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The 15 Best Places to Live in the US

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Each year U.S. News & World Report releases a list of the Best Places to Live in the US. These top-rated cities always include a few big players, like Boston and San Francisco, as well as some surprises, like Green Bay, Wisconsin, landing the #1 spot. To determine the best cities, U.S. News considers a multitude of factors, including quality of life, the local job market, value for your money, and the place’s desirability. And while we agree that all these factors are important in determining where to live in America, we’d also throw access to art and design into the mix. That’s why we used the U.S. News list as a jumping off point—zeroing in on the top 75 and picking the 15 best places to live for design lovers. 

Before you read on, a little more about the methodology:

What is the #1 US city?

As mentioned above, Green Bay, Wisconsin, earned top honors in the U.S. News list thanks to its big-city conveniences and small-town vibes. While we can appreciate a city with a sufficient number of old-school supper clubs, the competition was steep when we factored in design-centric amenities, so we didn’t include Green Bay in our list. However, fellow Wisconsin cities Madison and Milwaukee are in our top 15.  

What city is #1 quality of life?

U.S. News determines quality of life based on factors that matter to Americans most, including crime rates, quality of education, and quality and availability of health care. Ann Arbor, Michigan, nabbed the highest score for quality of life, with Boulder, Colorado (in our design list), a close second.

Where is the nicest place to live in the US with affordable housing?

As part of its value assessment, U.S. News examined each city’s median annual household compared to home prices in the area. As you’ll see in our list, good design and affordable real estate aren’t mutually exclusive.

What is the #1 place to live in the US for design lovers?

Focusing on the cream of the crop, the top 75 out of 150 from the U.S. News list, we chose our top 15 based on access to museums, art, cultural institutions, and top-notch architecture. We also considered which cities best fuel creative energy and make the best places to live for designers, artists, and innovators.

A view of Boulder’s famous Pearl Street.

Photo: Getty Images

Boulder, Colorado

U.S. News & World Report ranking: #4

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