The 25 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2018

Check out where U.S. residents would live if they could.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |July 18, 2018, at 9:31 a.m.

The 25 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2018

Slideshow

If given the choice, where would you live?

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Among the factors contributing to our Best Places to Live rankings – including affordability, job market and population growth due to net migration – U.S. News surveys people throughout the country to determine where residents would live if given the choice. According to the Google Consumer Survey results, here are the 25 most desired places to live out of the 125 largest metro areas in the country.

25. Washington, D.C.

25. Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 8
Metro Population: 6,011,752
Median Home Price: $368,642
Median Annual Salary: $68,000

The nation’s capital is steeped in history, job opportunities and mild winters, which leads many U.S. residents to dream of residing in the District of Columbia.

Learn more about Washington.

24. San Antonio

24. San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas, USA - April 13th, 2018: Colorful celebration of a fiesta during a hot sunny day

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 14
Metro Population: 2,232,345
Median Home Price: $200,667
Median Annual Salary: $45,210

An hour-and-a-half drive south from Austin, Texas, San Antonio is gaining in reputation and popularity among U.S. residents. The home of the Alamo offers similar city-living options with easy access to outdoor activities along the San Antonio River.

Learn more about San Antonio.

23. Anchorage, Alaska

23. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage Alaska downtown skyline.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 42
Metro Population: 398,000
Median Home Value: $320,500*
Median Annual Salary: $57,770

It may be a bit of a surprise that the northernmost place of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. is also one of the most desirable, but U.S. residents are intrigued by the possibility of living in Anchorage. The city has ample access to outdoor activities, and residents have the opportunity to live on more land.

Learn more about Anchorage.

(*The median home price for Anchorage was not available, so median home value is listed.)

22. Salinas, California

22. Salinas, California

"Agricultural lands ready to be planted in the Salinas Valley, California USA"

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 114
Metro Population: 430,201
Median Home Price: $478,521
Median Annual Salary: $47,660

South of the Bay Area and near the California coast, the Salinas metro area offers more varied weather than Southern California and attracts many people looking to live near Monterey Bay.

Learn more about Salinas.

21. Las Vegas

21. Las Vegas

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas, Nevada USA

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 80
Metro Population: 2,070,153
Median Home Price: $232,533
Median Annual Salary: $43,480

Best known for its casinos and high-profile entertainment, Las Vegas is regarded as a city dedicated to the tourism industry – but survey results reveal that many people would love to make their visit to Sin City permanent.

Learn more about Las Vegas.

20. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

20. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach South Carolina aerial view at sunset

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 74
Metro Population: 419,585
Median Home Price: $142,400*
Median Annual Salary: $35,650

The fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. in 2018, Myrtle Beach is a tourism destination that makes many wish they could return on a more permanent basis.

Learn more about Myrtle Beach.

(*The median home price for Myrtle Beach was not available, so median home value is listed.)

19. New Orleans

19. New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana at Jackson Square.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 111
Metro Population: 1,250,247
Median Home Price: $183,775
Median Annual Salary: $43,410

The largest metro area in Louisiana is best known for its Mardi Gras celebration, and U.S. residents like the laid-back atmosphere New Orleans exudes year-round, making it the No. 19 Most Desirable Place to Live in 2018.

Learn more about New Orleans.

18. Los Angeles

18. Los Angeles

Los Angeles, USA - February 29, 2016: The Hollywood sign overlooking Los Angeles. The iconic sign was originally created in 1923.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 101
Metro Population: 18,463,122
Median Home Price: $526,442
Median Annual Salary: $53,379

The second-largest metro area in the U.S. is certainly a highly desirable place to live, serving as a destination for tourism, the film industry and sunny, warm weather.

Learn more about Los Angeles.

17. Charleston, South Carolina

17. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA historic downtown cityscape.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 38
Metro Population: 728,271
Median Home Price: $232,983
Median Annual Salary: $44,500

With a warm climate and prime location on the South Carolina coast, Charleston is a dream destination for many U.S. residents, coming in at No. 17 on the Most Desirable list.

Learn more about Charleston.

16. Boston

16. Boston

Beautiful Boston, Massachusetts, USA on a beautiful day in autumn as seen from Cambridge.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 25
Metro Population: 4,728,844
Median Home Price: $399,458
Median Annual Salary: $64,080

Known for its role in the American Revolution, globally recognized educational institutions and innovative medical establishments, Beantown takes the No. 16 spot.

Learn more about Boston.

15. Santa Barbara, California

15. Santa Barbara, California

The Santa Barbara Courthouse under a pink sunset with clouds.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 68
Metro Population: 439,395
Median Home Price: $464,392
Median Annual Salary: $53,090

The Santa Barbara metro area is close enough to LA to make it accessible, but far enough away that residents can appreciate the more remote location, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Los Padres National Forest.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

14. Asheville, North Carolina

14. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Caroilna, USA downtown skyline at dawn.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 24
Metro Population: 441,724
Median Home Price: $238,400*
Median Annual Salary: $40,330

On the opposite side of the country, Asheville’s big draw for many would-be residents is its mountain setting, combined with a quirky small-city atmosphere, lending to Asheville’s No. 14 spot on the list.

Learn more about Asheville.

(*The median home price for Asheville was not available, so median home value is listed.)

13. Port St. Lucie, Florida

13. Port St. Lucie, Florida

The Crosstown Parkway Extension Project is a new bridge crossing the North Fork of the St. Lucie River in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Construction is expected to be completed by November of 2019.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 79
Metro Population: 446,728
Median Home Price: $179,058
Median Annual Salary: $41,120

Located along Florida's Atlantic coast, Port St. Lucie is a smaller metro area compared to neighboring Miami or Orlando, but its beach access and year-round warm weather certainly leads many Americans to wish they lived in the area.

Learn more about Port St. Lucie.

12. Phoenix

12. Phoenix

Phoenix Arizona skyline under a dramatic sunset as seen from Scottsdale

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 19
Metro Population: 4,486,153
Median Home Price: $235,333
Median Annual Salary: $47,540

For a drier, but still hot, climate, Phoenix also attracts many residents looking to skip winter altogether. Aside from those looking to live in Phoenix full time, snowbirds – people who winter down south and summer in the northern states – are common in the Arizona metro area.

Learn more about Phoenix.

11. Nashville, Tennessee

11. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee. Nashville is known as the country-music capital of the world. The city is also known for its culture and commerce and great bar scene

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 11
Metro Population: 1,794,570
Median Home Price: $236,267
Median Annual Salary: $45,780

The capital of Tennessee is also considered the place to go for a career in country music. Nashville is a dream hometown for many others, as the area has a rapidly growing population due to migration over the past five years.

Learn more about Nashville.

10. Denver

10. Denver

beautiful drone image of the golden cupola of the Colorado state capital building in the city of Denver

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 3
Metro Population: 2,752,056
Median Home Price: $362,492
Median Annual Salary: $55,910

The Mile High City is a top destination particularly for millennials, who are attracted to Denver’s flourishing job market and its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, where countless outdoor opportunities are just a short drive away.

Learn more about Denver.

9. New York City

9. New York City

Brooklyn Bridge at and the Lower Manhattan skyline under a purple sunset

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 96
Metro Population: 20,973,061
Median Home Price: $374,814
Median Annual Salary: $61,925

The largest metro area in the U.S. takes the No. 9 spot on this year’s Most Desirable Places to Live list. A global hub for finance, fashion, entertainment and so much more, New York City is a widely recognized dream locale for many people, young and old.

Learn more about New York City.

8. Fort Myers, Florida

8. Fort Myers, Florida

Florida Fort Myers colorful facades and palm trees in USA

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 41
Metro Population: 680,970
Median Home Price: $210,133
Median Annual Salary: $40,420

Ranking No. 13 on 2017’s Most Desirable Places to Live list, Fort Myers jumps to No. 8 this year. Fort Myers is a popular retirement destination as well as an attractive beach-lined vacation spot.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

7. San Francisco

7. San Francisco

Aerial view of San Francisco and the Oakland Bay Bridge. See other photos from USA:

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 20
Metro Population: 4,577,530
Median Home Price: $790,233
Median Annual Salary: $69,110

The hilly streets and Victorian row houses in San Francisco captivate residents and tourists alike, and the city’s reputation as a place where free spirits and tech innovators thrive is another draw.

Learn more about San Francisco.

6. Austin

6. Austin

The Austin Texas Sunrise of 2017 The Travel Destination Cityscape Skyline - Sunrise Cityscape Austin Texas at Golden Hour Above Tranquil Lady Bird Lake 2017

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 1
Metro Population: 1,942,615
Median Home Price: $278,608
Median Annual Salary: $50,830

Many people are acting on their wish to move to Austin to enjoy its rapidly expanding job market, warm climate and unique cultural vibe. With many tech companies opening offices here or even fully relocating from Silicon Valley, Austin is yet another place to live if your focus is on job opportunities.

Learn more about Austin.

5. Seattle

5. Seattle

The Smith Tower Observatory is one of the oldest Skyscraper in Seattle

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 10
Metro Population: 3,671,095
Median Home Price: $403,650
Median Annual Salary: $61,170

Whether you’re a fan of Amazon or you simply like the rainier Pacific Northwest climate, you’re not alone if you prefer Seattle to some of the hotter places on the list. The nearby mountains and ocean make it easy to escape for outdoor excursions.

Learn more about Seattle.

4. Honolulu

4. Honolulu

Typical picturesque sunset along Waikiki Beach with hundreds gathering to watch

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 986,999
Median Home Price: $581,658
Median Annual Salary: $51,080

After taking the top spot on the Most Desirable Places to Live list for two years, Honolulu has been unseated, falling to the No. 4 spot for 2018. Of course, U.S. residents still consider the Hawaii metro area an ideal place to live.

Learn more about Honolulu.

3. San Diego

3. San Diego

A beautiful sunset at a pier while sitting on the sandy beach.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 30
Metro Population: 3,253,356
Median Home Price: $521,067
Median Annual Salary: $55,480

San Diego comes in at No. 3 for its sandy beaches, sunny weather and renowned attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.

Learn more about San Diego.

2. Portland, Oregon

2. Portland, Oregon

Portland, OR, USA - July 16, 2015: People ordering food from the multi-ethnic fast-food vendors in downtown Portland, Oregon

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 6
Metro Population: 2,351,319
Median Home Price: $349,675
Median Annual Salary: $53,960

After having not appeared in the Most Desirable Places to Live list in 2017, U.S. residents are showing love for this Oregon metro area openly dedicated to being a bit out there. Portland is best known for its independent businesses, easy access to hiking trails and quirky food and nightlife options.

Learn more about Portland.

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorful hot air balloons glide over Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs, CO, at the Colorado Balloon Classic; Cheyenne Mountain is in the background.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 2
Metro Population: 688,643
Median Home Price: $255,233
Median Annual Salary: $49,450

After ranking No. 2 on the Most Desirable Places to Live list for two years in a row, Colorado Springs has unseated Honolulu in 2018. Colorado Springs residents have easy access to the mountains and can take advantage of both hiking in the foothills and skiing at well-known resort towns in the Rockies.

Learn more about Colorado Springs.

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Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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