The Best Places to Live in the U.S.

In the wake of coronavirus, where are the best places to live in the US?

Molly Henderson

Molly has been writing about the moving industry for more than 10 years and knows exactly what makes a mover great.

 ·  8 min

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread across the world in 2020, many people suddenly found themselves questioning whether the place they have always considered home is indeed the best place to live. Some have discovered how far they actually live from the rest of their family. Others learned their homes don’t work very well as home offices, while some realized that they don’t need to live in the inner-city after all.

In the wake of the insights that you may have gained, stuck at home during the various lockdowns that happened all over the world, you may have been left wondering where the best places to live in the U.S. are. We took some time to look at the places named by those providing finance to homebuyers, quality of living experts, consumer reviews, and real estate firms as the best places to live in the U.S.

Even though we provide this as a list of the best places to live in the U.S., it’s important to note that this is not a definitive list. It would almost be impossible to say that a particular place would be best for everyone because different people’s needs differ. We present the list to highlight some of the factors you may want to reflect on if you’re considering moving.

What Makes a Place Ideal to Live in?

It is safe to say that an ideal place to live in the U.S., or anywhere for that matter, would be a place that answers the fundamental concerns of the individual intending to move. These needs mostly revolve around the cost of living, crime rates, education quality, employment opportunities, amenities for seniors, and proximity to services, among others.

Writing for the American news network, Bloomberg.com, Richard Florida notes some factors influencing the way residents rate a place they prefer to live in. According to Florida, “Those include feeling safe at night, and having access to good jobs, high-quality parks and recreation, and arts, culture, and nightlife.” He agrees that “it’s not any one single factor, but the interplay of several that shape how residents rate the places where they live.”

The CenterForCities.org, an organization that provides insights that help cities grow their economies, notes the importance of age when determining whether a place is ideal to live in or not. The organization refers to a survey that showed that the cost of housing, being close to family and friends, and the size and kind of housing available were the three leading factors influencing the choice of places where residents live. 

What is the Number 1 Place to Live in the U.S.?

To determine the best place to live in the U.S., we spent some time looking at influential articles that list different places. How do we determine if an article is influential? We look at the number of inbound links the article gets from other websites. We believe that the more links an article gets, the more credible it’s likely to be. From these articles, we identified the area that keeps coming up as the best in the country, and Denver, Colorado, was the winner.

In an article published by RealEstate.USNews.com, local expert Katie Hearsum says that Denver “has come a long way since its Wild West days.” She reports that “its residents have evolved from gun-slinging gamblers into an easygoing crowd of ambitious, progressive-minded fitness fanatics and nature lovers who are eager to push the envelope on everything from civil rights to drug laws.”

What Attracts People to Denver?

We looked at the reasons given by people who live in Denver as they answer questions on Quora.com. For Daniel Dvorkin, it’s because “the air feels like air should, which is to say it doesn’t feel like anything at all. Whenever I go anywhere that’s lower altitude (which is most places, of course), I feel like I’m swimming through soup.”

Even though some like Mark Nicholson complain about the influx of people moving into Denver, asking people to “come to visit but do us that have been here a while a favor and go back home after a week or two,” there are others who enjoy the growth. For instance, Matthew Van Deventer says after leaving Denver to live in New York for three years, he returned. “I like seeing Denver become more dense, more diverse, and more of a powerhouse,” says Van Deventer.     

Several other reasons are given by those who believe that Denver is the place to live:

  • The great weather, with around 300 days of sunlight a year.
  • The mountain views and the fact that you could move from a modern city and interact with nature within an hour’s drive, provides a great attraction.
  • Sport lovers are spoilt for choice; some sporting activities take place right across the year.
  • A thriving economy that takes many closer to the American dream.
  • A great art scene.

What U.S. City has the Best Year-Round Weather? 

Peter Lane Taylor, a contributor at Forbes.com, identifies why the weather is often a considerable element when people determine where to settle. He says that “your body feels naturally unstressed without the need to constantly thermo-regulate itself in heating and air-conditioning.” Taylor adds that people who live in places with mild temperatures spend more time outside exercising and tend to look happier.   

In terms of great all-year-round weather, Santa Barbara is the city that tops our list. Santa Barbara is located along the California coast, northwest of Los Angeles. The area offers near-perfect weather all year long, with about 286 clear or partly cloudy days in a year.

Where are the Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S.?

To live in any place, you have to afford what the property owners in that area are asking. This is why affordability is one of the most important factors influencing where people decide to settle. The real estate specialists at USNews.com crunched the numbers and listed the following five places as the cheapest places to live in the U.S.  

Des Moines, Iowa

Among housing experts and estate agents, Des Moines is generally known for its combination of relatively abundant job opportunities with a balance of cheap housing and standard cost of living. Add this to comparatively high salaries, a booming arts scene, and ease of commuting, and you understand why the city makes this list.

Boise, Idaho

Writing about Boise in an article published by the business news website, BusinessInsider.com, Katie Warren provides some reasons why Millennials are flocking to that town. According to Warren, “Boise was named the best place for Millennials to live in the U.S. by Livability.com and the best place in the country to buy a home by WalletHub.com [a personal finance website], and people are practically tripping over themselves to move there.”

Omaha, Nebraska

Jeffrey Robb writes for the Omaha-World Herald and says that “the cost of living in the Omaha metro area historically rated as a bargain nationally — a spending power so strong it could keep more money in your pocket or buy you more at the store” makes this city one of the most affordable. However, Robb believes that things are starting to shift in the direction of being expensive.   

Huntsville, Alabama

According to the CBS-affiliated virtual channel, News19, the reason Huntsville is placed in the list of one of the cheapest places to live in the U.S. is that it “offers an above-average annual salary and lower living costs.”

Fort Wayne, Indiana

In an article produced for RealEstate.com, Tim Zink says that “with its low cost of living and quiet neighborhoods, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is an excellent place to buy a house, start a career, launch a business, and raise children.” Zink adds that people are attracted to this town that many call the “heart of the Midwest” because even though this is a relatively small metropolis, its residents enjoy the amenities often found in some of the U.S.’s largest metropolitan areas. 

Where are the Best Places to Retire in the U.S.? 

As people start thinking about retirement, they often focus on some common factors when looking for the best place to live. These are attraction, pleasure, affordable housing, quality of health care, and retiree taxes. Below, we present some of the five best places to retire in the U.S.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The expansive farmhouses and the Amish people’s calm and peaceful lifestyles make Lancaster one of the best places to retire in the U.S. This is a view acknowledged by Cornwall Manor, a provider of quality housing for seniors. The organization notes that “Lancaster is a great place to retire because of the housing affordability, low taxes, and outstanding health care, but there’s so much more to it than that.” Adding, “Lancaster is a small, peaceful town that offers no shortage of things to do, places to go and food to enjoy.”

Naples, Florida

In a 2019 article, the Naples Daily News reports that “after recently ranking No.1 on a list of best cities for early retirement in the United States, Naples has once again clinched the title of the best place to retire in Florida — and the country.” This view is also acknowledged by reviewers on Tripadvisor. They frequently give the site a rating of five regarding its suitability as a place to retire.   

Port St. Lucie, Florida

The affordable housing and quality health care, along with being the home of the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance, and the New York Mets’ spring training location, Port St. Lucie is a haven for retirees in the U.S.

Fort Myers, Florida

One of the reasons Fort Myers is a great place to retire is its proximity to the major centers of Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Writing for the travel and leisure website, Travelandlesisure.com, Patricia Doherty advises, “If spending your retirement in a warm and sunny locale sounds good to you—and if you’re planning ahead for those days of leisure—you’ll be interested to know that a city in the Sunshine State was just named the best place to retire in America.” This city is none other than Fort Myers.

Sarasota, Florida

By now, it should be starting to be clear that Florida doesn’t run a shortage of places to retire. Reacting to the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of Sarasota as the best place to retire in the world, the Sarasota Magazine says that the city received “accolades for its year-round warm-weather, award-winning beaches, outdoor activities, arts, and cultural offerings and variety of restaurants.”

Where are the Safest Places to Live in the U.S.?

Most people want to live in a place where they feel safe. This is why many people consider living in neighborhoods that work well to create a close-knit family where neighbors look out for each other. We have put together a list of the three safest places to live in the U.S.

Burlington, Vermont

Asked by a user of Tripadvisor about how safe Burlington is, a reviewer says, “Burlington, in general, is very safe relative to almost anywhere else in the country. There is *very little* violent crime that is not domestic-related. I also rarely ever hear about anything like a random mugging or pickpocketing.”

Another reviewer agrees that the Burlington is “in general, a very safe small city.” This is the case even though there are occasional reports of petty crimes, which rarely happen if people “exercise good sense,” says the same reviewer.

Glen Cove, New York

The provider of security services, ADTSecurity.com, names Glen Cove as the safest place in America. The company gives the place a safety score of 96/100. With a population of around 27,000, the city records around 0.18 crimes for every 1,000 residents. The nationwide rate was 3.67 per 1,000 in 2019.        

Raleigh, North Carolina

The consumer financial news website, Bankrate.com, gives Raleigh a score of 9/10 when it comes to safety and security. This is a view also acknowledged by those who live in the city. In answering a question about how safe the city is on Quora.com, a resident says, “Raleigh has a strong police force and manages to keep things nominally safe.”

Molly Henderson

Molly has been writing about the moving industry for more than 10 years and knows exactly what makes a mover great.

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