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Austin tops the U.S. News & World Report rankings for the third year in a row.
“People are drawn to the Texas capital's music, outdoor spaces and cultural institutions,” the rankings say, though the city’s popularity comes with a price. There has been a rise in the cost of living, with a median home price ($292,500) well above the national average ($226,500).
The rankings, released annually, evaluate the country’s largest 125 metro areas based on a number of criteria, including job prospects, cost of living, crime and education. They are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Census, among other sources. Each city receives an overall score as well as separate scores for value, the job market, quality of life, net migration and desirability.
Denver (2) and Colorado Springs (3) swapped places from last year’s rankings, largely due to migration patterns. Fayetteville (4) boasts a low cost of living and “strong population growth,” while Des Moines has sustained job-market growth.
San Francisco moved 13 spots from last year’s ranking to land at 7th, thanks largely to its high desirability score (fourth out of all 125 cities). Asheville, N.C. jumped eight notches to 16th, while Sarasota, Fla. landed at 18th after ranking 34th last year, mostly due to its population growth—the city is the third-fastest growing metro area on the list.
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.