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April 9, 2019

Portland only Northeast city in U.S. News’ Top 25 ‘Best Places to Live’

Photo / Peter Van Allen Portland's Eastern Promenade, with its open views of Portland Harbor and walking trails, is among the city's outdoor amenities highlighted by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Places to Live" rankings. Portland ranks 23rd on this year's list, the only city in the Northeast to make it into the top 25.

Portland is the only metropolitan area in the Northeast included in the Top 25 “Best Places to Live” rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 list evaluates the country's 125 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and quality of life. Portland ranks 23rd, coming in ahead of Boston (27) and New York City (90).

For the third year in a row, Austin, Texas, takes the No. 1 spot, followed by Denver at No. 2 and Colorado Springs, Colo., at No. 3. Fayetteville, Ark., moves up a spot to No. 4, and Des Moines, Iowa, rounds out the top five.

While the majority of the top 25 Best Places to Live are located in the middle of the country, the tech boom has had a regional effect on the Pacific Northwest. San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle make the top 10 at Nos. 7, 8 and 9, respectively.

Washington, D.C., which dropped from No. 8 to No. 19 this year due to a decrease in housing affordability and net migration, joins Portland as the only cities in the Northeast to crack the top 25.

“Our Northeastern cities, which are epicenters of higher education and economic development, are not growing nearly as much as places in Florida, California and Texas," said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor for U.S. News & World Report. "Plus, they are expensive to live in. Top-ranked places have the characteristics people are looking for, including steady job growth, affordability and a high quality of life."

Several metro areas saw significant gains year over year. San Francisco moved up from No. 20 to No. 7 due to desirability, quality of life and job market increases. Despite expensive housing, the city has the highest desirability and job market scores among all cities.

Asheville, N.C., moved up eight spots to No. 16 due to slight improvements across the board. At No. 18, Sarasota, Fla., debuted in the top 20, with the highest net migration score and increases in desirability, affordability, quality of life and job growth. Tampa, Fla., boasted housing affordability, net migration, quality of life, and job market scores that contributed to its climb from No. 75 to No. 56 this year.

The 2019 Best Places to Live are determined in part using a public survey of thousands of individuals throughout the U.S. to find out what qualities they consider important in a hometown. The methodology also factors in data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals.

Here’s what’s said about Portland

In its summary, U.S. News identifies Portland’s metro population as 525,776, its median home price as $223,367 and its median annual salary at $48,970.

“The most populous metro area in Maine may be one of the smaller places in the top 25, but Portland residents are quite happy. Of the 125 most populous metro areas in the United States, Portland ranks sixth on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which asks residents how they feel about their hometown.”

In its Best Places scorecard, with 10 being “best” and 0 being “worst,” U.S. News gives Portland an overall score of 7.0, with these individual scores for five criteria: 6.4 for desirability, 6.4 for value, 7.4 for job market, 7.6 for quality of life and 6.5 for net migration.

“Artful living and farm-to-table dining are not just trends in Portland — they have been a way of life for years,” Ed Pfueller wrote in the city’s profile. “A ‘do it yourself’ spirit resonates throughout the region, so don't be surprised if a neighbor offers you extra produce from a community garden, home-brewed beer or knitting tips. All around Portland you'll find dozens of local entrepreneurs offering homegrown or homemade products, from mittens to coffee.”

U.S. News does offer a caveat about Portland’s $223,367 median housing price, which is higher than the national median average of $181,998.

“Though more people discover its charms, Portland is at a crossroads on how to move forward,” Pfueller’s profile notes. “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.”

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