ATLANTA, GA — While it has Southern charm, Atlanta is also a hub of job creation in the hunt for Amazon’s second headquarters, a transit hub and a sports mecca, all of which placed the metro high in a new ranking of cities. Affordability, the availability of jobs and quality of life are all things people consider when deciding where to move. U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Places to Live in the United States shows people are moving to the South, Western states and the Midwest. Atlanta came in at 47th place in the ranking of the country’s 125 largest metropolitan areas, while Augusta was ranked 76th.
Austin, Texas, was named the No. 1 best place to live for the second consecutive year. Colorado Springs, Colorado, took the No. 2 spot, bumping Denver, Colorado, to No. 3, and Des Moines, Iowa, came in at No. 4. Fayetteville, Arkansas, came in at No. 5 for the second year in a row. Rounding out the top 10 were Portland, Oregon; Huntsville, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington.
"When deciding on a place to settle down, it’s important to understand that where a person lives can impact their well-being," Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News, said in a news release. "U.S. News created the Best Places to Live to highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability. The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially."
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To come up with the 2018 Best Places to Live ranking, U.S. News looked at data from the Census Bureau, FBI and Department of Labor. The various qualities residents look for — for example, the job market, affordability and quality of life — were weighted according to the results of the of a public survey in which 2,500 random internet users in 125 metro areas were asked where they would prefer to live.
Americans were less interested in the number of people moving in or out of a metro area and the strength of the job market than they were in overall quality of life and affordability.
Here’s what the publication had to say about life in Atlanta:
"Sure, the sweet tea abounds and it’s common to hear the occasional "y’all" in casual conversation, but Atlanta has long been redefining prevailing perceptions of the South and its so-called Southern charm.
Among the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas, the Georgia capital is attracting newcomers from around the country, and people are looking to this part of the country for culture and commerce like never before. If you learn about everything Atlanta has to offer, it’s easy to see why. Atlanta features award-winning restaurants and chefs, iconic locales that rival any across the country – including the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the CNN Center and the Western hemisphere’s largest indoor aquarium.
Although a sprawling, constantly developing area may mean construction sites at every turn, a dense tree canopy covers any unsightliness, and prompts Atlanta’s reputation as the "city in a forest." 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. And there’s still a sense of that Southern charm that pervades the dynamic metropolis. "I’m not used to people holding the door open for me," transplants often say."
Though its population didn’t grow as quickly in 2016 as it did in previous years, Austin ranked high on the desirability survey. Colorado Springs got high marks for quality of life and a booming job market, and the Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index shows residents generally feel fulfilled socially, physically and financially, and U.S. News said its data shows high school students in Colorado Springs are sufficiently prepared for college and face a better job market than others did in recent years. Des Moines moved up five spots on the list because of a decent cost of living, quality of life and increased job prospects.
Several cities were newcomers to the top 10, including Portland, which saw the largest jump in desirability of all cities on the list. Though the quality of life, net migration and job market rankings in Minneapolis didn’t change, more survey respondents expressed a desire to move their than they have in previous years.
U.S. News said one of the biggest surprises was Huntsville, which has the second-largest research park in the country in Cummings Research Park, which houses several major employers, including Science Applications International Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and the University of Alabama, all of which offer jobs in the burgeoning science, technology, engineering and math fields. The U.S. Army also employs a number of residents at Redstone Arsenal, where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is located. Huntsville also boasts the highest value score out of all the places on the list.
PHOTO: An aerial view of the Atlanta skyline via Shutterstock