Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

July 13, 2021

Portland cracks top 10 'best places to live,' but US News ranking adds warning

File photo Portland placed No. 8 on the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the "best places to live" in the country.

For the first time, Portland has cracked the top 10 in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of the country’s “best places to live.”

Portland is No. 8 on this year’s list, which was released Tuesday morning. That ranking, made among the country’s 150 largest metropolitan areas, jumps from No. 19 on last year’s list. Previously, Portland ranked No. 26, No. 27 and No. 23 from 2017 to 2019, respectively.

This year’s score puts the city between two Florida ones: Naples, No. 7, and Sarasota, No. 9. The top-ranked city in the U.S. was Boulder, Colo., and No. 150 was San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In its rankings report, U.S. News praised the "artful living," "do-it-yourself attitude" and "dozens of local entrepreneurs" in Maine's largest city. But the magazine publisher also included a cautionary note.

"Though more people discover its charms, Portland is at a crossroads on how to move forward. New development is often met with opposition, while demand for affordable housing is high. An aging rental and housing stock combined with a tight market on mid-tier units has left middle-income earners struggling to settle in Portland."

The Best Places to Live rankings are widely used as marketing tools by cities — as well as real estate firms, site selection consultants and companies looking to hire. Over recent years, Portland has touted its rankings on a variety of similar lists.

This year’s U.S. News analysis compared cities on the basis of 11 criteria in five categories: the local job market, housing affordability, quality of life, net migration and a “desirability index” based on a poll in May of 3,600 people across the U.S. about where they’d like to live.

Individual criteria ranged from unemployment rates to crime rates to a composite evaluation for the well-being of residents, based on their satisfaction with various aspects of their day-to-day lives. U.S. News said it obtained recent data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census, U.S. Department of Labor and the FBI.

Each city received scores on a 10-point scale within the five categories. Portland’s marks were: local job market, 7.6; housing affordability, 6.6; quality of life, 7.4; net migration, 6.6; and desirability, 7.9.

Portland’s scores also made it No. 9 in a ranking of the cities for their quality of life, and No. 1 when it came to safety.

Portland was the only Maine city evaluated by U.S. News. Across New England, the overall rankings for other cities are:

  • Boston, No. 31
  • Hartford, Conn., No. 53
  • Manchester, N.H., No. 67
  • Worcester, Mass., No. 83
  • Providence, R.I., No. 106
  • Springfield, Mass., No. 109
  • New Haven, Conn., No. 111.

Earlier this year, U.S. News released its annual ranking of the "best states," in which Maine placed No. No. 27, up from its last ranking, No. 32, in 2019.

U.S. News & World Report, which has produced the namesake magazine since 1933, calls itself "the global authority in rankings." It launched its first annual ranking in 1983, with the release of an "America's Best Colleges" report.

For more information about the 2021 Best Places to Live and the complete results, click here.

Sign up for Enews


July 16, 2021

Ouch! If you look at these ratings, Portland got "D" on the exam but they passed us anyway.
What glory is there in these scores on a 10-point scale:
local job market, 7.6;
housing affordability, 6.6;
quality of life, 7.4;
net migration, 6.6; and
desirability, 7.9

The poll itself starts out with very low expectations. If your kid came home with a report card like this you would demand the firing of the teacher. At least.

Order a PDF