May 17, 2022

"The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023."

The new U.S. News list — topped by Huntsville, Alabama.

Some of the important factors used in this calculation are irrelevant to me — notably the average commute — but I'm really interested in looking for place where we might move. The place to beat is Madison, Wisconsin, which I see U.S. News puts at #17, a notch above Boston and 2 notches above Washington, D.C.

Why not Portland, Maine (#8)? Why not Fayetteville, Arkansas (#7)? Why not Green Bay, Wisconsin (#3!)?

78 comments:

gilbar said...

Huntville has MORE full sized Saturn V rocket mockups, than Any Other city on the list
'nough said

Joe Smith said...

What are you looking for?

If it's a better climate (warmer year around) then that takes the entire East and Northeast off the table.

JPS said...

Huntsville is a neat place. If you get the chance to spend a day (or two) at the US Space and Rocket Center, I recommend it wholeheartedly. It's run by friendly, knowledgeable people. Awesome for kids and adults with any interest at all in the space program.

Beasts of England said...

Or as we call it, Huntsvegas! It’s a gorgeous city, but it’s growing too big, too fast. Glad I moved to the lake ten years ago - the traffic there is ridiculous.

Leland said...

Huntsville is a beautiful place. You have both the Army Redstone Arsenal and the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center bringing in intelligent people while keeping the town employed (on the government dole). There is a good airport there when you want to go far. When you want to stay close, you have short drives to Nashville, Atlanta, and the Florida Panhandle (Pensacola, Ft. Walton, Destin). You do have the occasional nasty tornado, but the winters are a little less than Wisconsin, while being not quite as oppressively hot as living on the gulf coast.

I never been to any of the other places mentioned other than D.C., where I would never want to live.

Zeldyrr said...

Since commute isn't on your list (understandably) what is on your list? Are you looking for someplace with low maintenance? Someplace more rural? Homesteading in Alaska? (Ok, so probably not that last one...)

Angst said...

Speaking from experience - DON'T CONSIDER COLORADO

The weather is horrible
The People are Mean

And despite rumors to the contrary
there really is nothing to do here.


Cheers
Monte

MikeD said...

Outside of obvious political/culture/density problems the obvious no goes for me would be: cold snowy winters and hot humid summers. I currently reside in Kali's Motherlode area which is perfect in all things save the the onerous rules/regulations/taxes coming from fascist state gov.

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

What have they been smoking? Portland, OR as #22? It's become a feces covered wasteland with boarded up shops. Murders are setting new records and the City defunded the police and let Antifa take over. The City is offering sign-on bonuses but no ones is biting, not with the likes of Joanne Hardisty on the City Council.

San Francisco has similar problems, but they don't have the pleasure of Joanne Hardisty's presence.

Achilles said...

Try Madison, Alabama.

It is right next to Huntsville and that is where all the engineers live.

Huntsville is where the people working at the manufacturing plants live.

Of course it may not be a good place to go unless you like to build things.

It is full of icky Trump supporters too.

But the property taxes are medium triple digits a year.

Lewis said...

I moved to Huntsville in 2003. Great place for engineers and scientists as there are many high paying and very interesting jobs. Great outdoor opportunities all around - lakes on the Tennessee river, fishing, hiking, camping and backpacking, and the gulf coast is not too far away. Cost of living and housing is reasonable.

However, it's a very small but growing city so not a lot going on. Just the right size for me. I love the weather except for the tornadoes.

cubanbob said...

The best place is what would be best for you and Meade. Culturally the place should be where you are most comfortable in and the rest is secondary.

wildswan said...

I'd move to a warmer place with low taxes and a beach or mountains; a place closer to one of the great book colleges or great conservative colleges. And I'd want a fairly unspoiled human ecological system and some family nearby. Unfortunately, these requirements don't combine.

Annie C. said...

I actually wanted to see the whole list, but the link took me to a slideshow with 38 slides. I'll have to look elsewhere.

Kai Akker said...

Huntsvillle Alabama is so oughts.

Michael K said...

My younger son has considered Fayetteville. If California schools keep requiring vaccination in schools. his wife may move to Fayetteville for high school for his daughter. They have friends there.

Kai Akker said...

---but I'm really interested in looking for place where we might move.

Then stop looking at dopey advertorial clickbait and go where you've always had a hankering to be. If that doesn't exist, then Meade gets the call. Try a change, it might refresh you. It refreshed us even though rebuilding a social life is difficult.

effinayright said...

Portland, Oregon?

https://fee.org/articles/new-poll-shows-how-riots-have-doomed-downtown-portland/

San Francisco?

SAN FRAN FUCKING Cisco????


"I'll take "Real Estate Bullshit" for $500, Zombie Alex."

readering said...

Which would be bigger contrast with Huntsville, climate or demographics?

Lurker21 said...

Given all the fraud in college ratings, should we assume these lists are on the up and up?

Also, are big cities like Boston or Washington really in the same category as smaller cities like Boulder or Fayetteville? You decide if you want to live in a big city or in a smaller city (or less often in a small town, rural hamlet or resort community) and then you start narrowing it down. If Boulder looks good to you, are you really going to be tempted by San Francisco or Minneapolis? And if you've already decided on Boston, will anything convince you that Fayetteville or Kalamazoo is better?

I wonder who's right about California's cities, US News or all the other news we've been hearing. Is San Francisco or San Jose really that desirable now? Also, what accounts for the difference between places to live and places to retire? Taxes, the cost of living, the weather?

You can see the whole list here, if your time constraints or principles don't allow clicking through endless web pages.

Wa St Blogger said...

These lists are next to useless. They are not totally useless because they tell you a little about what the place is like on some criteria that might be useful to you, but chances are, it ignores maybe half the things that matter and possibly bigger things than the ones they cover. Don’t like bitter cold? Maybe Green Bay is not for you. Can’t stand oppressive humidity, then ignore the south. Need more sunny days, don’t come to Seattle. And that is just the weather. Don’t want liberal moon battery, skip Austin. Don’t want to dodge poop on your walk to the market and don’t eat to pay 800 a month to live in a cubby, skip SF, etc.

madAsHell said...

Seattle was top of the list in 1981......cuz the SST project at Boeing was canceled in 1971, and everyone left town. There were free places to park near Pioneer Square.

Lance said...

Note that Salt Lake City's median home price has risen almost to the level of DC or Boston. So contrary to the article text, Salt Lake City housing is not affordable. Which leads me to distrust the article's other conclusions.

Narr said...

These articles are cheesy as hell. Every place listed had a couple of attributes plucked from the ether to anchor tautologies.

I've been to Huntsville, and been treated royally, but the best thing about Huntsville is that it's close to a lot of other places.

robother said...

Althouse, studiously avoiding Boulder (#4). Green Bay and Portland Maine: its almost like she doesn't want to exchange one liberal university town for another. (Fayetteville Ark., although a university community, is the exception that proves the rule.)

David Begley said...

Des Moines is number 14? That survey is seriously flawed.

Lem said...

And they aren’t even racist.

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Huntsville was: White: 61.34% Black or African American: 30.74%

For people who like to look stuff up.

Donna B. said...

I like living in Huntsville. From what I know of you (only by reading your blog for years), I think you might find Huntsville somewhat strange. It was once described to me as the place where rednecks, hillbillies, and rocket scientists bond over blowing $h!t up. To my delight, they do this twice a year - the 4th of July and New Year's Eve - completely disregarding all city and county laws against fireworks. Fantastic displays and all from my front porch.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Since commute isn't on your list (understandably) what is on your list? Are you looking for someplace with low maintenance? Someplace more rural? Homesteading in Alaska? (Ok, so probably not that last one...)”

Highly aesthetically pleasing.

High quality health care and local government and community.

Excellent architecture.

Natural areas and a real downtown.

Water, trees, flowers…

Ann Althouse said...

Climate-wise, I dislike a long hot summer and I can’t take excessive glaring sun and dryness. I like cooler temperatures and filtered light. Must have some shade and moisture or I can’t be outside more than an hour a day. Would have to become crepuscular.

Freeman Hunt said...

I vote Fayetteville (or Springdale/Rogers/Bentonville). It has that stuff.

Beasts of England said...

’Try Madison, Alabama.

Worst traffic I’ve ever encountered. And flat. But, the baseball team is named the Trash Pandas, so it’s not all bad. :)

Freeman Hunt said...

Fayetteville is full of shade. I spend the entire summer in the shade. Even at the pool!

Beasts of England said...

’ Highly aesthetically pleasing.
High quality health care and local government and community.
Excellent architecture.
Natural areas and a real downtown.
Water, trees, flowers…’


Huntsville has all that in spades. What’s your stance on humidity? And it was 91° today…

David Begley said...

News flash!

Meadehouse moving to Omaha.

Bunkypotatohead said...

I live 40 minutes from Fayetteville, and it has nothing on your list. I can't imagine how it even ended up in that article. The fools who govern it recently started offering a $10k bounty for each diverse, vibrant (read black) entrepreneur who would move there from another state. They're spending a million tax dollars to ruin the place.

Having said that I recently met a nurse who moved there 2 years ago from Wisconsin. She said she couldn't stand the winters anymore.

Kai Akker said...

---Would have to become crepuscular.

Wait! This from the woman who scorned "lambent"?!

Well,all right then, how about Crepuscule with Nellie? Yes....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQLwvJUSa7k

Beasts of England said...

’Climate-wise, I dislike a long hot summer…’

Okay - Alabama is right out. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but Tennessee is a very lovely state. I’d suggest two cities that may match your criteria: Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, and Maryville, near Knoxville. You and Meade could take a little vacation to Maryville and stay at Blackberry Farm. It’s exquisite and y’all would totally dig it. One of my favorite escapes…

Joe Smith said...

'Climate-wise, I dislike a long hot summer and I can’t take excessive glaring sun and dryness. I like cooler temperatures and filtered light. Must have some shade and moisture or I can’t be outside more than an hour a day. Would have to become crepuscular.'

Oregon but not in any big city. Southern Oregon is really beautiful. We loved Ashland (Shakespeare, wine, craft beer, etc.).

Or Mendocino area of CA if you can stand the crazy taxes, which might not be terrible as you're retired...

Kai Akker said...

---Would have to become crepuscular.

Wait! This from the woman who scorned "lambent"?!

Well,all right then, how about Crepuscule with Nellie? Yes....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQLwvJUSa7k

Leland said...

I know Austin is off the list, but there are nice places around Austin. Temple? Waco? San Marcos? However, considering the list of preferences and the most mentioned Huntsville, Al.

I don't know about health care, the local government (but it does have lots of federal employees), and the architecture is awesome if you like looking at rockets.

Otherwise, Huntsville would likely tick all the other boxes with high marks. It definitely has the natural areas, a downtown that can at least hang with Madison, and lots of access to water, trees, and flowers. I found it aesthetically pleasing, but then my tastes are definitely not yours.

Eleanor said...

Boston meets the criteria of everything on your list. But without knowing why you want to leave Madison, it would hard to say whether it would be a better place to live. The ocean moderates both the summer heat and the winter cold. After living in Chicago, Boston felt tropical. Lots of water around. Lots of hiking. Multiple downtowns. Great public transportation. World-class healthcare. A short trip to NYC. Lots of theater, art museums. College communities galore. No nasty MAGA people. But it's expensive to live there.

RJ said...

Two important facts about Portland, ME:

1. Sunset on December 21 is 4:06 PM.
2. Covid moves mean that Portland is even more full of Massh*les.

Richard Aubrey said...

Lots of this stuff presumes the residents live like good little tourists; all Saturday at cutting edge theater and all Sunday at museums. Then gawp at a couple of famous buildings.

Every place has interesting people. Been to Huntsville and the rocket center. Got them to correct a couple of exhibits--I'd been in Air Defense half a century earlier--and the downtown was nice.

Okay. Don't need any more rockets and lots of places have nice downtowns.

Thing is, you get a good job and then go where it is. You don't go someplace really, really expensive and hope to land a job allowing you to make your bills.

Portland and San Francisco, huh? That's some real funny right there.

farmgirl said...

I’d live on the fringes- smaller towns w/in a40 minute commute or so to the desired location.
Of course, I’m thank here.
Architecture. Heh.

I’ve got an Amish built sugarhouse!!

Sebastian said...

Not sure I'd consider the architecture excellent, but Asheville, NC, seems to fit the bill. Anything further south will be too hot.

If I had to move, I'd consider Colorado Springs myself.

Birches said...

Any list that has San Jose, San Francisco or Portland is using a different criteria than I want to follow. Herr, derr the median home price is over a million, but the culture!"

Birches said...

I legitimately hate Colorado. Bunch of DINKs with dogs.

dwshelf said...

Brutally cold winters nor hot humid summers do not seem to be negative factors for that list.

For people who really dislike both, the west coast is pretty much your only choice.

Astoria, OR.
Eureka, CA
Monterey, CA
Santa Barbara, CA

All nice places to live, with a minimum of bad weather days.

Merny11 said...

Ann I have similar criteria - but all the kids and Grandkids are here in WI so it’s where we stay. Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas all appeal to me - we need to st least start leaving for the winter; which this year of course lasted until last week! Ugh ….

Narr said...

Northern AL and Southern Tennessee are the same, as far as summers--long, hot, and humid.

I've been to only a few of the other places listed, and wouldn't care to leave here for any of them.

Except for the cold winters, Madison sounds great.

Beasts of England said...

Stunned at the number of people familiar with Huntsville. Kinda cool…

Fun fact: before it became the Rocket City it was known as the Watercress Capital of the World. And watercress soup is the shizzle!

One more: growing up, my ex-wife’s backyard neighbor was Wehner von Braun. Her neighbor to the left was Oswald Lange, director of guidance and control for the V-2 rocket. Both, ya know, Nazis. Her father flew bombers over Germany during WWII. But, what’s a little world domination amongst neighbors, right? ;)

David Begley said...

Let’s be serious. Ann and Meade will never leave Madison. It is home.

As to me, I’m with Warren Buffett. I’d never move from Omaha. Warren said he’d never move across the river to Iowa even if it had no income tax.

Crimso said...

I live about 40 mi northeast of Huntsville. The area is pretty nice. Not too hot (but close to it), not too cold. Spectacular terrain as you go east and north of Huntsville. Lots of parks and lakes. Good cost of living. Fairly laid back. Y'all should at least check it out if you're serious about moving.

RigelDog said...

Hershey, Pennsylvania. Gorgeous landscape, small town but with a huge Medical center there is also a segment of high end residents. An hour and a half from Philadelphia.

gpm said...

If’s maybe not so much of an issue if your starting point is Madison, but the weather sucks in Boston (where I’ve lived for about fifty years, after growing up in Chicago with similar weather), one place lower on the list. Ditto with Portland, Maine, a couple of places higher. Though the issues aren’t so much the long, hot summers that Althouse objects to. There are hot, humid cycles that Althouse must be familiar with, though they’re much less of an issue up in the mountains in NH. Weatherwise, the west coast may be the only prime candidate, but it’s a hard pass at this point for many other reasons.

Otherwise, I agree with Eleanor that Boston mostly checks the boxes on Althouse’s stated preferences, at least if you’re willing to put up with living in a semi-major city. The other big objection is the expense, especially in terms of housing costs, though real estate taxes are much lower than what Althouse has indicated are the norm in Madison. Even the income taxes aren’t nearly as outrageous as, say, New York and California.

The “natural areas” are perhaps a bit of a mixed bag. There are certainly a number in Boston proper, though perhaps not quite what Althouse enjoys in Madison. There are plenty of others in New England, which may require a bit of a drive. But, really, it’s only 130 miles or so from Boston to my house in the White Mountains, which has all of the natural areas you could wish for.

--gpm

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I have to say that I am really liking Salem, OR. Maybe this spring is unusual -- April was the wettest on record, and there have been several days of rain this month as well -- but the place is one burgeoning mass of green and flowers of every description. There's a public park about 15 minutes' walk from here (I generally spend a couple of an hour or two reading up there in the afternoons). Downtown is smallish but attractive. North Salem is grottier than South, which is where I live. It's essentially flat and laid out with major arteries and strip malls. Meanwhile West Salem is in a different county, and much newer than anything here.

Winter is fairly nasty. After 25 years in the SF Bay Area, you'd be astonished what 600 miles or so northward does to your daylight. I didn't know that Seasonal Affective Disorder was even a thing. OTOH, when I say "nasty," I'm talking darkness and wet, not snowy. Apart from the huge ice storm in 2021, where power was out for a week and hundreds of large trees were toppled, there is very rarely more than an odd sprinkle of snow. Though drivers are uniformly incompetent at driving in it.

I share several others' impressions that Portland and SF belong nowhere near this list. SF has pretty places in it, and a very nice City Hall -- one of Willie Brown's signature accomplishments as mayor was getting the dome re-gilded -- but it's filthy and needle-strewn, and what ought to be downtown is Market St., one long block after another of boarded-up and deserted businesses. Portland (OR, not ME) is worse. It is a good place to have somewhere fairly nearby, so you can avail yourself of Powell's Books and a few good restaurants, but Salem (about an hour away) is an infinitely better place to live. Ashland is also very nice, as someone said above; so's Eugene, and Bend.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I have to say that I am really liking Salem, OR. Maybe this spring is unusual -- April was the wettest on record, and there have been several days of rain this month as well -- but the place is one burgeoning mass of green and flowers of every description. There's a public park about 15 minutes' walk from here (I generally spend a couple of an hour or two reading up there in the afternoons). Downtown is smallish but attractive. North Salem is grottier than South, which is where I live. It's essentially flat and laid out with major arteries and strip malls. Meanwhile West Salem is in a different county, and much newer than anything here.

Winter is fairly nasty. After 25 years in the SF Bay Area, you'd be astonished what 600 miles or so northward does to your daylight. I didn't know that Seasonal Affective Disorder was even a thing. OTOH, when I say "nasty," I'm talking darkness and wet, not snowy. Apart from the huge ice storm in 2021, where power was out for a week and hundreds of large trees were toppled, there is very rarely more than an odd sprinkle of snow. Though drivers are uniformly incompetent at driving in it.

I share several others' impressions that Portland and SF belong nowhere near this list. SF has pretty places in it, and a very nice City Hall -- one of Willie Brown's signature accomplishments as mayor was getting the dome re-gilded -- but it's filthy and needle-strewn, and what ought to be downtown is Market St., one long block after another of boarded-up and deserted businesses. Portland (OR, not ME) is worse. It is a good place to have somewhere fairly nearby, so you can avail yourself of Powell's Books and a few good restaurants, but Salem (about an hour away) is an infinitely better place to live. Ashland is also very nice, as someone said above; so's Eugene, and Bend.

Randomizer said...

Listing Portland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. as desirable places to live invalidates the article. Many other cities on the list, like the good Portland, are quite appealing.

farmgirl said...

Sometimes, when I read my comments again in perspective of everyone else- I wonder what word I had used or thought I’d used before autocorrect got ahold of it. It’s because I’m in a hurry, and didn’t realize I could make the font bigger-

I think I’d meant: I’m thankful to be where I am. My older city friend, who loves to travel and can get in her car and go(anywhere!!!) teases me and actually the whole of people like me in our locale- for being close-minded or maybe she means small-brained. I get a tad riled about that, yes- but, we’re happy.

“All you know is the Kingdom(the name of this part of VT)” & I think: yep. Thank the good Lord.

Althouse, w/your camper you can explore areas you might like better. Find a nice lake in your heart’s desired location and go walk it. Take a sunrise picture and see how it feels. What people put down in print… isn’t always believable until you check it out for yoursel(ves):0)

farmgirl said...

N

rastajenk said...

College towns and big cities...harrumph...who needs 'em.

For quality of life metrics, try Lebanon OH. Or Loveland.

Ernest said...

Ann, consider Lexington, Kentucky. Mild winters, lots of greenery, not horribly humid like the deep South. We have the University of Kentucky here, so some interesting restaurants and cultural activity. Then there's the thing here about horses and bourbon . . .

iowan2 said...

Agree with others. Those making the list, puts the metrics in serious doubt.

I see Des Moines, makes 14th, Low end of $housing, compared to the rest. DM is 30 minutes to Ames, Great colleges, Vet, Agriculture, food science, engineering. Competing well in the Big 12. Hour to Iowa City, University of IA. DM has Drake College, Drake Relays, Hamilton is in town this year. Triple A Iowa Cubs with a great stadium. You go to a Wed afternoon game, like we are today, and a good chance to see the same player in Chicago, on Saturday. Extensive bike trails and more links being built constantly. No oceans or mountains. Iowa leads the nation in golf holes per 100K.
We can go for a week or better and the temperature will never get in positive digits.

I wouldn't visit San Francisco if you bought us tickets, and paid for our room.

baghdadbob said...

One half hour North of Charlotte -- the 15th largest city in the country -- is Mooresville, NC. The part of town on or near Lake Norman is upscale (if a bit Trumpy), the weather is great (one or two snowfalls during the brief winter), and lake living is enjoyable. Nearby Charlotte should satisfy most of your big-city urges, and even more nearby Davidson should satisfy your lefty liberal arts college town urges. The mountains and the ocean are both an easy drive away, 1 1/2 hours, and 3 1/2 hours, respectively.

Robert Cook said...

Jacksonville, FL? Yeesh!

Or perhaps this is just a case of familiarity having bred distaste.

retail lawyer said...

Nobody mentions the homeless situation, except indirectly regarding Portland and SF. Its the first thing I consider. It really detracts from parks, downtowns, and walkability. It is omnipresent throughout California, and seems to be dense along bikepaths throughout the West.

Freeman Hunt said...

I think it's strange that New York has a reputation for being rude. I live in the most polite place I've ever been. This has ruined me for almost every other place. New York is not rude. It's at least in the 90th percentile for politeness and friendliness nationwide. Its reputation as a rude place is totally undeserved.

GRW3 said...

I spent a bunch of time in Huntsville working on an Army aviation project. It's a nice place. Because of NASA and the Army's Redstone Arsenal and Aviation commands, the city is well educated. One of the best things was that in their Books'a'Million bookstore they have separate Science Fiction and Fantasy sections (I find it aggravating that most combine them).

Jim at said...

Any list of best places to live without including the weather are non-starters.

Leland said...

Sometimes, when I read my comments again in perspective of everyone else- I wonder what word I had used or thought I’d used before autocorrect got ahold of it. It’s because I’m in a hurry

This... daily.

mikee said...

My college years were spent only 100 miles from home. I was dragged into family conflicts every time I came home for a weekend. Grad school was 800 miles from home. It was as if I ceased to exist for my family, as far as squabbling went. They left me out of it.

I've never since lived closer than 250 miles away from my relatives, and have greatly increased the happiness in my life by maintaining this distance.

Something to consider, if your family likes to play silly games.

Paul said...

The whole list is one f*cking joke.

rastajenk said...

Listen to Ernest. He knows what he's talking about.

Jupiter said...

Maybe you should shuffle off to Buffalo. I hear they've got killer diversity.

heyboom said...

David Begley said:

Des Moines is number 14? That survey is seriously flawed.

Hey, I'm in Des Moines right now visiting family and I would seriously consider moving from California to here.

heyboom said...

@iowan2:

Don't forget the museums, botanical gardens and the zoo.

Robin Goodfellow said...

San Jose, California is listed as the 5th best place to live in the US.

News flash: San Jose isn’t the 5th best place to live in the Bay Area, let alone the entire US. It’s hot as hell, crowded, has severe traffic, and extremely expensive. It has lousy, over-priced restaurants. It’s far from the beach.