When deciding where to put down roots, many factors are in the eye of the beholder, such as climate, politics, or proximity to extended family.
Other aspects are coveted by nearly everybody: affordable housing, access to well-paying jobs, a low cost of living, good schools, and quality healthcare. In its recently released ranking of the best places to live in America, U.S. News & World Report gathered data on these crucial components for the 100 most populous US cities.
They then categorized the data into five indexes for each city — job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration — to definitively rank these major metro areas. You can read U.S. News' full methodology here.
Scores for "value," a blend of annual household income and cost of living, and "quality of life," which accounts for crime, college readiness, commute, and other factors, are included below on a 10-point scale, as well as the city’s population and median annual salary.
46. Columbia, South Carolina
Median annual salary: $41,020
Quality of life: 6.4
Overall value: 7.7
Home to the University of South Carolina, Columbia exudes a college-town atmosphere that can be felt through its abundance of trendy coffee shops and hip bars. For the non-student residents, the town’s job market is on the rise, steadily adding positions in the technology and manufacturing sectors. Columbia’s cost of living also sits well below the national average.