It’s that time of year again: U.S. News & World Report’s recently unveiled the Best Places to Live in the USA, and San Antonio lands in good company.
The site, which compared the 125 largest metros in the country, ranks San Antonio at the No. 34 spot. According to U.S. News, the city must “have a good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market, and a high quality of life.”
San Antonio, which also ranks No. 8 in best places to retire, fell from the No. 14 spot in last year's list, but U.S. News lauds the Alamo City for being "as comfortable as an old pair of jeans."
"It offers big-city amenities and world-renowned attractions coupled with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere," the report says. "Most famously known as the home of the Alamo, the spirit of the region expands beyond its tourist labels, offering a community rich in Spanish and Old West heritage."
Residents and visitors can set their own pace of life in San Antonio, U.S. News notes.
"Living in a destination city has its benefits. Families appreciate having year-round access to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld San Antonio," the report adds. "Foodies enjoy every genre of cuisine from food trucks in Southtown to the beloved Tex-Mex and barbecue fare. Theater, music and art aficionados can attend productions at the Majestic Theater and the Tobin Center or exhibitions at the McNay Art Museum. Sports fans cheer on their NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs."
For the third year in a row, Austin topped the list. The Live Music Capital of the World is also the only Texas city to make it into the top five. Denver, Colorado, took silver, and Colorado Springs took bronze, with Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Des Moines, Iowa, securing fourth and fifth best, respectively. Then there's DFW at No. 21 and Houston following at No. 30.
So how’d Austin get to No. 1 on the list? How does any city get on this list?
U.S. News surveyed 2,000 American residents to weigh various factors about their cities. “These factors include quality of the job market, housing affordability, if people are actually moving to the areas, net migration, [and] desirability as well,” explained U.S. News Real Estate editor Devon Thornsby.
Quality of life is a huge component of the methodology. Things like high school education quality and average morning commute time factor into that category. Even with the city’s ongoing struggles with affordability and mobility, the pros still outweigh the cons for Austin residents.
Austin, with its technology boom, slew of universities, migration from other parts of Texas and the country, and general desirability, is caught in a perfect storm.
But other cities provide a good warning. “The biggest factor keeping places like New York City and Los Angeles from getting on the list is cost of living,” Thornsby said. “As a ranking that’s trying to help anyone make a decision, we have to take a realistic look at what people can afford there.”
Thornsby credits Austin’s “three-peat” win in large part to how much cheaper to live Austin still is than in Silicon Valley or New York City, where many of our transplants come from, as well as the overall culture.
“A lot of young professionals love the idea of being able to live in a part of the country that isn’t already so established with professionals,” she said.
Here are some quick stats for San Antonio:
- Population: 2,377,507
- Average annual salary: $46,200
- Average high/low temperatures: 80.2 degrees/58.6 degrees
- Median age: 34.4 years old
- Median home price: $211,800
- Average annual rainfall: 32.3 inches
- Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent
- Median monthly rent: $949
- Average commute time: 26.0 minutes