In a country as vast as the US, there are seemingly countless cities to choose from for those considering a fresh start in a new environment. To help narrow it down, we've pored over countless quality-of-life rankings for 2021 to find the five best US cities to move to in 2021. In no particular order, here are our top five American metros.
This coffee-loving city on the West Coast has a lot to offer, especially for young professionals. Seattle’s booming tech industry is a reliable source of employment, although newcomers will need to ensure they keep up with their competition – four out of every five people who move to Seattle have a college degree. According to the Seattle Times, it’s America’s most educated big city.
Lifestyle perks can be found here in abundance. For those looking to let their hair down after work, Seattle has a vibrant and varied nightlife. Outdoorsy types will also be right at home in Seattle, which is replete with green spaces and natural beauty as Majestic Mount Rainier overlooks the city while the shimmering Pacific Ocean hugs the coast.
On the downside, these benefits do come with a price, with Seattle’s cost of living being close to double the national average. The city’s competitive housing market has pushed prices up and is largely responsible for the high cost of living. If you can secure work in the city, though, salaries are also higher than the national average.
Read more about moving to Seattle.
With a city motto of 'Keep Austin Weird', you can be sure that you’ll never get bored in this diverse and lively city.
Austin is highly rated for both families and young professionals. It’s economically and ethnically diverse, has a good mix of urban and suburban areas and is home to a number of good public and private schools. The city is also famous as one of America’s greatest cities for live music.
Those looking for employment opportunities will find an abundance of large companies that thrive in Austin. A fifth of the city’s workforce is employed in management, business and financial occupations, while other major industries include manufacturing, technology, healthcare and education.
Living costs are below the national average, and there’s no personal income or corporate tax. But as Austin becomes ever more popular as a relocation destination, housing prices are rising sharply and can be overpriced compared to similar metro areas. Still, residents of Austin happily confirm that living here is well worth it.
Read more about life in Austin.
Saturated with history and culture, Boston is famous as the birthplace of the American Revolution – and today, the city still maintains an innovative and inventive atmosphere.
Boston feels like a small town, but offers all the perks of big-city life. It’s also one of America’s safest cities and is a good choice for families as well as single professionals. Recent graduates from the city’s numerous universities make up a significant percentage of all job seekers, and finding work can be competitive. Top industries include technology, tourism, finance, healthcare, engineering and education.
As the home of famed institutions such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), education is highly valued in Boston, with the most prestigious universities and colleges being located in the Cambridge area. The quality of education is high – about a quarter of all Nobel Prize winners have been associated with Cambridge universities at some point, either during their studies or in their academic careers.
Boston’s public and private schools are also of a high standard. The average student-teacher ratio in public schools is 13:1, a ratio that is rarely seen in public schooling, being more in line with private-school ratios. The abundance of safe green spaces in Boston gives plenty of room for kids to explore and play. It's said that every Boston resident has a park within 10 minutes' walk from their home.
As is common with large, thriving cities, the cost of living in Boston is far from cheap – especially when it comes to housing. On the other hand, the healthy job market, combined with high average earnings, does even this out somewhat.
Check out our guide on moving to Boston.
One of California’s most iconic cities, San Francisco doesn’t disappoint when it comes to quality of life. This multifaceted city attracts all sorts of people to its shores and is a hub for both business ventures and creative pursuits.
With the right skillset, job opportunities can be found with relative ease in San Francisco’s fast-moving economy. Silicon Valley – home of Google, Facebook and Apple – has plenty of opportunities for those in the tech industry. Meanwhile, tourism, manufacturing and finance are also strong industries offering well-paid work. Salaries are higher than average, which is necessary to shoulder San Francisco’s high cost of living.
The cost of housing in San Francisco is astronomical, with prices being close to triple the national average. Despite a ballooning population, zoning restrictions severely limit the construction of new housing in the metro area, which has resulted in a market that is drastically underserved. Other high costs to look out for include groceries and gas, both of which are more expensive here than in other parts of the US.
Despite its status as one of the most expensive cities in the US, San Francisco maintains immense appeal thanks to its wonderful year-round weather, beautiful natural environment, exciting arts and culture scene, and thriving economy.
Read more in our guide to moving to San Francisco.
Though it’s only a mid-sized city, Tampa offers a quality of life comparable to any of the large cities in the US at a fraction of the cost. Housing costs are fairly inexpensive compared to other parts of the country. On the flip side, salaries are also lower than the national average.
Tampa is commonly thought of as a retirement destination, but it has much to offer families and single professionals too. A number of high-profile companies have a presence here, with top industries including the likes of tourism, healthcare, finance, insurance, technology and construction. It’s not always easy to find a job in Tampa but work is fairly steady once you do.
The city is home to both a bustling nightlife and plenty of family-friendly attractions. From bars and restaurants to beaches and green spaces, Tampa has it all.
To learn more, have a look at our Tampa guide.