“Kansas City, Missouri, is no flyover Cowtown,” the story said. “Its metropolitan area, which straddles two states and two rivers, is home to a diverse population of more than 2 million people. In the 2020 census, the city itself once again climbed above 500,000. The city celebrates its history while continuously innovating. Locals can sit down to a game of cards in a riverboat casino before enjoying a Kansas City Symphony show. Or they can honor resident legend Charlie Parker with a stop at the American Jazz Museum before sinking their teeth into the famous Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque.
“As more young people flock to Kansas City for its desirable cost of living and optimal job market, the area has fostered the growth of a creative community. Throughout the area, independent boutiques and coffeeshops have sprung up, and walls of buildings are decorated by colorful murals.”
Other cities in Kansas and Missouri came in at varying spots. St. Louis, with 2.8 million in its metro, ranked 72. Springfield, Mo. (with 170,000 metro residents) and Wichita (with 400,000 metro residents) came in at 104 and 103 respectively. No other Missouri or Kansas metro regions met the population criteria to be ranked.
Huntsville, Ala, is ranked No 1, toppling Boulder, Colo., which wore the crown for the past two years but now sits at No. 4 in the ranking of the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the country. The analysis determined that Huntsville’s high score for housing affordability and quality of life pushed it to the front, despite coming in at the lower end of the field for desirability. Part of what drove the city’s top ranking was its high index score for air quality, which U.S. News added as a factor for the first time this year.
Another Colorado city, Colorado Springs, came in at No. 2 on the list, followed by Green Bay, Wis., which jumped 18 spots to No. 3 due to its affordability. San Jose, Calif., took the No. 5 spot, leaping 31 spots from last year’s rankings, because of its high quality of life score.
Colorado cities have struggled with increased crime and drug use after marijuana was legalized across the state.
“Much of the shakeup we see at the top of this year’s ranking is a result of changing preferences,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. “People moving across the country today are putting more emphasis on affordability and quality of life than on the job market, which in many ways takes a back seat as remote work options have become more standard.”
Rounding out the top 10, Raleigh and Durham, N.C., ranked No. 6 this year, following by Fayetteville, Ark., at No. 7; Portland, Maine, at No. 8; Sarasota, Fla., at No. 9; and San Francisco at No. 10.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice