Houston drops 12 spots in annual ranking of best places to live in the U.S.

Houston (Pixabay)

U.S. News & World Report unveiled its “2021-22 Best Places to Live in the United States” list July 13, and, well Houstonians, this year’s ranking are a smidge tough to swallow: The Bayou City fell significantly, receiving a ranking of No. 39 this year -- 12 spots lower than the area’s No. 27 ranking in 2020.

The new list evaluated the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on factors like affordability, job prospects and desirability, according to a release.

For the second consecutive year, Boulder, Colorado ranked No. 1, due to high quality of life, job market and desirability scores. Boulder was followed by Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, at No. 2; Huntsville, Alabama, at No. 3; and Fayetteville, Arkansas, at No. 4.

“This year we’re looking at how the most populous metro areas in the U.S. fared for much of the coronavirus pandemic, and seeing how far they’ll need to come to recover,” said Devon Thorsby, U.S. News real estate editor, in a release. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”

On the bright side, U.S. News did rank the Houston area the third-best place to live in Texas, behind Austin (ranked fifth overall) and the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area (ranked 37 overall). U.S. News also ranked Houston No. 22 in the subcategory Best Places to Retire.

“A paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major metro areas, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions like biking along Buffalo Bayou and exploring the 7,800-acre George Bush Park,” U.S. News’ assessment of the Houston area reads. “The affordability of this region, which is located in southeastern Texas and home to nearly 7 million residents in the metro area, is attracting new people from across the country and around the world.”

It’s worth noting that the Houston area wasn’t the only Texas locale that tumbled down the list this go-around.

A rising cost of living contributed to Austin’s drop from No. 3 in 2020 to No. 5 in 2021.

“Housing affordability is always of great concern, but as people solidify their plans to work remotely, struggle to find a house in a hot housing market or consider a cross-country move, a low cost of living is even more important,” said Thorsby.

Meanwhile, Dallas-Fort Worth, ranked No. 24 last year, fell several slots, coming in at No. 37 this year while San Antonio, ranked No. 40 in 2020 plummeted to No. 75 this year.

2021-2022 U.S. News Best Places to Live – Top 25

1. Boulder, CO

2. Raleigh & Durham, NC

3. Huntsville, AL

4. Fayetteville, AR

5. Austin, TX

6. Colorado Springs, CO

7. Naples, FL

8. Portland, ME

9. Sarasota, FL

10. Portland, OR

11. Boise, ID

12. Ann Arbor, MI

13. Des Moines, IA

14. Denver, CO

15. San Francisco, CA

16. Madison, WI

17. Fort Collins, CO

18. Melbourne, FL

19. Seattle, WA

20. Charlotte, NC

21. Green Bay, WI

22. Jacksonville, FL

23. Salt Lake City, UT

24. Spartanburg, SC

25. Omaha, NE

*See the full ranking here.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.