50 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2018

Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2018Creative Commons 00
1. Austin, Texas. Overall score: 7.7; Quality of Life: 7.1; Value: 7.1.Creative Commons 00

Ever thought of just upping sticks and leaving town? Are you sick of the commute, the job market and the failing schools? Do you dream of a new start and a new scene?

If so, you're probably not alone. But where do you go?

Every year, U.S. News & World Report, an authority in rankings and consumer advice, releases its list of the Best Places to Live in the United States, based on extensive statistical research and public surveys.

"When deciding on a place to settle down, it's important to understand that where a person lives can impact their well-being," said Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News. "U.S. News created the Best Places to Live to highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability. The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially."

Analysts examined the 125 most populous metropolitan areas in the country, which included the so-called "Mega Cities" of more than 2.5 million people (New York's 21 million tops the list), all the way down to the "small city" of Anchorage, Alaska, whose population of 398,000 made it the smallest included in the study.

But size is absolutely no guarantee of either a high or a low position on the list of best places to live. Rather, "a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life," Real Estate News said, explaining its methodology. 

It allocated 30 percent of its final calculation to its "Quality of Life Index," which looked at crime rates, health care, education, well-being and time spent commuting. Twenty-five percent depended on its "Value Index," which compared median household income to the area's average cost of living. Meanwhile the "Job Market Index," which examined both unemployment rate alongside average salary, accounted for a further 20 percent of the calculation.

The final 25 percent was based on the study's "Desirability Index" and an area's net migration statistics. The analysts quizzed the American public about which metro areas most appealed to them to come up with a region's "desirability." Then they crunched the numbers from the U.S. Census to determine whether an area is successfully attracting new residents, or whether people tend to be leaving.

So, let's ask the question again: Where should you go? Here are the top 50 most desirable places to give you an idea:

2. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Overall score: 7.6; Quality of Life: 7.2; Value: 7.2.Creative Commons 00
3. Denver, Colorado. Overall score: 7.6; Quality of Life: 6.7; Value: 7.2.Creative Commons 00
4. Des Moines, Iowa. Overall score: 7.3; Quality of Life: 7.0; Value: 8.5.Creative Commons 00
5. Fayetteville, Arkansas. Overall score: 7.3; Quality of Life: 6.5; Value: 6.5.Creative Commons 00
6. Portland, Oregon. Overall score: 7.3.Creative Commons 00
7. Huntsville, Alabama. Overall score: 7.2; Quality of Life: 7.0; Value: 8.8.Creative Commons 00
8. Washington, D.C. Overall score: 7.2; Quality of Life: 6.4; Value: 7.4.Saul Loeb/AFP
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Overall score: 7.2; Quality of Life: 6.9; Value: 7.9.Creative Commons 00
10. Seattle, Washington. Overall score: 7.2; Quality of Life: 6.2; Value: 6.4.Creative Commons 00
11. Nashville, Tennessee. Overall Score: 7.1; Quality of Life: 6.1; Value: 7.3.Creative Commons 00
12. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Overall Score: 7.1; Quality of Life: 7.7; Value: 8.1.Rachel Kramer
13. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina. Overall Score: 7.1; Quality of Life: 6.7; Value: 7.8.Creative Commons / Bz3rk