Fayetteville rose four spots to No. 4 in the 2021-22 version of U.S. News & World Report‘s annual Best Places to Live rankings.
Released Tuesday, the list ranks the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and desirability. Little Rock rose two spots to No. 93. The Central and Northwest Arkansas metros are the only two in Arkansas among the nation’s top 150.
The Northwest Arkansas metro, anchored by Fayetteville, supplanted Austin, Texas, in the top four. Austin fell from third to fifth. Fayetteville, which takes top honors once again among Southeastern Conference markets, represents the country’s 103rd largest metro with a 2020 population of 548,634, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Its 24.66 percent growth since 2010 ranks it among the nation’s top 20 fastest-growing regions.
Little Rock moved up two spots from 95 in this year’s rankings. The Central Arkansas metro population of 746,564 ranks as the nation’s 80th largest. Since 2010, Little Rock has experienced growth of 6.69 percent.
Boulder, Col., maintained the top spot in the Best Places to Live list. The top 10 for 2021-22:
- Boulder, Col.
- Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
- Huntsville, Ala.
- Austin, Texas
- Colorado Springs
- Naples, Fla.
- Portland, Maine
- Sarasota, Fla.
- Portland, Ore.
The 2021-2022 list determined based on a methodology that factored in job market, value, quality of life, desirability and net migration ratings, according to U.S. News. The methodology also factored in data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sharecare and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the best high schools and hospitals.
Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, said in a press release that this year’s list considered how the largest metros fared for much of the pandemic and how they’re positioned to recover.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”
See the full list here.