U.S. News & World Report Unveils the 2020-2021 Best Places to Live, Best Places to Retire Rankings

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today unveiled the 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire in the United States. The new lists evaluate the country's 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and desirability.

Boulder, CO debuted on the Best Places to Live list ranking at No. 1, while Denver, CO held at No. 2, and Austin, TX fell from the top spot to No. 3. On Best Places to Retire, Florida metro areas took a majority (13) of the top 25 rankings and swept the top three: Sarasota moved up a spot to No. 1, followed by Fort Myers at No. 2, and Port St. Lucie landed at No. 3.

Metro areas that ranked in the top 25 of both 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire include Charlotte, NC; Sarasota, FL; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; and Nashville, TN. Ann Arbor, MI and Naples, FL, which debuted in the rankings this year, also placed in the top 25 for places to live and retire.

"After a prolonged period of staying at home, people are taking a critical look at where they live, and many are looking to find a place they can feel happier, afford more or pursue new opportunities," said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. "The Best Places rankings can help people examine the details they consider important in a larger community as they seek a house with a bigger yard or a spot that makes it easier for the whole family to quarantine safely together."

This year, U.S. News increased the number of metropolitan areas evaluated for both sets of rankings from 125 to 150, to provide a broader and more accurate reflection of where Americans can live and retire.


A common feature among many of the top 25 Best Places to Live is the prominence of engineering and technology as a choice career field for many. Austin, TX (No. 3), San Francisco, CA (No. 10) and Huntsville, AL (No. 15) are popular destinations for young and established professionals alike for offering job markets heavy in technology, aerospace and engineering. Metro areas with colleges well-known for their engineering programs also made the list, such as Colorado Springs, CO (No. 4), Ann Arbor, MI (debuting at No. 12) and Boulder, CO. Boulder debuted in the rankings this year and catapulted to No. 1 due to its strong Desirability, Quality of Life and Job Market scores.

"At the top of this year's Best Places to Live rankings, we see a combination of metro areas that can appeal to people looking for city living or more of a small-town atmosphere, but all offer a balance between cost and quality of living," Thorsby said.

The pandemic and civil unrest may have also had an impact on how people perceive some areas. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN dropped from No. 6 in 2019 to No. 22, and New York City fell 31 spots to No. 121 - primarily due to significant drops in Desirability scores for both metro areas.

The 2020-2021 Best Places to Live were determined based on a methodology that factored in job market, housing affordability, quality of life, desirability and net migration ratings. They were determined in part using a public survey of thousands of individuals throughout the U.S. to find out what qualities they consider important in a place to live. The methodology also factors in data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals.

2020-2021 U.S. News Best Places to Live - Top 10
*See the full rankings here.

1. Boulder, CO
2. Denver, CO
3. Austin, TX
4. Colorado Springs, CO
5. Fort Collins, CO
6. Charlotte, NC
7. Des Moines, IA
8. Fayetteville, AR
9. Portland, OR
10. San Francisco, CA


This year's 25 Best Places to Retire is dominated by Florida metro areas, largely due to affordable homes, low taxes and high ratings for happiness and desirability. Increases in Desirability and Job Market scores lifted Sarasota from No. 2 last year to overtake Fort Myers for the No. 1 spot for 2020-2021. And while Port. St. Lucie's Housing Affordability score slightly decreased, increases in Desirability, Job Market and Health Care scores helped it jump two places to No. 3. Miami, FL also saw a decrease in Housing Affordability but still broke into the top 10 this year, jumping five places to No. 9 thanks to Desirability and Job Market score increases. The top 25 places to retire also includes three Texas communities, and two places each in Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee.

"Moving to a new place for retirement can reduce your cost of living and improve your quality of life," said Emily Brandon, U.S. News senior editor for retirement. "The Best Places to Retire includes information about housing costs, access to quality hospitals and the strength of the job market, which can help you find a retirement spot that will meet your needs."

The 2020-2021 Best Places to Retire were determined based on a methodology that factored in happiness, housing affordability, health care quality, retiree taxes, desirability and job market ratings. These measures were weighted based on a public survey of individuals across the U.S. who are nearing retirement age (ages 45-59) and those who are of retirement age (60 or older) to find out what matters most when considering where to retire. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as U.S. News rankings of the Best Hospitals.

2020-2021 U.S. News Best Places to Retire - Top 10
*See the full rankings here.

1. Sarasota, FL
2. Fort Myers, FL
3. Port St. Lucie, FL
4. Naples, FL
5. Lancaster, PA
6. Ocala, FL
7. Ann Arbor, MI
8. Asheville, NC
9. Miami, FL
10. Melbourne, FL

For more information on Best Places to Live or Best Places to Retire, explore Facebook and Twitter using #BestPlaces and #BestPlacesToRetire.

About U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. A digital news and information company focused on Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars and News, USNews.com provides consumer advice, rankings and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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SOURCE U.S. News & World Report