Why Huntsville, Alabama, is the best place to live in the US

The southern city ranks first for its low cost of living, flourishing job market and clean air

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There’s a new best city in the US when it comes to where people want to live.

Huntsville, Alabama, has knocked Boulder, Colorado, off the top slot in the US News & World Report’s top places to live rankings. Home to about 200,000 people, Huntsville scored highly for its housing affordability and quality of life.

Residents in the birthplace of America’s space programme enjoy lower housing costs than the average American, with property costing an average of $192,667 compared to the national median of $315,743.

Transportation costs are also slightly cheaper than in most other states, although healthcare costs sit above the national average. Commute times are better for residents in the growing tech hub, averaging 22 minutes and eight seconds, four minutes less than the national median.

Every year, US News ranks 150 metro areas in the US to find the best places to live based on quality of life, value of living, people’s desire to live there and the current job market.

Boulder slips from first to fourth place in this year's list, with Colorado Springs becoming the top-ranked city in the Centennial State.

The top 10 places to live in the US in 2022

  1. Huntsville, Alabama
  2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  3. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  4. Boulder, Colorado
  5. San Jose, California
  6. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  7. Fayetteville, North Carolina
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. Sarasota, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

Employers in Huntsville — which include Facebook, the US Army and Boeing — pay decent average salaries, with the area ranking seventh for its job market which considers wage levels and opportunities.

Huntsville’s city centre has undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years, and the city has lots of new shopping, dining and entertainment options including the largest privately owned arts facility in the south.

Nicknamed Rocket City because of its association with Nasa, it is also where you'll find the US Space & Rocket Centre, the world’s largest K’Nex skeleton sculpture, 112 kilometres of hiking trails and more than eight public nature reserves.

And people out enjoying those green spaces have good quality air to breathe in, as the city ranks 16th on the Best Places to Live list for air quality, with pollution causing little to no risk for those in the area.

The northern Alabama city also ranks third when it comes to the cheapest places in the US to live, a list that is topped by Hickory in North Carolina and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

However, for those looking for the best place to retire in the US, Huntsville ranks a lowly 54th. It's the state of Florida that comes out on top for those looking for a place to spend their golden years. The south-western Florida city of Sarasota is the number one spot for retirees, followed by Naples, Daytona Beach and Melbourne, in the list which considers the happiness of local residents, housing affordability, tax rates and health care quality.

Updated: June 07, 2023, 9:36 AM