And The Best Places to Live in the U.S. Are …

Sarasota leads the 14 Florida cities on the list … with a surprising pick at the bottom

Sarasota landed fifth on the magazine’s list.
The serene coastal atmosphere of Sarasota drove the city’s ranking. Pixabay

Is your town the best place to live in the United States? Let’s see what U.S. News & World Report had to say about it.

U.S. News & World Report analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. To make the top of the list, a town had to offer good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market, and provide a high quality of life.

In all, 14 Florida cities made the list of 150 with Sarasota leading the pack.

Green Bay, Wisconsin, won top honors for 2023-24 with USNWR crediting its “perfect mix of big-city amenities complemented with a Midwestern, small-town feel.”

“This city boasts a thriving entertainment and arts scene, revitalized downtown, and two college campuses, creating an energy that may appeal to young families as well as retirees,” the magazine said.

Green Bay was followed by Huntsville (Alabama), Raleigh & Durham (North Carolina), and Boulder (Colorado).

Sarasota was the first Florida city to be ranked. The Gulf Coast city came in at No. 5. The magazine cited Sarasota’s “distinct vibe that’s different from Florida’s relative coastal cities, with its own vibrant arts scene, beachy atmosphere and burgeoning food culture.”

Sarasota also was ranked No. 11 in best places to retire, No. 2 for fast-growing places and No. 7 in safest places to live.

Naples followed in the No. 6 spot, with USNWR lauding its “pristine beaches, sprawling golf courses, and fine dining and shopping.

Other Florida cities were Melbourne (No. 15), Jacksonville (16), Tampa (24), Pensacola (28), Daytona Beach (49), Orlando (52), Tallahassee (60), Port St. Lucie (63), Ocala (67), Fort Myers (91), Lakeland (105), Miami (138).

Miami at 138th? “Miami proper draws young professionals with a multitude of trade and banking careers, while Miami Beach still has a party-hard atmosphere,” the magazine said. “Meanwhile, suburbs such as Key Biscayne, Coral Gables and Doral are popular locations for raising families. Miami’s population is very accepting of nontraditional families as well, and plays host to large pride celebrations.”

The city was zinged in part because it’s also ranked the fourth most expensive city to live in.

Some other interesting observations:

  • Sarasota repeated as the No. 5 pick from last year’s list.
  • Orlando was the comeback kid this year, jumping 66 spots from last year’s list. It got credit for its non-theme-park offerings including the restaurant and nightlife scene.
  • New York City came in 98th, one spot lower than … Cleveland, Ohio?
  • Chicago came in 123rd, right behind Killen, Texas. (No, we’ve never heard of this Texas town either.)
  • America’s Playground – Las Vegas – came in 136th. Who saw that coming?

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