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Housing Affordability Propels Unlikely Markets To Top of Best Places to Live List

Housing Affordability Propels Unlikely Markets To Top of Best Places to Live List
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Home.com Staff

What makes a great place to live? Mild year-round weather, clear mountain air, and ample job prospects may come to mind. But how about affordable housing and tailgating for sub-zero outdoor NFL games?

Due to fast rising home prices, housing affordability has propelled some unlikely newcomers to the top of this year’s Best Places to Live from U.S. News & World Report.

One prime example – and it kills me as a lifelong Vikings fan to write this – is Green Bay, Wisc. (home of the Green Bay Packers) with its median home price of $255,000 and relatively mild 9.4% annual price growth (compared to 20.9% nationwide).

Green Bay, which ranks second in cheapest places to live, climbed 18 spots from last year’s list to rank as 2022-2023’s third best place to live. Based on U.S. News & World Report, this climb can be attributed largely to low cost of living, as depicted by its impressive 8.5 value rating.

Green Bay ratings

FeatureRating (out of 10)
Desirability4.8
Value8.5
Job market6.1
Quality of life7.1
Net Migration5.3
Overall6.8

Even this salty Vikings fan would consider moving to enemy territory for this balance of cost of living and quality of life.

This year’s best place to live, Huntsville, Ala., is unlikely winner give it’s 4.9/10 desirability ranking. It rose two spots from last year to overtake last year’s champion Boulder, Colo. It too boasts an 8.5 value score thanks to median home price ($409,800) less than a third of Boulder’s ($1.3 million).

Of course, affordability isn’t everything when it comes to the best places to live. Three markets in the top 10 – San Francisco, Boulder, and San Jose – have median home sales prices above $1.3 million.

RankMarketMedian home sales priceYear-over-year price growth
1Huntsville, Ala. $409,80016.7%
2Colorado Springs, Colo. $535,00014.3%
3Green Bay, Wisc. $255,0009.4%
4Boulder, Colo. $1,300,00022.6%
5San Jose, Cali. $1,500,00018.1%
6Raleigh & Durham, N.C. $335,00015.9%
7Fayetteville, Ark. $385,00029.5%
8Portland, Maine $523,0008.1%
9Sarasota, Fla. $485,00040.7%
10San Francisco, Cali. $1,600,0002.9%
Median home prices and home price growth from April 2022 per Realtor.com.

Green Bay, Colorado Springs, and San Jose each made the top five for the first time as rising home prices and remote work opportunities continue to reshape what makes a market desirable.

“Much of the shakeup we see at the top of this year’s ranking is a result of changing preferences,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. “People moving across the country today are putting more emphasis on affordability and quality of life than on the job market, which in many ways takes a back seat as remote work options have become more standard.”

This is evident in comparing the metros that jumped furthest up the list with those that fell the furthest.

The metros making the largest jump were mid-sized metros in New York and Pennsylvania, which all have median home sales prices well below the national median of $428,700. Four of the five that fell the furthest have median home sales prices above that national threshold, except for Fort Myer.

While cost of living is certainly a factor, wildfires in Colorado and Oregon had a negative impact on air quality scores, which lowered the Quality of Life Index used to rank them.

Fort Myer may be suffering from growing pains as it is ranked the fourth fastest-growing place in the U.S. and has seen a 40% increase in cost of living from 2010 to 2020.

Although the housing market may have peaked, prices are expected to continue climbing well into 2023. Combined with remote work, that may continue to reshape what Americans find desirable in a place to live.

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