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150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-21

U.S. News analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life.

For more information on how we rank, read the Best Places to Live methodology.

Real Estate Rankings


Rankings Category


Population Size


Average Rent


Median Home Price


Commute Time


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150 matches
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150 place matches

Boulder, CO

badge #1 in Best Places to Live

Snug against the foothills where the Great Plains give rise to the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is nothing if not a looker. This city … more

  • 7.8 Overall Score
  • 8.3 Quality of Life
  • 6.3 Value

Denver, CO

badge #2 in Best Places to Live

Founded in the mid-1800s as a mining hub during the gold rush, Denver has come a long way since its Wild West days. Over time, its re… more

  • 7.4 Overall Score
  • 7.0 Quality of Life
  • 6.6 Value

Austin, TX

badge #3 in Best Places to Live

People are drawn to the Texas capital's music, outdoor spaces and cultural institutions. Austin was established along the Colorado Ri… more

  • 7.4 Overall Score
  • 7.1 Quality of Life
  • 6.6 Value

Colorado Springs, CO

badge #4 in Best Places to Live

Colorado Springs might not jump off the map as an economic or cultural hub the way larger metro areas like Denver do. But in a quiete… more

  • 7.4 Overall Score
  • 6.9 Quality of Life
  • 6.5 Value

Fort Collins, CO

badge #5 in Best Places to Live

Fort Collins was once overshadowed by Colorado’s heavily populated Front Range and famous mountain ski towns. That status has chan… more

  • 7.4 Overall Score
  • 7.6 Quality of Life
  • 6.0 Value

Charlotte, NC

badge #6 in Best Places to Live

Charlotte is a region that's equal parts old-fashioned southern charm and high-energy cosmopolitan bustle. You'll still hear "y'all" … more

  • 7.3 Overall Score
  • 6.4 Quality of Life
  • 7.6 Value

Des Moines, IA

badge #7 in Best Places to Live

The capital of this so-called flyover state may not top your to-visit list, but Des Moines is a great place to live and raise a famil… more

  • 7.3 Overall Score
  • 7.3 Quality of Life
  • 8.4 Value

Fayetteville, AR

badge #8 in Best Places to Live

Located in a region that's experiencing drastic growth, Fayetteville – together with Bentonville, Rogers and Springdale – has transfo… more

  • 7.3 Overall Score
  • 7.2 Quality of Life
  • 8.3 Value

Portland, OR

badge #9 in Best Places to Live

Portland's population toes the line between an innocent playfulness and a shameless wild side. Naked bicycle rides, a fully costumed … more

  • 7.3 Overall Score
  • 6.7 Quality of Life
  • 6.1 Value

San Francisco, CA

badge #10 in Best Places to Live

A beautiful region filled with iconic landmarks, independently owned businesses and trendsetting residents, San Francisco has long fo… more

  • 7.2 Overall Score
  • 6.6 Quality of Life
  • 5.1 Value
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