Dewey-eyed dreamers have been drawn to the glitz and the glam of life in the big city for decades. But with the overwhelming number of choices, which are the best large metropolises to live in?
To arrive at these conclusions, WalletHub compared 62 of the largest U.S. cities with a population over 300,000, ranking them on 56 metrics across five categories. They were affordability (including housing affordability and annual property taxes), economy, education and health, quality of life, and safety.
So what makes ultraexpensive Seattle the big city to be in? Well, Amazon and Starbucks are headquartered there, along with a slew of startups. The city has one of the highest income growth rates and an abundance of job opportunities, says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.
Seattle residents tend to make good money with high median annual household incomes, and the population is booming as more folks are moving in.
“For young folks in the tech industry, the sky’s the limit,” says Marlow Harris, a Seattle-based real estate broker. “We have a very low unemployment rate in all sectors, even for those without a college education.”
Seattle wasn’t the only large city in the West to get high marks from WalletHub. More than half of the top 10 were in the region, including San Francisco (No. 4); San Diego (No. 5); Honolulu (No. 6); Portland, OR (No. 7); San Jose, CA (No. 8); and Colorado Springs, CO (No. 9).
“Despite not being the most affordable cities to live in,” Gonzalez says of the West, “those at the top fare well in terms of economy, education and health, and quality of life.”
Here’s the full list:
Best big cities to live in
- Seattle, WA
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Austin, TX
- San Francisco, CA
- San Diego, CA
- Honolulu, HI
- Portland, OR
- San Jose, CA
- Colorado Springs, CO
- New York, NY
On the other end of the spectrum, the worst big cities in the nation to live in, Detroit tops that ignominious list for the second year running. The city has struggled to recover from the loss of manufacturing jobs for decades.
In recent years, the Motor City has shown signs of a resurgence with a new $863 million Little Caesars Arena, among other large-scale building projects. Construction will begin on a 26-mile pedestrian and cyclist path through the city in 2020. It’s also one of the markets where home sellers can reap the biggest profits.
And it’s affordable, with a median home list price of just $55,000, according to realtor.com® data.
But the city still has the highest percentage of residents living in poverty and one of the lowest rates of income growth.
“There are very few job opportunities available in Detroit,” Gonzalez says.
Here’s the full list:
Worst big cities to live in
- Detroit, MI
- Memphis, TN
- Cleveland, OH
- Baltimore, MD
- St. Louis, MO
- Indianapolis, IN
- Tulsa, OK
- Milwaukee, WI
- New Orleans, LA
- Santa Ana, CA
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