The 25 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019

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

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |May 17, 2019, at 10:10 a.m.

The 25 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019

Slideshow

If given the choice, where would you live?

A hispanic adult relaxes in a hammock on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii as the sun begins to set on a warm, summer evening.

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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 SurveyMonkey results, here are the 25 most desired places to live out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the country.

25. Spokane, Washington

25. Spokane, Washington

Last minute vacation in Spokane, Washington.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 65
Metro Population: 547,688
Median Home Price: $221,800
Median Annual Salary: $47,320

Many of the metro areas on the Most Desirable Places to Live list offer ample outdoor enjoyment with either warm weather and beaches or four seasons and mountains – and Spokane falls in the latter category. This eastern Washington metro area has Mt. Spokane nearby, as well as plenty of state parks, waterfalls and trails that allow residents to get outdoors.

Learn more about Spokane.

24. Salinas, California

24. Salinas, California

Strawberry fields in the Salinas Valley of central California juxtapose with urban residential housing in the adjacent foothills.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 117
Metro Population: 433,168
Median Home Price: $581,342
Median Annual Salary: $48,290

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

Learn more about Salinas.

23. Port St. Lucie, Florida

23. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Aerial drone image of Port St Lucie Florida USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 454,482
Median Home Price: $211,083
Median Annual Salary: $42,500

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 have many Americans wishing they lived in the area.

Learn more about Port St. Lucie.

22. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

22. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Vacation ideas

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 432,772
Median Home Price: $181,800
Median Annual Salary: $35,890

Myrtle Beach is the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S., having grown by 17.41% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Myrtle Beach is a tourism destination that makes many dream they could return on a more permanent basis.

Learn more about Myrtle Beach.

21. Anchorage, Alaska

21. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska, United States Of America

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 70
Metro Population: 399,360
Median Home Price: $259,900
Median Annual Salary: $58,980

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 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.

20. Sarasota, Florida

20. Sarasota, Florida

Going toward Downtown Sarasota from from the Ringling Bridge

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 18
Metro Population: 768,381
Median Home Price: $237,260
Median Annual Salary: $42,680

A popular retirement destination with a median resident age over 51, Sarasota is seeing its population grow rapidly. It’s no wonder, with year-round warm weather and beaches popular among tourists and residents alike.

Learn more about Sarasota.

19. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

19. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I got lucky enough to catch a gorgeous sunset last night...

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 31
Metro Population: 658,195
Median Home Price: $145,725
Median Annual Salary: $44,910

For those seeking a southern atmosphere without too much altitude or sand, Winston-Salem is a perfect fit. This spot in central North Carolina doesn’t attract vacationers like the Outer Banks on the coast, but it draws many for North Carolina barbecue and annual festivals that celebrate different backgrounds and interests.

Learn more about Winston-Salem.

18. New Orleans

18. New Orleans

Potted plants in balcony of building at French Quarter, New Orleans

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 114
Metro Population: 1,260,660
Median Home Price: $193,575
Median Annual Salary: $43,310

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. 18 Most Desirable Place to Live in 2019.

Learn more about New Orleans.

16. Santa Barbara, California (tie)

16. Santa Barbara, California (tie)

Santa Barbara: people at scenic old wooden pier in Santa Barbara in sunset. The pier was completed in 1872 and was the longest pier at that time in the USA.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 73
Metro Population: 442,996
Median Home Price: $463,750
Median Annual Salary: $54,320

The Santa Barbara metro area is close enough to Los Angeles to make it accessible, but it's 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.

16. Asheville, North Carolina (tie)

16. Asheville, North Carolina (tie)

Epic Sunset over Downtown Asheville North Carolina NC cityscape with blue ridge mountain range and Mt. Pisgah featured in the background.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 16
Metro Population: 445,625
Median Home Price: $248,500
Median Annual Salary: $41,210

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 that attracts artists, musicians and fans of outdoor concerts and public art displays.

Learn more about Asheville.

15. Pensacola, Florida

15. Pensacola, Florida

Beautiful colorful morning scene of a marona in Pensacola, Florida with fluffy clouds

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 37
Metro Population: 476,702
Median Home Price: $175,875
Median Annual Salary: $41,200

For access to Florida beaches and a bit more of a southern feel, look no further than this metro area in the Florida Panhandle. While Pensacola may not get the same attention from tourists as the likes of Orlando or Miami, Pensacola still sees plenty of visitors and new residents every year.

Learn more about Pensacola.

14. Phoenix

14. Phoenix

aerial view of Phoenix Arizona skyline at sunset

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 26
Metro Population: 4,561,038
Median Home Price: $234,183
Median Annual Salary: $49,500

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.

13. Nashville, Tennessee

13. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Skyline and Bridge at Sunset.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 1,830,410
Median Home Price: $248,883
Median Annual Salary: $47,110

The capital of Tennessee is also considered the place to go for a career in country music. But 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.

12. Fort Myers, Florida

12. Fort Myers, Florida

Usa, Florida, Fort Myers Beach.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 700,165
Median Home Price: $219,200
Median Annual Salary: $41,380

Ranking No. 8 on 2018’s Most Desirable Places to Live list, Fort Myers falls back to No. 12 this year. Fort Myers is a popular retirement destination as well as an attractive beach-lined vacation spot.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

11. Los Angeles

11. Los Angeles

Beautiful sunset of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 107
Metro Population: 18,585,594
Median Home Price: $526,214
Median Annual Salary: $53,803

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

Learn more about Los Angeles.

10. Denver

10. Denver

Aerial shot of Denver

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 2
Metro Population: 2,798,684
Median Home Price: $393,842
Median Annual Salary: $57,400

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

Learn more about Denver.

9. Austin, Texas

9. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is the best place to travel alone

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 1
Metro Population: 2,000,590
Median Home Price: $292,500
Median Annual Salary: $51,840

Austin's population grew by 10.09% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration, which shows that many people are already acting on their wish to move to the Texas captial 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.

8. New York City

8. New York City

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 90
Metro Population: 21,139,370
Median Home Price: $386,862
Median Annual Salary: $63,079

The largest metro area in the U.S. takes the No. 8 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.

7. Seattle

7. Seattle

High dynamic image of Seattle skyline in dramatic sunrise colors across pier-66 waterfront

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 9
Metro Population: 3,735,216
Median Home Price: $442,333
Median Annual Salary: $63,120

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.

6. Las Vegas

6. Las Vegas

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 71
Metro Population: 2,112,436
Median Home Price: $271,767
Median Annual Salary: $44,450

Jumping up from No. 21 on the 2018 list, Las Vegas is best known for its casinos and high-profile entertainment. While Las Vegas is regarded as a city dedicated to the tourism industry, survey results reveal that many people would love to make their visit to Sin City permanent.

Learn more about Las Vegas.

5. San Diego

5. San Diego

The iconic "Big Dipper" roller coaster at Belmont Park featured in the center of this aerial photograph of Mission Beach in San Diego, California.  The downtown skyline is visible in the distance.  I shot this image nearing dusk after a storm had cleared from an altitude of about 300 feet during a helicopter photo flight.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 36
Metro Population: 3,283,665
Median Home Price: $555,325
Median Annual Salary: $56,410

San Diego comes in at No. 5 for its sandy beaches, sunny weather and renowned attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.

Learn more about San Diego.

1. San Francisco (tie)

1. San Francisco (tie)

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 7
Metro Population: 4,641,820
Median Home Price: $768,517
Median Annual Salary: $69,700

As part of a four-way tie, San Francisco joins three other metro areas at No. 1 as the most desirable metro areas in the U.S. San Francisco's hilly streets and Victorian row houses captivate residents and tourists, and the city’s reputation as a place where free spirits and tech innovators thrive is another major draw.

Learn more about San Francisco.

1. Portland, Oregon (tie)

1. Portland, Oregon (tie)

Overlooking Mt. Hood and Portland, Oregon

(Getty Stock Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 8
Metro Population: 2,382,037
Median Home Price: $375,425
Median Annual Salary: $55,330

Ranking second for desirability in 2018, Portland joins the four-way tie for first in 2019. 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 (tie)

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado (tie)

The beautiful City of Colorado Springs in the middle of summer

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 3
Metro Population: 698,595
Median Home Price: $286,700
Median Annual Salary: $50,050

Colorado Springs takes a No. 1 spot for desirability for the second year in a row. 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.

1. Honolulu (tie)

1. Honolulu (tie)

Cityscape of Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii

(iStock/Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 60
Metro Population: 990,060
Median Home Price: $581,658
Median Annual Salary: $54,030

Returning to No. 1 after ranking fourth in 2018, Honolulu is known as both an ideal travel destination and a desirable place to live. There’s little doubt many vacationers wish their time spent relaxing in Honolulu could be extended indefinitely.

Learn more about Honolulu.

The Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019 are:

The Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019 are:

This image is shot using a drone.

(Getty Images)

  • Honolulu
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • New York City
  • Austin, Texas
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Phoenix
  • Pensacola, Florida
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • New Orleans
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Sarasota, Florida
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • Salinas, California
  • Spokane, Washington

Read More

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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