at No. 2 in this year’s rankings, earning high marks for its value, while scoring less well in the desirability category, while Colorado Springs, Colorado, ranked third.

Greenville, South Carolina, ranked No. 4, while Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, with the three cities ranking highly for their thriving job markets and quality of life.

All of the cities in U.S. News’ top five “had a good balance of everything” and were especially strong in terms of value, housing affordability and labor market, Giovanetti said. “We’re really looking for cities that shine in those categories.”

Woman hiking in Boise, Idaho
A woman runs along a path with downtown Boise, Idaho, visible in the background.

Lee Cohen/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, major cities like New York City and Los Angeles, California, faltered in the value category given their high costs of living. New York ranked No. 124 on US News’ list, while Los Angeles came in at No. 130.

“It can be very difficult for large cities to rank well, and a lot of that has to do with the value index, especially the outsized impact that value has on this year’s rankings,” Giovanetti told CBS MoneyWatch.

“Especially for people who want to buy, it’s not reasonable to think about finding a place to buy in New York or LA, even if the higher salaries help cut back on that. It is not enough to offset the value,” she added.

Below are US News’ top 10 best cities to live in the US. Click here for the complete list.

  1. Naples, Florida
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  4. Greenville, South Carolina
  5. Charlotte, North Carolina
  6. Raleigh, North Carolina
  7. Huntsville, AL
  8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Boulder, Colo

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