News & Media

Charlotte Jumps Back into Top 10 on US News’ ‘Best Places to Live’ Ranking

By Jenna Martin – Managing Editor, Digital , Charlotte Business Journal
May 16, 2023

The Charlotte metro has jumped back into the top 10 on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of the nation’s best places to live.

Charlotte placed at No. 8 — up 22 spots from its ranking at No. 30 in 2022. That represented the largest top-10 jump this year, U.S. News said. The last time Charlotte ranked within the top 10 was in 2020, when it took the No. 6 spot.

Raleigh-Durham also moved up in the rankings, landing at No 3. It ranked at No. 6 in 2022.

U.S. News released its 2023-2024 Best Places to Live list this morning. The rankings measure the nation’s 150 largest metro areas on quality of life (36% weight), value (23%), desirability (22%) and job market (19%). It pulled outside data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Atlanta health and wellness company Sharecare (NASDAQ: SHCR), Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service.

U.S. News made a few tweaks to its methodology this year, which included adding a price review of general goods in a particular location compared to the national average. That data point was added to its value index, expanding the assessment of a place’s affordability beyond housing costs. It also folded net migration into its desirability index.

Green Bay, Wisconsin, was named the overall top U.S. metro to live in the newest rankings. It unseated Huntsville, Alabama, which moved into the No. 2 spot. The top 10 was rounded out, respectively, by Raleigh-Durham; Boulder, Colorado; Sarasota, Florida; Naples, Florida; Portland, Maine; Charlotte; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Why Charlotte jumped in ranking

The biggest reason Charlotte rose in the ranks was due to its desirability, said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. The desirability index includes factors such as weather temperateness, number of leisure establishments and attractions compared to a place’s population, net migration and a survey asking people where they’d prefer to live.

Charlotte ranked ninth for desirability, due in particular to the survey responses and population growth from net migration, Thorsby said.

Charlotte performed well but not as close to the top in other categories, she added. The area’s average monthly unemployment rate came in below the national rate, while the average salary was roughly on par with the national figure. As for affordability, Charlotte fell among the less expensive half of metros on the list.

“The fact that so many people hail the Charlotte area as a desirable place to live, and then the fact that they’re acting on that desire, says a lot about livability,” Thorsby said. “Like with any major metro area that’s seeing a lot of growth, there’s always room for improvement, and Charlotte may experience a rising cost of living or other growing pains. But compared with many other parts of the U.S., Charlotte remains affordable and is a large metro area already, able to accommodate a variety of incomes, needs and wants of people who live there already or will in the near future.”

How did other metros in Carolinas fare?

In addition to Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, six more metros in the Carolinas ranked in the top 50. They are: Myrtle Beach, No. 18; Hickory, No. 25; Asheville, No. 29; Greenville, South Carolina, No. 31; Winston-Salem, No. 41; and Spartanburg, No. 43. The Hickory metro, about 57 miles northwest of Charlotte, moved up from No. 31 last year.

Charleston came in next at No. 53. It was followed by Greensboro, No. 72; Columbia, No. 92; and Fayetteville, No. 135.