The 24 best places to live in the South — the region that’s becoming the best place to live in America
U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of the best places to live in America, ranking the 100 most populous US cities on factors such as desirability, job market, and quality of life.
The best region in the country, going by the US Census Bureau’s geographic divisions, might surprise some: the South. Twenty-four of the top 50 cities can be found in the South — more than the combined number of cities that made the list from the traditionally more desirable West and Northeast regions.
Though prominent coastal areas like Boston and San Francisco might be expected to help their regions topple the competition, cities in the South outperformed the field on two key metrics: job market and cost of living.
"U.S. News found a divide between what Americans say makes a place desirable to live in versus what their criteria is when thinking about moving," Miriam Weiner, product manager for real estate at U.S. News, told Business Insider. "Looking at regions, metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest do not perform as highly as coastal areas on the desirability index, but they do offer stronger job markets and a better cost of living — two components that make up 45% of our methodology." (You can read the full methodology here.)
The appeal of iconic cultural hubs like New York and Los Angeles is a draw for many, but in the end, affordability matters a lot, giving the South a leg up on the competition.
Southern cities like Austin, Charleston, and Houston also offer many of the amenities of more "desirable" areas, including proximity to beaches, thriving food scenes, and an abundance of local culture.
Ready to move yet? Keep reading to discover the 24 best places to live in the South.
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24. Columbia, South Carolina
Median annual salary: $41,020
Quality of life: 6.4
Overall value: 7.7
Home to the University of South Carolina, Columbia exudes a college-town atmosphere that can be felt through its abundance of trendy coffee shops and hip bars. For the nonstudent residents, the town’s job market is on the rise, steadily adding positions in the technology and manufacturing sectors. Columbia’s cost of living also sits well below the national average.
23. Louisville, Kentucky
Median annual salary: $42,330
Quality of life: 6.2
Overall value: 7.9
Many Louisville residents find work in healthcare, business, tourism, and technology, with companies like YUM Brands, Humana, and Ford offering opportunities for employment.
Tourists and locals alike come together each spring at Churchill Downs for the two-week Kentucky Derby festival, filled with mint juleps, Kentucky bourbon, and a some horse racing, too.
22. Orlando, Florida
Median annual salary: $40,200
Quality of life: 6.9
Overall value: 5.3
There’s more to Orlando than Disney World. Head downtown for a ticket to the hottest restaurants and nightclubs of the moment or trek out to the residential sector filled with picturesque lakefront homes.
That’s not to say locals don’t appreciate the tourist traps. The parks serve as a point of pride for many long-term residents, according to one local expert. “The theme parks’ special pricing for local residents along with the widespread employment that the parks offer have largely endeared them to the community,” he explained.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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