U.S. News & World Report has released its latest rankings for Best Places to Live in the United States, with Austin taking the second spot in the nation for its quality of life, job market, the value of living here, and people’s desire to live here. Austin’s overall score was 7.7 out of 10. Denver, Colorado ranked first. Fayetteville, Arkansas; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Colorado Springs, Colorado rounded out the top five.
The report stated that while the median sales price for Austin homes is well above the national average, “Austinites’ pocketbooks benefit from no personal or corporate income tax, and a low state and local tax rate.” It also cited the relative value of housing, when considering housing costs compared to median household income. It reported Austin housing costs as $240,000, compared to $218,867 for national housing costs.
The job market was cited as a plus, with a 3.1 percent unemployment rate – 1.9 percent lower than the national average – and an average annual salary of $48,150, compared to $47,230 nationally.
The report knocked Austin’s traffic as “among the nation’s worst cities for traffic congestion,” at an average commute of 25.9 minutes, four minutes longer than the national average. However, it also pointed to Austin’s many other lifestyle benefits, such as its 250 parks, University of Texas events, Formula One races at Circuit of the Americas, and its reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World and as a “bustling culinary scene.” The report said that Austin summers do take some getting used to but that most of the year is relatively mild. Schools and crime rates also ranked better than similar-sized cities in the U.S.