As people continue to shift back to pre-pandemic social and recreational activities — even if they are still working remotely — a new study has broken down the best U.S. cities in which to work, learn, hang out and generally enjoy oneself in 2023.
Niche, a data analysis company, used Census data, surveys and other info sources to break down the best cities in the U.S., taking into account the cost of living, safety, school quality, nightlife, walkability, outdoor activities and more.
As for California cities, Berkeley and Irvine placed 6th and 7th on the 2023 edition of the list, moving up from 8th and 10th respectively. Other California cities in the top 20 include Sunnyvale, San Francisco and Santa Clara, all of which are in the bay area.
See the top five for 2023 below:
Topping the list is Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to roughly 117,000. The city, which is also home to Harvard, “offers residents an urban feel” with numerous bars, restaurants, coffee shops and parks. The public schools are also excellent, according to Niche.
In second place is Arlington, Virginia, which jumped up from fourth in 2022. While Arlington took a hit when it comes to the affordability of housing (median home value: $755,800), it received the highest possible grade when it comes to public schools, family-friendliness and nightlife.
The Woodlands, which is in the Houston area of Texas, took the top spot in 2022 but dropped to third place in 2023. Most people own their houses in The Woodlands, which “offers residents a dense suburban feel” and has plentiful restaurants and parks. “Newcomers always point out the excess greenery and ask how we locals can find anything, but I have no problem with all the trees because the town is so well-organized,” one person wrote in the study’s comments.
Naperville, Illinois is in the fourth spot and is home to roughly 150,000 people. The schools are great and the city is family friendly, according to Niche, but the Chicago suburb received just a “B+” when it came to nightlife, and a “B-” for crime and safety.
Columbia, Maryland is fifth on the list for 2023. The city, which has a population of about 105,000 residents, is home to many families and young professionals, according to Niche, and the public schools are excellent.
See the list of the top 20 cities below, or go to Niche’s report for the full list.
|Place||Metro area||State||2023 ranking||2022 ranking||2021 ranking|
|Arlington||Washington, D.C. Area||Virginia||2||4||2|
|The Woodlands||Houston Area||Texas||3||1||1|
|Berkeley||San Francisco Bay Area||California||6||8||9|
|Irvine||Los Angeles Area||California||7||10||11|
|Ann Arbor||Detroit Area||Michigan||8||6||6|
|Overland Park||Kansas City Area||Kansas||9||5||4|
|Plano||Dallas-Fort Worth Area||Texas||11||9||7|
|Richardson||Dallas-Fort Worth Area||Texas||12||12||12|
|Sunnyvale||San Francisco Bay Area||California||14||16||16|
|San Francisco||San Francisco Bay Area||California||15||14||15|
|Santa Clara||San Francisco Bay Area||California||16||24||23|
|Sandy Springs||Atlanta Area||Georgia||18||22||19|
|Raleigh||Raleigh Area||North Carolina||19||17||17|
For Americans hoping to buy a house in 2023, February brought a glimmer of hope as the median sales price of $363,000 was .2% lower year-over-year, according to to the National Association of Realtors.
“Conscious of changing mortgage rates, home buyers are taking advantage of any rate declines,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Moreover, we’re seeing stronger sales gains in areas where home prices are decreasing and the local economies are adding jobs.”
If you’re looking to capitalize on your existing home before moving to Cambridge or Arlington, for instance, you may want to wait until April to list your home. Realtor.com projections found that the week of April 16-22 is historically the best for sellers.
In February, existing-home sales rose to break a 12-month slide, according to NAR, jumping 14.5%, the largest monthly percentage increase since July, 2020.