The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life in 2019

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

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |April 19, 2019, at 4:51 p.m.

The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life in 2019

Slideshow

Taking your quality of life into account

Aerial view of residential neighborhood with view to the mountains.

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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 has compiled information on these important aspects of a top-notch place to Live. Read on for the 25 metro areas that scored highest across all five categories.

25. Springfield, Massachusetts

25. Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield is a city in western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 86
Median Home Price: $199,650
College Readiness Ranking: 39
Health Ranking: 13
Well-Being Ranking: 97
Crime Ranking: 30
Average Commute Time: 22.8 minutes

Located in western Massachusetts, Springfield scores best for its access to quality health care, ranking 13th in the category. The health care score is based on information from the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings.

Learn more about Springfield.

24. Syracuse, New York

24. Syracuse, New York

Syracuse -  New York - Downtown

Upstate New York

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 54
Median Home Price: $132,500
College Readiness Ranking: 41
Health Ranking: 17
Well-Being Ranking: 91
Crime Ranking: 37
Average Commute Time: 21.2 minutes

This upstate New York metro area ranks 17th for its proximity to quality health care options.

Learn more about Syracuse.

23. Manchester, New Hampshire

23. Manchester, New Hampshire

Manchester is the largest city in the state of New Hampshire and the largest city in northern New England. Manchester is known for its industrial heritage, riverside mills, affordability, and arts & cultural destination.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 43
Median Home Price: $234,097
College Readiness Ranking: 73
Health Ranking: 9
Well-Being Ranking: 35
Crime Ranking: 2
Average Commute Time: 27.9 minutes

Manchester ranks second out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its low property crime and murder rates.

Learn more about Manchester.

22. Lansing, Michigan

22. Lansing, Michigan

Lansing is the capital of the U.S. state of Michigan

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 41
Median Home Price: $136,342
College Readiness Ranking: 72
Health Ranking: 8
Well-Being Ranking: 67
Crime Ranking: 47
Average Commute Time: 21.2 minutes

Michigan’s capital has ample nearby health care options for residents, as well as the 11th-shortest commute out the 125 places on the list.

Learn more about Lansing.

21. Hartford, Connecticut

21. Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut, USA downtown cityscape.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 47
Median Home Price: $215,542
College Readiness Ranking: 16
Health Ranking: 19
Well-Being Ranking: 72
Crime Ranking: 38
Average Commute Time: 23.9 minutes

Hartford’s highest score in the Quality of Life category is in college readiness, where it ranks No. 16. College readiness is based on test scores from area public high school students, which are part of the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings data.

Learn more about Hartford.

20. Boise, Idaho

20. Boise, Idaho

Autumn trees and Boise Idaho skyline

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 17
Median Home Price: $221,475
College Readiness Ranking: 65
Health Ranking: 117
Well-Being Ranking: 44
Crime Ranking: 4
Average Commute Time: 22 minutes

Located in a less populated part of the country, Boise doesn’t rank high for its proximity to high-ranking hospitals and health care centers, but its low property crime and murder rates secure it the fourth spot in the crime category.

Learn more about Boise.

19. Albany, New York

19. Albany, New York

Reflections of the New York State Capitol building and The Egg Performing Arts CenterMore Albany Images

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 28
Median Home Price: $201,533
College Readiness Ranking: 49
Health Ranking: 21
Well-Being Ranking: 49
Crime Ranking: 10
Average Commute Time: 23.1 minutes

Albany also sees particularly low property crime and murder rates, where it ranks 10th out of the 125 places on the list.

Learn more about Albany.

18. El Paso, Texas

18. El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 110
Median Home Price: $151,300
College Readiness Ranking: 45
Health Ranking: 123
Well-Being Ranking: 5
Crime Ranking: 14
Average Commute Time: 23.4 minutes

El Paso scores fifth out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which asks residents how they feel about their hometown.

Learn more about El Paso.

17. Austin, Texas

17. Austin, Texas

Weekends finds Austin, Texas 6th Avenue closed to cars, allowing foot traffic to easily come and go from the city nightlife, bars, and clubs.  Horizontal, long exposure image.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 1
Median Home Price: $292,500
College Readiness Ranking: 7
Health Ranking: 100
Well-Being Ranking: 28
Crime Ranking: 23
Average Commute Time: 26.8 minutes

The No. 1 Best Place to Live in 2019 is a particularly strong area for high school students. Test scores indicate that Austin’s high schoolers rank seventh for college readiness out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Austin.

16. Melbourne, Florida

16. Melbourne, Florida

The Eau Gallie Causeway is a bridge leading from the mainland of Melbourne, Florida to the barrier island and the beaches.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 25
Median Home Price: $198,425
College Readiness Ranking: 4
Health Ranking: 38
Well-Being Ranking: 53
Crime Ranking: 49
Average Commute Time: 24.5 minutes

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

Learn more about Melbourne.

15. Reno, Nevada

15. Reno, Nevada

Reno, USA - May 31, 2016: Reno, known as The Biggest Little City in the World, is famous for it's casinos, and is the birthplace of the gaming corporation Harrah's Entertainment.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 33
Median Home Price: $351,500
College Readiness Ranking: 3
Health Ranking: 54
Well-Being Ranking: 88
Crime Ranking: 54
Average Commute Time: 21.4 minutes

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

Learn more about Reno.

14. Rochester, New York

14. Rochester, New York

Autumn leaves with colorful trees in Rochester City of New York.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 58
Median Home Price: $135,042
College Readiness Ranking: 17
Health Ranking: 32
Well-Being Ranking: 64
Crime Ranking: 32
Average Commute Time: 21.3 minutes

In Rochester, residents spend less time going to work – just 21.3 minutes, on average – ranking 13th in the category.

Learn more about Rochester.

13. Sarasota, Florida

13. Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 18
Median Home Price: $237,260
College Readiness Ranking: 19
Health Ranking: 46
Well-Being Ranking: 1
Crime Ranking: 34
Average Commute Time: 24.5 minutes

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

Learn more about Sarasota.

12. Fayetteville, Arkansas

12. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Red two story condos in Fayetteville Arkansas with a blue sky and green grass.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 4
Median Home Price: $177,942
College Readiness Ranking: 35
Health Ranking: 68
Well-Being Ranking: 29
Crime Ranking: 20
Average Commute Time: 21.1 minutes

Fayetteville residents commute just 21.1 minutes to work each morning, on average, which is the eighth-shortest commute out of the 125 metro areas on the list.

Learn more about Fayetteville.

11. Madison, Wisconsin

11. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, USA downtown skyline at dusk on Lake Monona.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 12
Median Home Price: $247,967
College Readiness Ranking: 38
Health Ranking: 22
Well-Being Ranking: 36
Crime Ranking: 11
Average Commute Time: 21.7 minutes

Madison’s best score contributing to the Quality of Life rankings is for crime, where the Wisconsin capital ranks 11th for low murder and property crime rates.

Learn more about Madison.

10. Santa Rosa, California

10. Santa Rosa, California

Santa Rosa, vineyard

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 74
Median Home Price: $629,917
College Readiness Ranking: 29
Health Ranking: 29
Well-Being Ranking: 2
Crime Ranking: 8
Average Commute Time: 25.2 minutes

This metro area in the heart of California wine country scores well for low murder and property crime rates, ranking eighth in the category.

Learn more about Santa Rosa.

9. San Diego

9. San Diego

San Diego downtown skyline at sunrise with boat in harbor.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 36
Median Home Price: $555,325
College Readiness Ranking: 10
Health Ranking: 98
Well-Being Ranking: 10
Crime Ranking: 12
Average Commute Time: 25.7 minutes

San Diego takes the No. 10 spot in both the college ranking and well-being categories, followed by its rank at No. 12 for crime rates.

Learn more about San Diego.

8. Asheville, North Carolina

8. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina is the best place to travel alone

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 16
Median Home Price: $248,500
College Readiness Ranking: 42
Health Ranking: 18
Well-Being Ranking: 9
Crime Ranking: 29
Average Commute Time: 21.2 minutes

Since this metro area is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville residents don’t have much traffic to worry about, with an average morning commute of just 21.2 minutes.

Learn more about Asheville.

7. Portland, Maine

7. Portland, Maine

Carnival Cruise Line is one of the best fall family vacations

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 23
Median Home Price: $223,367
College Readiness Ranking: 37
Health Ranking: 39
Well-Being Ranking: 6
Crime Ranking: 1
Average Commute Time: 24.8 minutes

This New England metro area has the lowest property crime and murder rates, based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Learn more about Portland.

6. Brownsville, Texas

6. Brownsville, Texas

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.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 116
Median Home Price: $90,400*
College Readiness Ranking: 23
Health Ranking: 97
Well-Being Ranking: N/A
Crime Ranking: 16
Average Commute Time: 20.2 minutes

The morning commute in Brownsville isn’t the shortest on the list, but residents certainly aren’t complaining. The morning trip to work takes just 20.2 minutes on average.

Learn more about Brownsville.

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

5. McAllen, Texas

5. McAllen, Texas

McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the twenty-second most populous city in Texas.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 112
Median Home Value: $102,400*
College Readiness Ranking: 6
Health Ranking: 112
Well-Being Ranking: 13
Crime Ranking: 52
Average Commute Time: 21.9 minutes

High school students in McAllen achieve high test scores, helping the Texas metro area rank sixth for college readiness.

Learn more about McAllen.

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

4. San Jose, California

4. San Jose, California

San Jose, United States - August 6, 2012: Downtown San Jose scene in summer with people playing around fountains with the Fairmont Hotel (center) and the Knight Ridder building (to the left) in the background.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 14
Median Home Price: $1,080,017
College Readiness Ranking: 1
Health Ranking: 87
Well-Being Ranking: 17
Crime Ranking: 21
Average Commute Time: 28.2 minutes

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.

3. Grand Rapids, Michigan

3. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids Michigan skyline along the banks of the Grand river.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 13
Median Home Price: $181,533
College Readiness Ranking: 24
Health Ranking: 33
Well-Being Ranking: 12
Crime Ranking: 17
Average Commute Time: 21.8 minutes

In western Michigan, Grand Rapids residents avoid tough traffic with an average morning commute of just 21.8 minutes.

Learn more about Grand Rapids.

2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Cityscape of Northwestern Lancaster, PA shot from bird's eye view

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 48
Median Home Price: $196,025
College Readiness Ranking: 51
Health Ranking: 1
Well-Being Ranking: 7
Crime Ranking: 13
Average Commute Time: 23.1 minutes

The Lancaster metro area ranks first for its proximity to quality health care and takes the No. 7 spot for its low rates of murder and property crime.

Learn more about Lancaster.

1. Santa Barbara, California

1. Santa Barbara, California

Two women stand on a pier in Santa Barbara, California next to a pair of bikes.

Getty Images/Aurora Open

Best Places 2019 Rank: 73
Median Home Price: $463,750
College Readiness Ranking: 53
Health Ranking: 24
Well-Being Ranking: 3
Crime Ranking: 7
Average Commute Time: 19.4 minutes

Santa Barbara residents stay close to home for work, which makes their average morning commute just 19.4 minutes, the shortest out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

Here are the Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life:

Here are the Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life:

USA, Florida, Stuart, Aerial view of suburbs

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  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • San Jose, California
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Portland, Maine
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • San Diego
  • Santa Rosa, California

See full rankings.

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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