• U.S. News & World Report releases a list of
  • The best places to live 2018 ranking looked at five metrics: job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration.
  • The best place to live in America is Austin, Texas, followed by Colorado Springs, Colorado.

When deciding where to put down roots, many factors are in the eye of the beholder, such as climate, politics, or proximity to extended family.

Other aspects are coveted by nearly everybody: affordable housing, access to well-paying jobs, a low cost of living, good schools, and quality healthcare. In its ranking of the best places to live in America for 2018, U.S. News & World Report gathered data on these crucial components for more than 100 US cities.

They then categorized the data into five indexes for each city — job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration — to definitively rank these major metro areas. You can read U.S. News' full methodology here.

Scores for "value," a blend of annual household income and cost of living, and "quality of life," which accounts for crime, college readiness, commute, and other factors, are included below on a 10-point scale, as well as the city's population and average annual salary.

Austin, Texas, came out on top for the second consecutive year, while Colorado Springs, Colorado, jumped from No. 11 to take the No. 2 spot, edging out the state's capital, Denver, which rounded out the top three.

Nearly a dozen cities made the top-50 list for the first time since 2017, including Huntsville, Alabama; Asheville, North Carolina; and Anchorage, Alaska.

Keep reading to discover the 50 best places to live in America.

50. Lansing, Michigan

Population: 470,348

Average annual salary: $47,550

Quality of life: 7.0

Value index: 7.1

49. Cincinnati, Ohio


Average annual salary:$48,130

Quality of life:6.4


48. Syracuse, New York


Average annual salary:$48,530

Quality of life:7.1


It might get 124 inches-plus of snow per year, but don't let the blustery climate deter you:Syracuseboasts a low cost of living, easy access to both the city center and surrounding suburbs, and a host of cultural activities, including the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

Home to Syracuse University, the town also rallies behind the Orange during basketball season, cheering the team to victory.

47. Atlanta, Georgia


Average annual salary:$50,720

Quality of life:5.8

Value index:7.0

An attractive blend of big city and big country,Atlantais attracting transplants far and wide with its award-winning restaurants, culture centers, and flourishing job market. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies call the city home, including Delta, The Home Depot, and The Coca-Cola Company, and it's an increasingly popular spot for film productions.

In addition, "The Chattahoochee River that traverses the metro area, and Stone Mountain, the world's largest chunk of exposed granite, located just northeast of the city proper, also offer a quick escape from any urban anxiety," says one local expert.

46. Hartford, Connecticut


Average annual salary:$58,400

Quality of life:7.0

Value index:6.7

Located in the Connecticut River Valley,Hartfordwas once the home to notable historic figures, including Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Among the city's historic attractions, today it offers nearby entertainment venues, ski slopes, state parks.

The aerospace, healthcare, and financial services industries dominate the job market in Hartford, which is home to Aetna Inc., United Technologies Corp., and Hartford Hospital.

45. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


Average annual salary:$47,220

Quality of life:6.7

Value index:7.4

Located on the banks of the Susquehanna River and the foothills of the Appalachian Trail,Harrisburgoffers residents unlimited access to the outdoors. Many are employed by the state and federal government in Harrisburg, but there's alsoseveral large private-sector companiesthat are top employers, including Hershey's, Rite Aid, and D&H Distributing.

44. Jacksonville, Florida


Average annual salary:$45,140

Quality of life:6.7

Value index:6.3

Jacksonville'sbeach-adjacent location makes it ideal for outdoor activities. In addition to spending lazy days in the sand, residents can also visit the area's prime golf courses or go hiking, camping, and kayaking in the nearby parks. Jacksonville also continues to grow, with burgeoning art and music scenes, as well as new business development, according to a local expert.

43. Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Average annual salary:$44,100

Quality of life:6.5

Value index:7.1

The cost of living inWinston-Salemis a bargain. The city's average housing costs remain well below the national average — renters pay about $200 less per month for a one-bedroom apartment than their counterparts around the country.

Residents can also take advantage of the city's cultural offerings with visits to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

42. Anchorage, Alaska

Population: 398,000

Average annual salary: $57,770

Quality of life: 6.4

Value index: 7.5

41. Ft. Meyers, Florida

Population: 680,970

Average annual salary: $40,420

Quality of life: 6.3

Value index: 5.2

40. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Population: 426,755

Average annual salary: $42,250

Quality of life: 6.1

Value index: 8.7

39. Albany, New York

38. Charleston, South Carolina


Average annual salary:$44,500

Quality of life:6.2

Value index:6.2

Charleston'scharming, historic, and sophisticated ambiance is exemplary of southern culture. "Not only is the area overflowing with entertainment and good food, but this low country locale is also gorgeous," said a local expert.

Tourism is boomingin Charleston, creating plenty of jobs, especially in the summer months. Year-round, jobs in tech, sales, marketing, and advertising keep the city's economy strong.

37. Manchester, New Hampshire

Population: 404,948

Average annual salary: $51,920

Quality of life: 7.0

Value index: 6.7

36. Columbus, Ohio

Population: 1,995,004

Average annual salary: $48,850

Quality of life: 6.5

Value index: 7.4

Ohio's capital is a bustling city with a youthful flavor and a passion for sports, music, and entertainment. For many residents, life revolves around the Ohio State University football team — "the region lives and breathes football," as one local expert put it. But it's the business-friendly economy and affordability that contributes to its entry on this list. Between home prices, monthly rents, and the overall cost of living, Columbus is cheaper than most metros of its size.

35. Honolulu, Hawaii


Average annual salary:$51,080

Quality of life:6.5

Value index:4.7

Often considered the cultural and culinary hub of the Hawaiian islands, according to U.S. News' local expert,Honoluluabounds with shopping centers, restaurants, and miles of beaches. It's on the expensive side when it comes to cost of living — but you can't beat the year-round tropical temperatures.

34. Sarasota, Florida


Average annual salary:$41,870

Quality of life:7.3

Value index:5.3

Sarasotaboasts "warm temperatures year-round, award-winning beaches, and a thriving arts and cultural scene," said a local expert. Thebiggest employers in Sarasotaare in education, trade, and transportation, and the leisure and hospitality sector touts a low unemployment rate powered by a recent increase in tourism and a flood of new residents.

33. Reno, Nevada

Population: 443,855

Average annual salary: $45,210

Quality of life: 7.3

Value index: 6.3

32. Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Average annual salary:$43,000

Quality of life:7.7

Value index:7.0

InLancaster, residents can breeze through numerous environments in the course of a day, from rolling farmland to busy city streets to quiet suburbs. Though dairy farming rules the economy here, major companies, including Kellogg's and Mars, also call the area home.

Lancaster might be famous for its Amish and Mennonite population, but the town is also bustling with a mix of college students and non-religious families.

31. Greenville, South Carolina


Average annual salary:$42,290

Quality of life:6.7

Value index:7.2

Once a sleepy small town,Greenvillehas witnessed a cultural revival in recent years, complete with an influx of new restaurants and businesses. Though the summers can get hot, the city's typically mild weather make it possible to explore downtown on foot anytime of the year.

An influx of manufacturing jobs have also boosted Greenville's economy, with brand-name companies, such as GE and Michelin, setting up shop in town.

30. San Diego, California

29. Melbourne, Florida


Average annual salary:$46,520

Quality of life:7.1

Value index:6.2

Between fishing, boating, and a plethora of bars and restaurants, there's never a shortage of things to do in theMelbournearea. The city's ripe with retirees and "snowbirds" — people who split their time between colder climates in the summer and Florida in the winter — who can enjoy days on one of the many nearby golf courses and nights out exploring the local shops and art galleries.

28. Omaha, Nebraska

27. Portland, Maine


Average annual salary:$47,770

Quality of life:7.2

Value index:6.4

Located right on the water at Casco Bay and lined with cobblestone streets,Portland immediately evokes the quaintness of a much smaller town. Between fishing, sailing, cross-country skiing, and exploring the city's buzzing nightlife, there's no shortage of things to do. Seafood lovers can nosh on fresh catches at the city's modern oyster bars and or grab one of Maine's signature lobster rolls.

26. Houston, Texas


Average annual salary:$52,870

Quality of life:6.9

Value index:7.1

Houstonis a major player in the oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries — it's also home to26 Fortune 500 companies. According to one local expert, "a paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major cities, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions." Plus, the city has an affinity for food, counting some 11,000 restaurants within its boundaries.

25. Boston, Massachusetts

24. Asheville, North Carolina

Population: 441,724

Average annual salary: $40,330

Quality of life: 7.2

Value index: 6.3

23. Boise, Idaho


Average annual salary:$43,040

Quality of life: 6.8

Value index:7.4

Idaho'scapital city is "a recreationalist's paradise," according to one local expert, who also said Boise sits "squarely on the boundary of urban and rural, civilized and wild, refined and raw." The region is home tomore than 22,000Boise State University students andprovides jobsat government agencies as well as in tech and healthcare.

22. Charlotte, North Carolina


Average annual salary:$49,600

Quality of life:6.4

Value index:7.5

A "melting pot effect" draws all types of people toCharlotte, a place with "equal parts old-fashioned southern charm and high-energy cosmopolitan bustle," touted one local expert. NASCAR and motorsports are a cultural cornerstone of Charlotte. The Queen City houses Bank of America's headquarters and major offices for Wells Fargo, making itone of the largest financial hubsin the country.

21. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky


Average annual salary:$43,620

Quality of life:7.1

Value index:7.8

20. San Francisco, California


Average annual salary:$69,110

Quality of life:6.4

Value index:5.3

A local expert describedSan Franciscoas "the heart of the bohemian lifestyle, the epicenter of the LGBT rights movement, and the launching point of the technology era." In the last decade, thousands of tech companies have raced to set up shop in the Bay Area, sending the cost of living through the roof. But despite all the focus on the tech and startup scene, the city also has plenty of business jobs available withmore than 30 international financeheadquarters.

19. Phoenix, Arizona


Average annual salary:$47,540

Quality of life:6.8

Value index:6.6

Come for the weather, stay for the city:Phoenixboasts more sunny days per year than any other city in the US, according to a local expert. But it's the thriving job market, variety of shops and restaurants, and easy access to numerous outdoor activities — think everything from hiking to paddleboarding — that keep residents happy long-term.

18. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas


Average annual salary:$50,350

Quality of life:7.0

Value index:7.1

A healthy balance of urban and rural,Dallasoffers residents "big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living," shared one local expert. There's local bars, retail shops, and plenty of sports spirit to satisfy the huge population. The city — with largelarge employersin business, finance, and education — is teeming with young professionals.

17. San Jose, California


Average annual salary:$78,990

Quality of life:7.4

Value index: 5.7

The sprawling city ofSan Joseis "as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district," said a local expert. Young residents and recent graduates of nearby Stanford and UC Berkeley have no trouble finding jobs in the area, which touts Cisco, eBay, and IBM asits largest private-sector employers.

16. Madison, Wisconsin


Average annual salary:$50,830

Quality of life:7.1

Value index:7.3

Wisconsin's capital is a "hotbed of the healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing industries," said a local expert. The area is also home to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, providing hundreds of jobs in education.Madisonhas a unique food culture that's a blend of fine dining and farmer's markets catering to the city's college students, young professionals, and families.

15. Salt Lake City, Utah

14. San Antonio, Texas


Average annual salary: $45,210

Quality of life:7.0

Value index:7.0

At once a destination city and a down-home community,San Antoniooffers up a variety of cuisines, music styles, and art for visitors and locals. The city hosts "more than 50 major events and festivals throughout the year," a number of which honor the area's Spanish heritage, said a local expert. San Antonio is home to four military and air force bases and camps,collectively known as Joint Base San Antonio.

13. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina


Average annual salary:$52,669

Quality of life:6.7

Value index:7.8

Raleigh-Durhamand Chapel Hill are collectively known as the Triangle, an area anchored by its foundation in research and tech. The Triangle employsnearly 40,000 residentsat companies like IBM, SAS Institute Inc., and Cisco Systems as well as surrounding colleges Duke, North Carolina State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A strong job market coupled with a burgeoning microbrewery and dining scene draws 80 new residents every day, said a local expert.

12. Grand Rapids, Michigan


Average annual salary:$43,610

Quality of life:7.7

Value index:8.1

Grand Rapidsattracts "college students and young families with its healthy job market, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational activities," said a local expert. The self-proclaimed "Beer City USA" hasmore than 40 breweriesas well as dynamic public art and music scenes.

Once a hub for furniture production, Grand Rapids' job market is nowdominatedby education and healthcare, with many opportunities for workers without a college degree.

11. Nashville, Tennessee

10. Seattle, Washington


Average annual salary:$61,170

Quality of life: 6.2

Value index:6.4

Seattleis sandwiched between water and mountains and doesn't get as much rain as you'd think, said one local expert. The city's residents are drawn to the area for its atmosphere of "calm and patience" and its close proximity to nature.Jobs in Seattleare concentrated in tech, healthcare, and maritime industries, but the city is also a huge manufacturing center for companies like Boeing.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota


Average annual salary:$55,010

Quality of life:6.9

Value index:7.9

The Twin Citieshave "big-city amenities like museums and sports stadiums, but also have an approachable, Midwestern feel," according to a local expert. Residents are accustomed to the area's changing seasons, participating in ice fishing and cross-country skiing in the winter and music festivals and baseball games in the spring and summer.

Jobs areavailablein science-focused fields at companies like Xcel Energy and Medtronic as well as retail corporations like Best Buy and Target.

8. Washington, DC


Average annual salary:$68,000

Quality of life: 6.4

Value index: 7.4

The District's neighborhoods each give off their own vibe, but across the city residents often "gather for block parties, mingle at dog parks, and converse at coffee shops," explained a local expert. WhileWashington, DC, is known as a hub for politics, there's alsoa strong job marketfor education and health services.

7. Huntsville, Alabama

Population: 440,230

Average annual salary: $52,960

Quality of life: 7.0

Value index: 8.8

6. Portland, Oregon


Average annual salary:$53,960

Quality of life:6.5

Value index:6.5

Portlandisn't for everybody — its slogan is "Keep Portland Weird," after all. But one local expert asserts that it's a "well-rounded city with more than just the offbeat shops and events" and a population that has "more academic degrees than the national average."

Anannual job growth rate of 2.9% per yearis attributed to roots in the technology sector, including major employer Intel Corporation, as well as the 6,000-employee headquarters for Nike, located about seven miles outside of Portland.

5. Fayetteville, Arkansas


Average annual salary:$44,980

Quality of life:7.5

Value index:7.9

Fayettevillesits among the Ozark Mountains and is home to the University of Arkansas' flagship campus. The surrounding area of northwest Arkansas is home toheadquarters for seven Fortune 500 companiesincluding Walmart and Tyson Foods. The city has experienced immense growth, according to a local expert, who said the region has evolved "from a small town to a center of higher education, culture, commerce, and entrepreneurialism."

4. Des Moines, Iowa


Average annual salary:$49,420

Quality of life:7.0

Value index:8.5

Des Moinesis drawing millennials and young families alike for its "one-of-a-kind shops, locally owned restaurants, and hip bars" as well as its historical residences in quiet neighborhoods, said a local expert. Home to more than 80 insurance companies including giants Allied Insurance and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield,the job market is thriving.

3. Denver, Colorado


Average annual salary:$54,910

Quality of life:6.7

Value index:7.2

WhileDenversits at the base of the Rocky Mountains, it's not considered a mountain town since it takes at least an hour to get to the Rockies for snowboarding and ski activities, a local expert explained. At 5,279 feet, the Mile High City lives up to its name in more ways than one: In 2012, Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, paving the way for a flourishing andlucrative cannabis industry.

2. Colorado Springs, Colorado


Average annual salary:$49,450

Quality of life:

Value index:

Colorado Springsis "booming, with new residences popping up alongside quality schools, parks, and cultural attractions," touts a local expert. The city is just an hour drive from Denver and in close proximity to Aspen and Vail's world-class ski resorts. Military jobs influence Colorado Springs' culture and economy, but in medical innovation and tech.

1. Austin, Texas

Population: 1,942,615

Average annual salary:$50,830

Quality of life:7.1

Value index:7.1

The capital of Texas gains about 50 new residents daily, many seeking out the city's "music, outdoor spaces, and cultural institutions," said a local expert.

Austinis beloved for its live music scene and is host to some of the country's biggest music and culture festivals, including South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. The city was nicknamed" target="_blank"Silicon Hills"in the 1990s for its status as "among the top areas for venture capital investment in the country."