The 8 Absolute Best Cities to Live In the USA

I looked at results from 7 very different, "best of" lists to come up with the 8 best cities in the USA for 2015.

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61 COMMENTS

  1. Huh, so it looks like Minneapolis got 5th place on most things, but adding up those scores puts it in first place. Cool, I sort of figured my home was something of a jack-of-all trades.

  2. I’d vote for Duluth, Minnesota. Great food, brew pubs and music scene. Fabulous mountain biking, skiing, fishing, hunting, rock climbing and golf right outside your door. Canal Park and Park Point right on Lake Superior. Awesome scenery on the North Shore of Superior. The John Bear Grease Sled Dog Marathon and Great Lakes Aquarium are among the attractions. Plus, Superior, Wisconsin is right across the bridge.

  3. I built my business in the Twin Cities, then retired to the Phoenix area. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS according to your article. My advice ? Try a few of these TERRIFIC areas before you get serious.

  4. The park system that provides incredible walkway, the freeway system that allows people to commute very fast everywhere, the job markets, the robustness of the economy, the diversity of the population and food, the affordable cost of living, and the quality of educational system, are the eight main reasons why I never left Minneapolis Saint Paul. I moved in 30 years ago.

    • Really, the freeway system that allows fast commutes? Are u sure you live here? You must not have to take 35W to east Crosstown any day of the week or get caught in the clog machine on I94 on the south side of downtown (both ways) which is a parking lot for several hours during both am & pm rush hour and even on a weekend day. There’s a lot of good things about Minneapolis, the serious traffic congestion is not one of them.

      • For how large the Twin Cities Municipally is, the commute is staggeringly better here than else where. Ex: Seattle. Also I will admit crosstown does clog up more often than none.

  5. MSP a great place to live without a car? Unless you’re planning on living in the downtowns, a car would be highly recommended for the winter. Public transit is great around the metro but a car would make the winters just a bit better.

  6. These lists are silly. I grew up in the Twin Cities. Wonderful in many ways but I would not choose to live there nor would many other people I know. The weather there negates much of the good. Many people in Seattle, Portland, and Mpls/St Paul are unhappy for six months of the year. Common sense tells us if people complain for 6 months it can’t compare to cities that are filled with truly happy people year round. Denver is bursting with newcomers who are thrilled to be there. Tucson almost makes it. The summer is just too hot. The best of all worlds would be to live in Denver part time and Tucson part time. That’s exactly what I do.

  7. All the weather complaints are silly. Almost every city has bad weather. At least MSP has the decency to be honest that our winters are cold and the winter has the decency to freeze hard for many months instead of being perpetually muddy. Have you been to quote-unquote temperate cities in July? Most make Minneapolis in January look delightful. If you’re choosing a best city for the weather, it had better be San Diego.

  8. I don’t agree with this list. I grew up in Minneapolis, but I live in Chicago. As far as public transportation, job seekers and the food scene Chicago beats Minneapolis by a landslide.

      • There’s crime in all major urban areas, Doug. Don’t be naive. And the highs and lows are cyclical. I’m from Chicago and will happily return. But when we moved to DC for work it was the “murder capital of the world,” now on a top 10 list. Crime is everywhere.

      • This list isn’t about crime levels, school systems or poverty levels. I noted that I disagree with the public transportation, food scene and job opportunists. For a young professional who doesn’t want to drive a car, find better cuisines and generally have a more interesting job than Chicago wins. I don’t live here because I want my family here, and this post isn’t about where to raise a family.

    • Sara, Since the light-rail has been put in, it has changed our transportation. We also have Ubber here and it has transformed how fast we can get around. But I agree, Chicago has much better public transportation. We have a very green public transportation with the light-rail. Now if they could get rid of all the smelly buses.

      • That’s great news, Angela. I do visit Minneapolis every few months and I do enjoy the transportation it has to offer. However, I don’t feel that I could ever survive without a car in Minneapolis versus Chicago. Chicagos transportation is affordable, reliable and more convenient.

  9. the freeway system that allows people to commute very fast everywhere…..really? Anyone who has to go east on Crosstown from 35W will disagree…what a mess that it is, even on weekends. Anyone who has to go south, north, east or west on I94 south of downtown would most certainly disagree….it’s a parking lot for hours both a.m. and p.m. And it’s nice they took out all those car lanes and gave them to the bicyclists, but now all those major streets are clogged and bogged down. It’s getting so you can’t find a reasonable way home without sitting in traffic both on and off the freeway anymore. It really is a nightmare to drive in Minneapolis area from 6 am to around 10/11 am and from 2 pm to 7 pm.

  10. This is a joke. Los Angeles public transportation sucks. Half the metro subway lines lead to nowhere, many of the stations are in the middle of the freeway, it takes more than an hour and half to go by bus from Westwood (West LA) to Downtown (East LA). To go from Westwood to Hollywood by subway you have to loop around entire Los Angeles.

    • These ranks tend to be highly inaccurate even when the comment is made by the authors that the rankings only apply to core city & not their metros. Take for example Austin & San Antonio Tx. Since the annexation laws are minimal in Tx Austin has grown to 260 sq mi & San Antonio has grown to 460 sq miles. Minneapolis, the highest ranked city is only 55 sq mi because annexation laws in Mn are very strict. The Minneapolis St. Paul metro pop is twice the size of Austin’s metro pop. If metro growth was the measure & all of the 75+ suburbs in MSP were counted it would rank higher than Austin’s growth. With 1000 fishable lakes over 10 acres each in MSP’s metro it arguably has the most attractive natural area of any city. So even though Mpls only ranks 5th on 5 of the 7 best lists, if it was to include all of its metro it would likely rank at the top of every list.

  11. These ranks tend to be highly inaccurate even when the comment is made by the authors that the rankings only apply to core city & not their metros. Take for example Austin & San Antonio Tx. Since the annexation laws are minimal in Tx Austin has grown to 260 sq mi & San Antonio has grown to 460 sq miles. Minneapolis, the highest ranked city is only 55 sq mi because annexation laws in Mn are very strict. The Minneapolis St. Paul metro pop is twice the size of Austin’s metro pop. If metro growth was the measure & all of the 75+ suburbs in MSP were counted it would rank higher than Austin’s growth. With 1000 fishable lakes over 10 acres each in MSP’s metro it arguably has the most attractive natural area of any city. So even though Mpls only ranks 5th on 5 of the 7 best lists, if it was to include all of its metro it would likely rank at the top of every list.

  12. Just make note that Madison, WI, usually near the top of all “Best of…….” cities lists, has lost its ranking in several categories because of our Governor of the last five years. His arrogant destructive attitude and actions coupled with his illegal and cover-up behavior of himself and staff, in addition to his very poor and uncaring decision making have given Wisconsin a status close to that of Mississippi.
    Fortunately his campaign for U.S. President ended rather quickly and we are very thankful for that, although not one bit comfortable that he has returned to ram through destructive educational policies. He could do best by focusing on a deep cleansing of his own life, rather than continuing to destroy the lives of so many of our citizens.
    Unfortunately, we are probably stuck with him for another three years and that is frightening, as he is out to destroy much of the progressive values and programs of which WI citizens are mighty proud.

  13. Hello to everyone,
    I grew up in the twin cities and i would say that it is one of the best places to raise your family, jobs just all around great places to live. But to each ot’s own!!!

  14. No doubt the Twin Cities is one of the best places on earth, specially if you need a good job and an affordable house. Well educated people, polite, liberal attitudes, good social services… I still miss the impressive public transportation systems of cities like Madrid, for example – I’m from there – but the light-rail system is a good starting point. But when I get up in the morning and the only thing I can hear is birds I realized my luck for living here.

  15. The Twin Cities have a lot going for them, especially culturally and civically, and there are many smart, wonderful, creative people doing good things there. There are also many great job opportunities and mostly good schools. It’s certainly more affordable than SF, DC, NYC, Seattle, and Boston.

    It also can be very hard to make friends and find a community, and if you’re not from Minnesota, be prepared for a kind of suffocating insularity and relentless self-congratulation. Transportation’s OK if you live in a a few specific neighborhoods; even then, it helps a lot to have a car, and for most of the city, not to mention a sprawling swath of suburbs, a car is absolutely a necessity If you have a decent job, you can still find a pretty nice house that won’t make you completely house-poor, but it is no longer an easy place to live if you don’t have a good job (although, to be fair, this housing-costs-to-income ratio is a growing problem in most cities over a certain size).

    If you like the prairie, the landscape is for you; if not, you will find yourself eternally longing for hills and rolling rivers, and either the majesty of the West or the lush green charm of the East, which no number of lakes can match.

    Also be prepared for five months of winter, much of it brutal (try waiting with your kid for the school bus on a pitch-black January morning), and all of it a huge hassle; followed by a month of mud and slowly emerging dog poop, two or three weeks of often chilly spring, a summer that can be glorious or can be a humid, mosquito-ridden sauna, and four weeks of fall before the cycle begins again. This is called “Oh, I like living where there are seasons,” even though there are many places where you can live where those same four seasons exist but in much better balance (including places where in spring you think you’ve died and gone to heaven; never once have I felt that in Minnesota).

    There are certainly transplants who come here and love it, and more power to them. For that matter, more power to the natives who never left (or returnees whose sole basis for comparison is either southern California or New York City) who also love it. But please please please: Just stop it.

  16. […] Less than eight miles to the south, a White child attending Lake Harriet Elementary in the heart of the Linden Hills neighborhood had 444 White peers and only nine who were Black when classes began last fall. For no reason other than being White, it is probable that this child comes home to a house that her family owns and was able to pay for with a household income that exceeds the state median. When she eventually starts at the comparably diverse Southwest High School, the proportion of her fellow students who are also White will diminish to 56.8%, but they will compose a part of the 79% of AP Test takers in Minnesota who are White alongside the only 4% who are Black. This child will likely graduate from Southwest within four years with 85% of her White peers, and when she does it will be her privilege to choose what is next. Riding a bike down Linden Hills’ quiet tree-lined lanes, this child who is White implicitly knows that she will not become one of the 73.8 people who are White for every thousand arrested by the MPD. For her, it is not difficult to understand why Minneapolis was #1 on a 2015 list of “Absolute Best Cities to Live In the USA”. […]

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