The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life in 2018

These metro areas offer the best education, access to health services and crime rates.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |June 20, 2018, at 3:42 p.m.

The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life in 2018

Slideshow

Taking your quality of life into account

Aerial view of suburbs

(Getty Images)

Many factors play into truly loving where you live. Affordability and career opportunities certainly contribute, but don't discount daily commute, access to quality education and health care, crime rates and general well-being. As part of the Best Places to Live rankings, U.S. News compiled information on these important aspects of a top-notch place to live. (Find out more about the categories here). Read on for the 25 metro areas that scored highest across all five categories.

25. Dallas-Fort Worth

25. Dallas-Fort Worth

Photo of Dallas skyline in the morning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 18
Median Home Price: $210,181
Median Annual Salary: $50,350
College Readiness Ranking: 38
Health Ranking: 115
Well-Being Ranking: 10
Crime Ranking: 4
Average Commute Time: 27.8 minutes

Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metro area in Texas, but that doesn’t keep residents from being satisfied. The Dallas-Fort Worth area ranks 10th out of the 125 most populous places on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which measures residents’ satisfaction with where they live, plus their physical health and the area’s economic stability.

Learn more about Dallas-Fort Worth.

24. Des Moines, Iowa

24. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa skyline from the summer of 2013. Taken from the Mercy Holiday Inn

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 4
Median Home Price: $181,217
Median Annual Salary: $49,420
College Readiness Ranking: 83
Health Ranking: 59
Well-Being Ranking: 22
Crime Ranking: 49
Average Commute Time: 20.1 minutes

Des Moines residents benefit from a particularly short commute: On average, residents spend just over 20 minutes getting to work in the morning. That's the third-shortest average commute of the 125 U.S. metros ranked, tied with Brownsville, Texas.

Learn more about Des Moines.

23. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

23. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Buildings in Lexington, Kentucky - old and new.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 21
Median Home Value: $169,200*
Median Annual Salary: $43,620
College Readiness Ranking: 19
Health Ranking: 20
Well-Being Ranking: 91
Crime Ranking: 70
Average Commute Time: 21.3 minutes

High school students in the Lexington-Fayette metro area perform well in terms of college preparedness, ranking 19th in the category out of the 125 metro areas in the Best Places to Live ranking. This is based on the average college readiness score of all high schools in the area, which comes from U.S. News' Best High Schools calculation.

Learn more about Lexington-Fayette.

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

22. Madison, Wisconsin

22. Madison, Wisconsin

A vivid, photo taken from an airplane of downtown Madison, Wisconsin in spring.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 16
Median Home Price: $238,375
Median Annual Salary: $50,830
College Readiness Ranking: 32
Health Ranking: 21
Well-Being Ranking: 121
Crime Ranking: 15
Average Commute Time: 21.6 minutes

Madison’s best score contributing to the Quality of Life ranking is for crime, where Madison ranks 15th for low murder and property crime rates.

Learn more about Madison.

21. Austin, Texas

21. Austin, Texas

Austin Texas Skyline Cityscape Overlook Downtown Urban Lookout during September 2015 a brand new look at the Austin Texas Cityscape Central Texas Capital City View of the Downtown Skyline. Congress Avenue heading towards the capital with the Frost Bank tower and the office buildings and towers all in a line. Austin skyline, Town Lake and Congress Avenue Bridge; Austin,Texas (TX). This barrel-arched bridge with its open spandrel construction, built in 1910, is an Austin landmark.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 1
Median Home Price: $278,608
Median Annual Salary: $50,830
College Readiness Ranking: 12
Health Ranking: 100
Well-Being Ranking: 27
Crime Ranking: 40
Average Commute Time: 26.4 minutes

The No. 1 Best Place to Live in 2018 is a particularly strong place to live for high school students. Test scores indicate that Austin’s high schoolers rank 12th for college readiness out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Austin.

20. Syracuse, New York

20. Syracuse, New York

view of the city of Syracuse, new york

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 48
Median Home Value: $129,900*
Median Annual Salary: $48,530
College Readiness Ranking: 54
Health Ranking: 18
Well-Being Ranking: 46
Crime Ranking: 64
Average Commute Time: 21.1 minutes

This upstate New York metro area ranks 18th for its proximity to quality health care options.

Learn more about Syracuse.

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

19. Melbourne, Florida

19. Melbourne, Florida

Sunset over the Melbourne Causeway

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 29
Median Home Price: $163,042
Median Annual Salary: $46,520
College Readiness Ranking: 2
Health Ranking: 39
Well-Being Ranking: 120
Crime Ranking: 41
Average Commute Time: 24.2 minutes

Melbourne high school students rank second out of the 125 most populous metro areas for college preparedness.

Learn more about Melbourne.

18. Colorado, Springs, Colorado

18. Colorado, Springs, Colorado

Garden of gods in Colorado Springs

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 2
Median Home Price: $255,233
Median Annual Salary: $49,450
College Readiness Ranking: 14
Health Ranking: 84
Well-Being Ranking: 39
Crime Ranking: 58
Average Commute Time: 22.7 minutes

Colorado Springs high school students also perform well, as their test scores rank it 14th for college readiness.

Learn more about Colorado Springs.

17. Portland, Maine

17. Portland, Maine

Portland Head lighthouse on the rocky coastline of Maine at sunrise,

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 27
Median Home Price: $219,658
Median Annual Salary: $47,770
College Readiness Ranking: 37
Health Ranking: 40
Well-Being Ranking: 55
Crime Ranking: 8
Average Commute Time: 24.7 minutes

This New England metro area ranks eighth overall for low murder and property crime rates.

Learn more about Portland.

16. Santa Rosa, California

16. Santa Rosa, California

Wine grapes in Sonoma County, California.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 77
Median Home Price: $499,513
Median Annual Salary: $52,670
College Readiness Ranking: 29
Health Ranking: 29
Well-Being Ranking: 57
Crime Ranking: 10
Average Commute Time: 25 minutes

This city in the heart of California wine country scores well for low murder and property crime rates, taking the 10th spot in the crime category.

Learn more about Santa Rosa.

15. New Haven, Connecticut

15. New Haven, Connecticut

Downtown New Haven, Connecticut

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 88
Median Home Price: $193,483
Median Annual Salary: $55,480
College Readiness Ranking: 43
Health Ranking: 14
Well-Being Ranking: 102
Crime Ranking: 1
Average Commute Time: 24.6 minutes

Given that its murder and crime rates are well below the average rate for similar-sized metro areas, New Haven takes the No. 1 spot for crime out of the 125 places ranked.

Learn more about New Haven.

14. El Paso, Texas

14. El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 105
Median Home Price: $137,842
Median Annual Salary: $37,440
College Readiness Ranking: 50
Health Ranking: 123
Well-Being Ranking: 1
Crime Ranking: 26
Average Commute Time: 23.3 minutes

According to a poll of its residents, El Paso scores highest of the 125 most populous metro areas in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

Learn more about El Paso.

13. Rochester, New York

13. Rochester, New York

The High Falls are one of three voluminous waterfalls on the Genesee River, that flow through the city of Rochester in New York

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 51
Median Home Price: $144,667
Median Annual Salary: $48,970
College Readiness Ranking: 15
Health Ranking: 32
Well-Being Ranking: 84
Crime Ranking: 55
Average Commute Time: 21.2 minutes

In Rochester, high school students are well prepared for higher education, ranking 15th for college readiness.

Learn more about Rochester.

12. Asheville, North Carolina

12. Asheville, North Carolina

Autumn in Asheville, North Carolina.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 24
Median Home Value: $236,500*
Median Annual Salary: $40,330
College Readiness Ranking: 40
Health Ranking: 17
Well-Being Ranking: 45
Crime Ranking: 59
Average Commute Time: 21.3 minutes

Since this city is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville residents don’t have much traffic to worry about, with an average morning commute of just 21.3 minutes.

Learn more about Asheville.

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

11. San Diego

11. San Diego

Last minute vacation in San Diego, United States

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 30
Median Home Price: $521,067
Median Annual Salary: $55,480
College Readiness Ranking: 10
Health Ranking: 98
Well-Being Ranking: 32
Crime Ranking: 28
Average Commute Time: 25.3 minutes

San Diego’s best score in Quality of Life comes from high schoolers' excellent test scores, giving the Southern California metro area the No. 10 ranking for college readiness.

Learn more about San Diego.

10. Reno, Nevada

10. Reno, Nevada

Iconic welcome sign, Reno.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 33
Median Home Price: $279,631
Median Annual Salary: $45,210
College Readiness Ranking: 3
Health Ranking: 73
Well-Being Ranking: 122
Crime Ranking: 36
Average Commute Time: 21.4 minutes

Not only do Reno area high schoolers rank third for college readiness out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., but adult residents also benefit from a fairly short morning commute of just 21.4 minutes on average.

Learn more about Reno.

9. Sarasota, Florida

9. Sarasota, Florida

Going toward Downtown Sarasota from from the Ringling Bridge

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 34
Median Home Price: $224,613
Median Annual Salary: $41,870
College Readiness Ranking: 26
Health Ranking: 46
Well-Being Ranking: 6
Crime Ranking: 46
Average Commute Time: 24.1 minutes

Sunny weather and access to beaches certainly make some people happy – and that's the case in Sarasota. The area ranks sixth out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

Learn more about Sarasota.

8. San Jose, California

8. San Jose, California

San Jose California

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 17
Median Home Price: $932,108
Median Annual Salary: $78,990
College Readiness Ranking: 1
Health Ranking: 88
Well-Being Ranking: 53
Crime Ranking: 29
Average Commute Time: 27.3 minutes

Recognized as the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is known for its intelligent, highly educated residents – and their children appear to be following in their footsteps. San Jose is first on the list for college readiness.

Learn more about San Jose.

7. Springfield, Massachusetts

7. Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts skyline along the banks of the Connecticut River

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 59
Median Home Price: $189,958
Median Annual Salary: $50,780
College Readiness Ranking: 39
Health Ranking: 13
Well-Being Ranking: 40
Crime Ranking: 33
Average Commute Time: 22.6 minutes

Located in central southern Massachusetts, Springfield scores best for its access to quality health care, ranking 13th in the category.

Learn more about Springfield.

6. Fayetteville, Arkansas

6. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Houses in a neighborhood in Arkansas

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 5
Median Home Price: $182,508
Median Annual Salary: $44,980
College Readiness Ranking: 36
Health Ranking: 67
Well-Being Ranking: 13
Crime Ranking: 24
Average Commute Time: 21.2 minutes

Fayetteville residents commute just 21.2 minutes to work each morning, on average, which may contribute to their overall satisfaction. Fayetteville also ranks 13th out of the 125 most populous metro areas on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

Learn more about Fayetteville.

5. Grand Rapids, Michigan

5. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aerial shot, looking north, up the Grand River over downtown Grand Rapids.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 12
Median Home Price: $166,608
Median Annual Salary: $43,610
College Readiness Ranking: 22
Health Ranking: 34
Well-Being Ranking: 21
Crime Ranking: 13
Average Commute Time: 21.7 minutes

In Western Michigan, Grand Rapids residents avoid tough traffic with an average morning commute of just 21.7 minutes.

Learn more about Grand Rapids.

4. Santa Barbara, California

4. Santa Barbara, California

Beautiful beach sunset at a pier in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 68
Median Home Price: $464,392
Median Annual Salary: $53,090
College Readiness Ranking: 44
Health Ranking: 24
Well-Being Ranking: 12
Crime Ranking: 30
Average Commute Time: 19.2 minutes

Santa Barbara residents stay close to home for work, which makes their average morning commute just 19.2 minutes, the shortest out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

3. Brownsville

3. Brownsville

Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas, on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 121
Median Home Value: $86,700*
Median Annual Salary: $34,350
College Readiness Ranking: 28
Health Ranking: 97
Well-Being Ranking: N/A
Crime Ranking: 23
Average Commute Time: 20.1 minutes

Although their commute time is not quite as short as those in Santa Barbara, Brownsville residents can’t complain. The morning trip to work in Brownsville takes just 20.1 minutes on average.

Learn more about Brownsville.

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

2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Dutch landscape and cloudy sky in heart of Amish country.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 32
Median Home Price: $179,408
Median Annual Salary: $43,000
College Readiness Ranking: 52
Health Ranking: 1
Well-Being Ranking: 11
Crime Ranking: 5
Average Commute Time: 23.1 minutes

The Lancaster metro area takes the No. 1 spot for its proximity to quality health care, as well as the No. 5 spot for its low rates of murder and property crime.

Learn more about Lancaster.

1. McAllen, Texas

1. McAllen, Texas

McAllen-Hidalgo-Reyneso border bridge, seen from the American side looking into Mexico at night. The bridge connects the city of McAllen, Texas with Reynosa, Mexico across the Rio Grande River.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2018 Ranking: 115
Median Home Value: $128,600*
Median Annual Salary: $34,930
College Readiness Ranking: 7
Health Ranking: 112
Well-Being Ranking: 2
Crime Ranking: 31
Average Commute Time: 21.9 minutes

McAllen is the No. 1 Best Place to Live for Quality of Life, due to its short average commute for residents, overall satisfaction as measured in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index – ranking second – and test scores revealing that the area's high school students rank seventh in the U.S. for college preparedness.

Learn more about McAllen.

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

Read More
AD

Learn 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.