Phoenix Ranked 40th Best Place to Live of 150 Biggest Metropolitan Areas


U.S. News & World Report issued its list this week of the annual best places to live, and Phoenix came in at No. 40 of the 150 most populous metro areas. The city jumped up 13 places from last year. The report emphasized Phoenix’s relatively low cost of living, warm weather, and thriving job market. The rankings are based on quality of life, job market, value of living, and desire of people to live there.

Phoenix may have scored well this year due to a stable economy. Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, said in a news 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.”

Factors the survey takes into consideration include average salary and unemployment rate. The unemployment rate in Phoenix is 6.7%, not significantly higher than the national average of 5.9%. The average salary is $52,330, slightly lower than the national average of $53,490.

Phoenix regularly tops lists of the most popular cities people move to. United Van Lines, which ranks metropolitan areas with over 50,000 people, placed Phoenix at No. 14 in 2020. No city with a larger population scored that high.

Despite its large size, 4,761,603 in the metro area, Phoenix boasts a lower cost of living than the national average. Similarly, despite its size and lack of substantial public transportation, the average work commute is less than the national average at 26.8 minutes.

Due to its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, crime rates in Phoenix are slightly higher than the national average, by less than one percent. However, Phoenix suburbs Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Chandler have some of the lowest crime rates in the country. According to AreaVibes, Gilbert ranks No. 3 among cities with over 200,000 people, Scottsdale ranks No. 7, and Chandler comes in at No. 10.

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport usually ranks No. 1 for best airport in the country among mega airports.

Phoenix scored 6.8 on U.S. News’ 10-point scale. That ranking broke down as follows:

 – Job market: 6.8
– Value: 6.6
– Quality of life: 6.1
– Desirability: 7.3
– Net migration: 7.8

The top five places to live in the rankings are:

 1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
3. Huntsville, Alabama
4. Fayetteville, Arkansas
5. Austin, Texas

Boulder made No. 1 for the second year in a row due to high quality of life, a robust job market, and high desirability scores.

The lowest scoring areas are:

 150. San Juan, Puerto Rico
151. Visalia, California
152. Bakersfield, California
153. Stockton, California
154. Modesto, California
155. Shreveport, Louisiana

San Juan scored low due to a lower relative value — energy bills are high — hurricanes and flooding.

A similar ranking done this year by Niche placed two other Arizona cities in its list of best places to live with over 100,000 people. Scottsdale came in at No. 27 and Tempe, home to Arizona State University, at No. 46. Both are part of the Phoenix metropolitan area, known as the Valley. Niche ranked Scottsdale the No. 1 place in the country to retire.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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