Absolute Best Cities to Live in the USA

I looked at results from 7 very different, "best of" lists to come up with the 8 best cities in the USA for 2015.

Every year research organizations, corporations, and media outlets come up with the best cities to live in the USA based on a wide variety of factors–and each list is different. But, what happens when you put all of the lists together? Which are the absolute best of the top cities?

Best cities to live in the USA has Minneapolis at the top of the list
Minneapolis, MN by Matthew Paulson/Flickr


To figure this out for 2015, I looked at the Top 10 finalists on seven different, major lists. I left out any lists that were tailored to one gender only, or one career only. Then I looked at which cities consistently appeared on multiple lists, and tallied up the ones that appeared most often to come up with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Read on to find out which cities made my “10 best cities to live in the USA” list, then read the lists to find out why they stand out from the crowd.

[Editor’s Note: This report was originally published on my previous website, Patch of Earth, on October 18, 2015. Sources are at the end.]

The 8 Best Cities that Show Up Most Often on “Best Of” Lists

First place winner:

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN! It shows up on five of the lists below. It’s considered very green, with a great food scene and fantastic job market. Plus it’s a good place to live without a car. To find out more about what’s happening there, read my article “10 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis.”

St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN by Pixabay

Tied for 2nd place:

These cities show up on four of the lists below.

  • Denver, CO
  • Portland, OR
  • Austin, TX

They’re all full of book lovers. Denver and Portland are also very green. Denver is considered extremely easy to get around without a car and wonderful for retirement, while Portland has a superb food scene and an especially robust job market. Austin is great for retirement and jobs.

Tied for 3rd place:

Among best cities to live in the UDA: San Francisco
San Francisco by David Yu/Flickr

These cities show up on three of the lists below.

  • New York, NY
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • Seattle, WA

Total Results from the Lists I Looked At:

On the best cities to live in the USA list: New York City
New York City by Grufnik/Flickr

Best Cities to Live in the USA for Tree Huggers: America’s Greenest Cities

A new study by the website Wallethub.com generated the report 2015’s Greenest Cities in America.  It looks at 100 cities using 13 major metrics (things like how much green space they have and how much per capita greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the city’s policies aimed at protecting the environment).

According to it, the top 10 greenest cities are:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Portland, OR
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Honolulu, HI
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Oakland, CA
  10. Fremont, CA

New York City ranked highest partly because it ranked number 1 for its “greenness of transportation.” When it came to other factors (environmental quality, “greenness of energy sources,” and “green lifestyle and local policies”) it ranked number 5.

Portland, OR
Portland, OR by Randy Kashka/Flickr

Best Cities to Live in the USA for Foodies:

This report by Travel + Leisure magazine from March 2015 highlights the 20 cities that cater most to the food-loving crowd. Here are the top 10 on their list:

  1. Houston, TX
  2. Providence, RI
  3. Kansas City, KS
  4. Atlanta, GA
  5. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  6. Albuquerque, NM
  7. Cleveland, OH
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. New York, NY


Denver, CO
Denver, CO by Clint Mickel/Flickr

The 10 Best Cities for Retirement in America

In this report, Bankrate.com ranked 196 top cities in the US based on a range of variables that would make retirement a nicer proposition–from walkability and cost of living, to crime rate and weather. Here are the top 10:

  1. Mesa (Metro Phoenix), AZ
  2. Arlington, VA
  3. Prescott, AZ
  4. Tucson, AZ
  5. Des Moines, IA
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Austin, TX
  8. Cape Coral, FL
  9. Colorado Springs, CO
  10. Franklin, TN


Seattle, Washington
Seattle by Frank Fukimoto/Flickr

The Best Cities for Book Lovers

Assuming, as a book lover, that you like being surrounded by other book lovers, Amazon’s 2015 list of The Most Well-Read Cities in America is very revealing. They determined the ranking based on sales of all books, newspapers, and magazines (in Kindle and print format) from April 2014 to April 2015, and limited the selection pool to cities with 500,000 residents or more. The top 10 are:

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Tucson, AZ
  5. Washington, DC
  6. Austin, TX
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. Albuquerque, NM
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Louisville, KY


Austin, Texas
ustin, TX by milpool79/Flickr

The Best Cities for Job Seekers

Nerdwallet.com came up with this list by crunching numbers of 100 of the top cities all across the nation. They weighed factors like workforce growth rates, affordability, and job availability. Here are the top 10 if you’re looking for employment:

  1. Lincoln, NE
  2. Fort Worth, TX
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Minneapolis, MN
  5. Denver, CO
  6. Austin, TX
  7. Greensboro, NC
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Oklahoma City, OK
  10. St. Paul, MN

Fortune magazine also came up with its list of the “Best Cities to Get a Job in 2015.” They based it mainly on unemployment rates. Here are their top 10:

  1. Lincoln, NE
  2. Omaha, NE
  3. Austin, TX
  4. Lubbock, TX
  5. Madison, WI
  6. Irvine, CA
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  10. Honolulu, HI


Washington, DC
Washington, DC by Richard Ricciardi/Flickr

The Best Cities for Walkability and Public Transportation

I found this list of the “13 Best Cities for Students Without a Car 2015” on BestColleges.com. They looked at data from sources such as U.S. News & World Report and Bicycling Magazine. Criteria included how bike-friendly the city is; availability of public transit; and walkability. Here are the top 10:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. Los Angeles, CA
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Chicago, IL


  • “America’s Greenest Cities.” Wallethub. https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-green-cities/16246/
  • Travel + Leisure, “Best Cities for Foodies.” http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-cities-for-foodies
  • “Best Cities for Retirement in America.” Bankrate.com. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/best-cities-for-retirement-in-america-1.aspx
  • “The Most Well-Read Cities in America.” Amazon.com. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=RssLanding&cat=news&id=2055566
  • “Best Cities for Job Seekers.” Nerdwallet.com https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/uncategorized/best-cities-job-seekers-2015/
  • “Best Cities to Get a Job in 2015.” Fortune Magazine. http://fortune.com/2015/06/15/best-cities-find-job/
  • “13 Best Cities for Students Without a Car 2015.” BestColleges.com. http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/cities-for-students-without-cars/

What do you think is the best city in the US and why? Share it by leaving a comment below!



  1. Hmm, nice list but still there are a few missing in your list. Such as with good education, lifestyle, culture, travel, and cheap rent rates. Some cities that you mentioned are very expensive. There are many other great cities that you can mention in your list including Nashville, Arkansas and others

  2. I took a trip to Minneapolis, And I´m glad that it made this list! There is great food, awesome hotels and stores, and cool views! It was the best trip out out the eight trips I have had in the past five years. It also has some great quality!


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