Best cities to live in the U.S., according U.S. News & World Report

May 21, 2024
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A troubling trend in the cost of buying a home


A troubling trend in the cost of buying a home

02:15

Why was Naples, Florida, just ranked the best place to live in the U.S.? It has much to do with the beachfront city’s job prospects and overall quality of life for residents, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Naples, a resort city, scored especially high for the value residents get for their money and for the ample job opportunities, which were both weighted more heavily in the publication’s ranking this year compared with previous editions. 

“This year’s survey found people are concerned about the economy and want more financial stability, so the value and job market categories were the factors that were most important to people. That’s something that really helped Naples,” Erika Giovanetti, U.S. News and World Report’s loans expert, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Naples — with an ultra-low unemployment rate of just 2.9% as of April, well under the overall U.S. rate of 3.9% — also offers relatively high salaries and boasts one of the strongest job markets in the country. Top local industries in terms of job prospects include tourism and health care. 

“There is a big retiree population, so there is a lot of well-paid work for health care employees willing to take care of an aging population in that part of the country,” Giovanetti said. 

Bayfront
A marina in Naples, Florida.

Getty Images


U.S. News’ analysis ranks 150 larger U.S. cities based on criteria including the health of the local job market, affordability of housing, value, quality of life and overall desirability. The rankings are designed to help Americans make informed decisions about where to reside based on their priorities, according to the media outlet. 

To assess those priorities, U.S. News asked thousands of Americans what matters most to them when choosing place to live. It created four indexes based on respondents’ answers, weighted as follows: Quality of Life (32%), Value (27%), Job Market (22%), Desirability (19%). The latter category takes into account factors such as weather, number of bars and restaurants per capita, and net migration.  

This year’s findings reflected rising consumer concerns about career opportunities and a city’s general affordability. Quality of life remains Americans’ top priority, and was therefore most heavily weighted to determine the rankings. 

“While inflation has come down in recent months, Americans are still feeling the impact on their wallets, so finding a place that is affordable and where they feel like they have job stability is increasingly important,” Giovanetti said. “We have also seen cooling off in the labor market over the past several years, 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 on this year’s ranking, 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 in North Carolina ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, with the three cities scoring well for their buoyant job market and quality of life.

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

Woman running on trail in Boise, Idaho
A woman runs on a trail 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 U.S. News’ list, while Los Angeles came in at No. 130.

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

“Especially for people looking to buy, it’s not reasonable for them to think of finding a place to buy in New York or L.A., even though the higher salaries help to cut into that. It’s not enough to offset the value,” she added

U.S. News’ top 10 best cities to live in the U.S. are below. Click here for the full 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, Alabama
  8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Boulder, Colorado

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