Austin Reclaims Top 10 Spot in U.S. News 'Best Places to Live' Rankings

Austin Reclaims Top 10 Spot in U.S. News 'Best Places to Live' Rankings

Austin Business Journal
Bob Sechler


Austin has re-entered the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report's esteemed list of the 150 "best places to live," a list it previously dominated. After experiencing a decline since 2020, Austin has now climbed to No. 9, up from No. 40 in 2023. This rise is partly due to a revised methodology that now ranks cities instead of entire metro areas, causing significant changes in the list.

This year, the strength of local job markets had a greater influence on the rankings. The list evaluates cities based on various factors such as job market, quality of life, and housing affordability, with public input guiding the annual re-weighting. Erika Giovanetti, a loans expert and reporter at U.S. News & World Report, noted that Austin's strong job market, characterized by low unemployment and relatively high salaries, was a key factor in its improved ranking.

The shift to focus on cities rather than metro areas led to considerable movement in the rankings, making year-over-year comparisons difficult. The change aimed to provide a more localized perspective and eventually include more cities in the ranking, though it resulted in notable shifts this year.

Historically, the Austin metro area dominated the U.S. News & World Report ranking, securing the No. 1 spot from 2017 to 2019. It fell out of the top 10 in 2022, ranking 14th, and dropped further last year. The high cost of housing has been a significant factor in Austin's decline in recent years. However, public surveys for the 2024 list indicated that the economy was a primary concern, leading to a greater emphasis on local job markets.

Austin and its metro area boast extremely low unemployment rates, with the city's rate at 2.9% in April (unadjusted for seasonal factors) and the metro rate at 3%. These figures do not yet reflect recent layoffs, such as the 2,700 jobs cut at Tesla Inc.'s Travis County factory in mid-April. Despite these layoffs, Austin's tight labor market suggests that new employment opportunities are likely to arise for those affected.

Recent U.S. Census Bureau data estimated Austin's population at 979,882 in 2023, a 0.5% increase from the previous year, dropping it from the 10th to the 11th most populous city in the U.S., just behind Jacksonville, Florida.

Austin ranked No. 9 overall on the U.S. News & World Report list this year, leading other Texas cities. The top Texas cities included McAllen, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville. Nationally, the top 10 "best places to live" are as follows:

1. Naples, Florida
2. Boise, Idaho
3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
4. Greenville, South Carolina
5. Charlotte, North Carolina
6. Raleigh, North Carolina
7. Huntsville, Alabama
8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
9. Austin, Texas
10. Boulder, Colorado

Source from: B. Sechler (2024). Austin Business Journal. Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2024/05/21/best-places-to-live-in-america-austin.html

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