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America’s best places to live in 2022

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Image by zimmytws/Getty Images/Illustration by Tiffany Herring/Bankrate

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While there has been some movement to the suburbs in the pandemic, major cities remain attractive places to live and work. If you’re reevaluating where you call home or considering relocating this year, here are Bankrate’s picks for the best places to live in 2022.

America's best places to live in 2022
Tiffany Herring/Bankrate

Best places to live in 2022

Methodology

To identify the best places to live, Bankrate examined the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. through the lens of an essential question: What makes a place livable and lovable? Applying a 10-point scale, we considered several factors, including:

  • What it costs – This past year, the definition of “affordable” evolved as home prices continued to hit records. We compared each city’s cost of living data from the Economic Policy Institute with per capita personal income from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to get an idea of how much of your take-home pay you can actually take home. We also looked at year-over-year home price data from real estate brokerage Redfin to understand where prices are surging faster than others, and where you might be able to buy a home for a bit less.
  • How it feels – To get a sense of the quality of life in these cities, we considered overall well-being based on the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index; employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; culture, outdoor opportunities and weather based on information from each city’s convention and visitors bureau and historical data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and safety, including crime rates based on FBI data (or local reporting for cities not captured in government data).
  • Who’s moving there – We also evaluated the net migration of each city over the past year. Each city on this list experienced a positive net migration, which means that more people moved in than moved out.

Additionally, where data is available, we have included a diversity score this year. The figures, based on the National Equity Atlas diversity index, are adjusted for our 10-point scale. The higher the score, the more you can expect to have the opportunity to live alongside, work with and learn from people from different cultural backgrounds and races.

1. Raleigh, North Carolina

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 9/10
Wellness: 7/10

The top spot on our list goes to Raleigh, North Carolina. As one of the anchors of The Research Triangle, the city continues to attract young employees and major companies to plant roots in The Tar Heel State. Last year, Apple announced plans for a new East Coast campus in the area, which will create at least 3,000 new jobs — and more reasons for more people to want to move here. Outside of the office and the research laboratory, Raleigh is quickly climbing the cultural ranks as a place to eat, drink and enjoy the outdoors, with a mild climate that gives residents ample time to disconnect. Plus, Raleigh offers what so many cities struggle to deliver: low crime rates.

2. Charleston, South Carolina

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: N/A
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 8/10

If you’re enjoying the freedom to work from home, why not enjoy the charm of Charleston? According to a 2021 LinkedIn survey, the city is quickly becoming a remote work hotspot. You might need some discipline to stay productive, however, as the city boasts lots of reasons to put off that next project: rooftop bars, decadent Lowcountry cuisine and nearby beaches all within a short drive from historic downtown. If you don’t want to work from home, Charleston still has you covered with opportunities in healthcare, manufacturing (Boeing, Volvo and Mercedes all have large operations here) and tourism.

3. Austin, Texas

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: 6/10
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 9/10

Will Austin ever slip from our best places to live? With affordability becoming more of an issue, potentially — but for now, the capital of The Lone Star State continues to attract major employers to set up shop or expand their footprints here, and new residents along with them. Throughout the pandemic, more than 150 companies announced plans to relocate operations to Austin or add more jobs to existing offices. Whether you’re moving here to work for Apple, Dell, Tesla or another major tech name, you’ll have plenty of reasons to play, too: From early morning bike rides (Bicycling magazine named the city one of the top 20 most bike-friendly in the country) to late-night jam sessions on Sixth Street, Austin offers a mile-long list of reasons to forget about work.

4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 8/10
Job market: 10/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 5/10

OKC is so much more than OK. With an unemployment rate below 2 percent (as of November 2021) and major employers like Integris Health, Hobby Lobby, Boeing and Paycom, Oklahoma City has been attracting droves of new residents. That pace isn’t slowing down, either: By 2040, the metro area is on track to exceed two million residents. The city gets around 235 sunny days a year, and you can enjoy that weather on land via 10 interconnected trails or on water with 30 nearby lakes and kayaking and whitewater rafting opportunities. All that fun doesn’t come at a big cost, either: The median price of a home in Oklahoma City was $235,000 as of November 2021, according to data from Redfin.

5. Tampa, Florida

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: 6/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 7/10

What Florida doesn’t have — a state income tax — is one of the many upsides of a move to The Sunshine State. Young job seekers are also flocking to the state, specifically to Tampa, for what the area does have: an affordable cost of living; nearly 80 colleges, universities and technical schools in the Tampa Bay area; and high-profile companies like Raymond James, Citigroup and USAA. You might also opt for the chance to work from home if you’re thinking about this location. The area is just behind Charleston on LinkedIn’s ranking of remote-friendly big cities. When you aren’t working, you’ll find a friendly and diverse city, with employees of more than 130 nationalities and a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which ranks cities on how welcoming they are to the LGBTQ+ community.

6. Boise, Idaho

Affordability: 5/10
Diversity: N/A
Job market: 10/10
Safety: 8/10
Wellness: 7/10

Boise welcomed lots of new residents throughout the pandemic, but the city didn’t just start becoming desirable in the last couple of years. It’s always offered a high quality of life, with more than 200 sunny days each year and the backdrop of the scenic Boise Mountains. Micron, HP and Albertsons are a few of the major employers in the area, and Boise is fast becoming a talked-about destination for start-ups and tech companies. One challenge the city faces: Its promise of “low cost of living” is quickly fading, as demand continues to fuel a shortage of options for homebuyers.

7. Providence, Rhode Island

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: N/A
Job market: 7/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 8/10

As gas prices continue to rise, you might just want to drive to Providence and forget your keys: The city has the highest walkability score of the destinations on our list this year. In addition to saving money on gas, you might save on a home, too. The median home price in Providence as of November 2021 stood below the national average, at $345,000, according to Redfin. In the high-priced Northeast (the median home price in Boston is more than double what it is here), Providence is a gem. This small-state city is poised to become an even bigger draw if plans for a new downtown riverwalk become reality.

8. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: 7/10
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 4/10
Wellness: 9/10

Don’t let frigid temperatures scare you off: Minneapolis in the summer can more than make up for your willingness to brave the cold. The city ranks third on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore list, which identifies the top U.S. destinations for convenient access to green space. The No. 2 city on the list? St. Paul, which also puts you in proximity to the more than 1,000 healthcare companies in the region. No matter where you wind up living in the Twin Cities, you might choose to explore the area without a car, as Minneapolis has the highest bike score of the cities on our list this year.

9. Cincinnati, Ohio

Affordability: 9/10
Diversity: 4/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 8/10

With a median home price of $220,000 (as of November 2021 Redfin reporting) and one of the top wellness rankings on our list, there’s a lot to like about Cincinnati. There are also a lot of employers to choose from if you’re thinking about a new job: P&G, Fifth Third Bank and Kroger are all headquartered here. With Xavier University, Miami University and the University of Cincinnati, the city also buzzes with a youthful academic energy. It isn’t on one of the coasts, but it still boasts waterfront real estate along the Ohio River. Plus, with major MLB and NFL franchises in town, you’ll have reasons to cheer all year long.

10. Jacksonville, Florida

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 6/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 5/10
Wellness: 8/10

Fidelity Investments, Aetna, Johnson & Johnson and Mayo Clinic are a few of the brands that make up the thriving business community in Jacksonville. That community is faring relatively well, too, as the city’s unemployment is at a low 3.3 percent (as of November 2021). This is a city steeped in nature, with more than 80,000 acres of marshes, wetlands and woods. This is also one of the best cities on our list for your wallet, with a lower cost of living and a median home price of $275,000 as of November 2021, according to Redfin. In recent years, new housing developments have helped offer the influx of residents additional options, and there are big plans in the works for the city’s future, including a $1.1 billion proposal to reshape the downtown riverfront.

11. Columbus, Ohio

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 7/10

If you look up in Columbus, chances are you’ll see a construction crane or a brand-new building: The capital of Ohio has been on a tear in development to welcome everyone who’s decided to relocate here. Those new arrivals are coming for more than Ohio State football (although that’s a big part of life); they’re finding job opportunities in computing, biomedical services, finance and e-commerce, as well as proximity to the Scioto Mile, a 175-acre, eight-park network connecting downtown Columbus to the Scioto River, and attracting bikers, kayakers and paddle boarders.

12. Kansas City, Missouri

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 5/10
Wellness: 7/10

Living in Kansas City means saving with some very affordable housing costs. In fact, rent on a one-bedroom here actually declined by 4 percent in the last year, according to rental site Zumper. That doesn’t mean sacrificing the perks of a big city, however. The Royals and the Chiefs each hoisted championship trophies in recent years, and Kansas City’s jazz circuit — with more than 40 nightclubs — offers opportunities to enjoy the soul of the city. If you aren’t working from home, you’re in luck: KC is home to many leading companies, including Garmin, H&R Block and Hallmark, and the city’s unemployment rate is under 3 percent (as of November 2021).

13. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: N/A
Job market: 7/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 7/10

Affordable housing, one of the best microbrewery scenes in America and a leader in medical device manufacturing — these are some of the reasons people keep planting roots in Grand Rapids. While the city’s landlocked, it’s just a 40-minute drive to the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer, and in the winter, Northern Michigan’s Midwest-friendly skiing offers a convenient low-cost getaway. Local leaders in Grand Rapids are aiming to add more reasons to put the city closer to the top of this list, including ambitions to lure tech companies and proposals for a large downtown amphitheater on the Grand River.

14. Tucson, Arizona

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 7/10

If you want to increase your Vitamin D in 2022, Tucson is your answer. This is the sunniest city on our list — approximately 85 percent of days in the year include a healthy dose of desert sun. Whether you prefer the challenge of mountain biking through the Sonoran Desert or a more calming round of golf, the city has an endless number of reasons to stay healthy and outside. When you do actually go indoors, your housing costs are fairly low: The median price of a home here was just over $300,000 as of November 2021, Redfin reports. With that extra money, you might be able to enjoy a dining scene that distinguishes the city as one of two UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy on our list (read on to discover the other).

15. Indianapolis, Indiana

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 5/10
Wellness: 6/10

While Indianapolis is famous for the engines of the Indy 500, quite a few cars are coming to The Circle City, shifting to park and sticking around. Major companies like Eli Lilly, Roche Diagnostics and Salesforce all have major presences here, and buying a home can be much easier compared to most of the cities on our list: The median home price as of November 2021 was $212,000, according to Redfin. If the four-wheeled racing of Indy’s fame isn’t your thing, you have plenty of two-wheel options to enjoy the outdoors. The eight-mile Indianapolis Cultural Trail winds through downtown, offering easy bike pit stops in neighborhoods like Fountain Square and Mass Ave. Sports enthusiasts will also love the city, which is home to the NCAA headquarters and regularly hosts major collegiate championship events.

16. Sacramento, California

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: 10/10
Job market: 6/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 8/10

While many moved away from high-priced San Francisco and San Jose throughout the pandemic, most didn’t go all that far. Instead, they headed for the capital of The Golden State. You’ll still pay more than the national average to buy a home in Sacramento, but this is one of the more reasonable places to enjoy California living. You might not be able to go to the beach, but you can still take advantage of the 250-plus days of sunshine here on the region’s more than 32-mile network of bike trails. As you explore those new places, Sacramento can also help you meet a wide range of new faces: This is the most diverse city on our list.

17. Denver, Colorado

Affordability: 5/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 7/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 9/10

If you’re in search of city living but also the ability to disconnect, Denver should be on your radar. The Mile High City has been welcoming new residents chasing that balance, and it comes with plenty of opportunities for work, too. The Denver metro area has seen massive momentum adding STEM jobs, beating out other big names like Seattle, Austin and San Francisco with its ability to attract new employees, according to one index. Be prepared for a hit to your bank account, though: Buying a place is tough here, and rental prices have soared throughout the pandemic.

18. Nashville, Tennessee

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: 5/10
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 5/10
Wellness: 7/10

While Nashville has exported its famous local specialty, hot chicken, to restaurants around the U.S., many are deciding to go straight to the source to try the culinary delight. Of course, they’re coming for more than a recipe: The city’s music industry, coupled with employment opportunities in healthcare, education and insurance, make the city an ideal place to work and play (or just listen). If you’re thinking about moving to Nashville, you might find yourself competing with others looking to relocate, however. Real estate agents in the area estimate that 82 people move to The Music City every day.

19. San Antonio, Texas

Affordability: 7/10
Diversity: 3/10
Job market: 7/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 6/10

San Antonio has big plans: The city is working on adding 140,000 jobs to the tune of $55 billion in economic impact by 2025. That kind of ambition often leads to some overly pricey real estate, but for now, The Alamo City can be a budget-friendly option in The Lone Star State. The median price of a home was $275,000 as of November 2021, per Redfin data. Employers like USAA and H-E-B call the city home, and other companies like Nissei, Pabst Brewing and Skipcart have recently unveiled plans for major operations here. If you’re a foodie, San Antonio might speak in your flavor profile, as well. The city is one of two U.S. cities that earned the honor of “Creative City of Gastronomy” from UNESCO (the other is Tucson, also on our list this year). Pack your boxes, and bring your appetite.

20. Atlanta, Georgia

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: 4/10
Job market: 9/10
Safety: 4/10
Wellness: 8/10

Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot and The Coca-Cola Company are a few of the reasons why Atlanta is such a desirable place to call home. In addition to serving as the corporate headquarters for those three well-established companies, Atlanta is earning a reputation as a top destination for emerging tech companies. If you aren’t up for an in-office routine, Atlanta is making a name as a top spot for those who can work remotely. The city’s bright future is encapsulated by the Atlanta Beltline, a massive urban development plan to repurpose abandoned railroad tracks with 33 miles of multi-use urban trails, 22 miles of urban transit, 450 public art installations and $10 billion in economic development. The project is also aiming to bring 5,600 affordable housing units to Atlanta. Simply put, the Atlanta of today looks good, but the Atlanta of tomorrow looks even better.

21. Ogden, Utah

Affordability: 5/10
Diversity: N/A
Job market: 10/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 7/10

Ogden is one of the smallest cities on our list in terms of population, but it packs one of the biggest selling points: an unemployment rate of just 1.3 percent (as of November 2021). Some come to work in defense — there’s an air force base — and the medical device and pharmaceutical industries also have a solid footprint here. However, you might be best suited for life in Ogden if you have the flexibility of working from home and the ability to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors: The city’s main attraction is mountain sports, with more than 11,000 acres for skiing within a short drive of downtown.

22. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Affordability: 6/10
Diversity: 3/10
Job market: 6/10
Safety: 6/10
Wellness: 8/10

Denver makes plenty of well-deserved headlines as a premier place to live, but Colorado Springs is giving the capital a run for the money — literally. The median price of a home in Colorado Springs as of January 2022 was around $425,000, versus a $535,000 price tag in Denver, according to Redfin. The Springs also offers equally convenient access to what everyone loves about Colorado: what’s outside your home. From hiking and biking trails in Garden of the Gods Park to the notorious white-knuckle drive up Pikes Peak, the city is a gateway to natural beauty. While the unemployment rate in Colorado Springs is higher compared to many other cities on our list, it has managed to regain all of the jobs lost during the pandemic, according to the state’s Labor Department.

23. Portland, Oregon

Affordability: 3/10
Diversity: 3/10
Job market: 8/10
Safety: 7/10
Wellness: 9/10

Portland is the biggest city in Oregon, so living here might mean somewhere in the larger metro area, which includes standouts like Hillsboro (home to a huge Intel campus) and Beaverton (the corporate headquarters of Nike). No matter which enclave you call home in the area, there are employment opportunities at several other big-name firms, including Boeing, Columbia and The Standard. Sure, it rains in the Pacific Northwest, but all that water translates to a whole lot of green space. Portland earned a spot in the top 10 on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings thanks to 80 miles of trails in Forest Park. When you’re not outdoors, you’ll find an array of dining options that satisfy every palate, plus a creative scene filled with art walks and concerts.

24. Houston, Texas

Affordability: 8/10
Diversity: 7/10
Job market: 6/10
Safety: 4/10
Wellness: 6/10

Houston’s immediate future looks bright: The city is on track to add around 75,000 jobs in 2022, according to local estimates, and more than 1.2 million new residents over the next decade, commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield found. The city’s Museum District includes 19 institutions that honor everything from Czech culture to craft-making. While Houston established itself in fossil fuels with companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and other big oil names, it’s making strides toward addressing climate change, earning an A ranking from environmental nonprofit CDP for the steps it’s taking to mitigate the climate crisis.

25. Seattle, Washington

Affordability: 1/10
Diversity: 4/10
Job market: 7/10
Safety: 5/10
Wellness: 10/10

With a median home price tag of $765,000 (as of December 2021), Seattle is the opposite of affordable. Here’s the thing, though: If you can manage to make enough money to live here, it can be worth it. Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks all maintain their corporate headquarters in The Emerald City, and when employees aren’t in the office, they’re enjoying the outdoors. From exploring more than 480 parks within city limits to hopping in the car to head to the Cascade Mountains for a more rigorous hike, the Seattle metro has no shortage of ways to soak in the scenery. If you’re looking to savor something more relaxing, the local winery and brewery scenes have you covered, too.

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Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor