Top 100 Best Places to Live: Methodology & Ranking Criteria

Methodology

With a name like Livability, we take our Best Places to Live list very seriously, and we want you to understand the decisions that went into and the data that drove the creation of this year’s list.

So how exactly do we craft the ranking?

Each year, we analyze data from the best resources out there (more on that later!) to study thousands of cities.

This year, the list was centered around mid-sized cities (generally defined as 500,000 population or smaller) that are attracting big waves of young people, according to the latest projections from our data partner, Esri. More than 2,000 cities were ranked. For each city, we use our proprietary algorithm to calculate a LivScore. The LivScore is based on more than 50 data points grouped into eight categories:

  • Amenities
  • Economy
  • Demographics
  • Housing
  • Social and Civic Capital
  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Transportation and Infrastructure

Where do we get our data?

We pull in data from the best public and private data sources available.

Our trusted sources include public-sector providers such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States Golf Association, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, we also source data from leading private-sector sources, including Esri, Lightcast, Great Schools and ATTOM.

We also find great data created by nonprofits such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

What’s different this year?

This is our ninth year of the annual Top 100 Best Places to Live ranking, and we’ve seen firsthand how the definition of livability has evolved.

The 2022 ranking categories were influenced by an exclusive study conducted by Livability.com in partnership with Ipsos. More than 1,000 adults aged 18 and up from across the country were surveyed to determine the characteristics of livability they would value in a prospective home community, emphasizing how rising costs affect their relocation decisions. Respondents were asked which factors would be most heavily considered when choosing to relocate and how their housing needs and priorities have changed due to record-breaking inflation. The research shows that 7 in 10 adults consider affordability a top-three factor influencing a decision to relocate.

Additionally, given the rise in flexible working conditions many experienced during the pandemic — and many experts predict will continue — we took into account the remote-readiness of a city and how places attract and retain remote workers. 

Does anything else influence this list?

You betcha.

At Livability, we care deeply that each of these cities is actually somewhere that you would want to live. What does that mean?

Our research shows that a good city needs a strong foundation and a level playing field for everyone. This means they must provide residents with access to affordable housing, quality health care, low crime rates and a great climate. Then there are the quality of life needs — reputable schools, good infrastructure and economic growth. Last, these cities differentiate themselves from thousands of others by the quality of their amenities. Think golf courses, public parks, farmers’ markets, arts and culture, etc.

Intrigued?

Check out this year’s Top 100 Best Places to Live ranking.

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