What's it like to live in Lexington-Fayette, KY?


Megan Larkin

Profile written by local expert:

Megan Larkin

Lexington blends influences from the South and Midwest to create a cultural identity all its own. A college town, Lexington is home to the University of Kentucky, which is the city's largest school and employer. The university plays an important role in the city by providing a constant influx of young, educated people into the culture and economy. More than 40 percent of the total population in the Lexington area older than 25 has a bachelor's degree.

Known as the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington relies on the equestrian industry as a main economic driver, and it's a huge part of the city's culture. Horse farms surround the city on all sides, many streets are named after Triple Crown winners and horse statues are displayed in parking lots and city parks. The horse industry is so important to Lexington that zoning restrictions are in place to protect hundreds of neighboring farms from urban sprawl.

You don't have to love horses to love Lexington (but if you really hate them, it may not be the place for you). Lexingtonians also love college basketball, locally sourced cuisine, outdoor recreation and of course, bourbon. The region has a variety of industries, a temperate climate and plenty of access to the great outdoors. The area's population is on the rise, but the cost of living is still relatively low. Combined with a diverse job market and a stable economy, this makes Lexington an ideal place for young professionals, families and retirees.

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Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky is ranked:

#21 in Best Places to Live

7.0

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.3
  • Value
    7.8
  • Job Market
    6.4
  • Quality of Life
    7.1
  • Net Migration
    6.7

Read how we rank places

Lexington-Fayette, KY Quick Stats

  • 495,193

    Metro Population

  • $43,620

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.7

    Median Age

  • N/A

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.8%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $782

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Lexington-Fayette, KY?

Lexington's population is growing, which has contributed to a slow increase in the cost of living. Despite this, Lexington is still very affordable compared with other metro areas around the country. Due to the city's large college population, rental housing is abundant and inexpensive. Whether renting or purchasing a home, your dollar will go further in Lexington than in most other towns.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.8 /10

How we calculate this.


Lexington-Fayette offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Lexington-Fayette, KY.

What's the weather like in Lexington-Fayette, KY?

While winter blizzards are possible in Lexington, any forecast calling for snow is enough to send people to the store for a week's worth of groceries. Fall and spring see pleasant conditions. 

What's the best way to get around Lexington-Fayette, KY?

Lexington is a driving city, and it would be difficult to live in most areas outside the city center without a car. There is a public transit system – Lextran – that operates bus routes throughout the greater Lexington area, but coverage is limited in more suburban areas. Cabs are generally only readily available near bars and on the weekends.

Due to traffic congestion and public demand, the transportation department is actively trying to make the city more bike-friendly, with more dedicated lanes being added all the time. Some residents are beginning to take advantage of the changes, but it's still uncommon to see bicycle commuters outside of the downtown and college areas.  

Residents looking to travel beyond the greater Lexington area can do so by car, bus or plane. The metro area is located at the convergence of several major interstates and is serviced by inter-city bus companies like Greyhound and Megabus. For destinations further afield, residents rely on the Blue Grass Airport, which is serviced by American Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, offering nonstop flights to domestic destinations like Chicago, Atlanta, New York City and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Commuting in Lexington-Fayette, KY

Means of Transportation
Driving
90%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
3%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.3 minutes

4.8 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Lexington-Fayette, KY?

As the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington is a major draw for equestrians. The low cost of living and moderate climate appeals to retirees, and high-quality schools attract families with children.  

While most residents are not college students, Lexington is a college town. The University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and Bluegrass Community & Technical College are responsible for an influx of college students, some of whom remain in the city after graduation. 

The median age of the Lexington area population is lower than the national median, which makes the area a good fit for young professionals. When it comes to religion, the majority of Lexington residents are unaffiliated; those who are mostly identify as Protestant.

The city is neither notably poor nor notably affluent. Less than 20 percent of the population is living at or below the poverty level, and the stable economy keeps the middle class strong.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Lexington-Fayette as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Lexington-Fayette, KY?

Lexington is serious about college basketball. Residents support the University of Kentucky Wildcats with a fervor that surpasses the fan base of most professional teams. Kentucky fans camp out for tickets to "Big Blue Madness," the official kickoff to the season, which features an exhibition-style team scrimmage. When UK is playing, streets and restaurants are deserted, and when they win a national championship (which is often), the downtown streets look like New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

Lexington is also home to two horse race tracks, and when Keeneland is in session, residents show up in suits and dresses to place bets, drink bourbon and tailgate in style.

Families enjoy multiple picturesque parks like the urban Woodland Park, which hosts a large art fair every August, or Jacobson Park, where residents can kayak around the lake, fish, fly a kite or play Frisbee golf. Lexington also has the popular Legacy Trail, a 12-mile paved shared-use path that runs from the urban north side of town to the Kentucky Horse Park. More adventurous Lexingtonians take advantage of nice weather to hike, kayak, raft and camp in nearby areas like Red River Gorge or Cumberland Falls.