City hunting

Fort Worth named among 25 best places to live by U.S. News & World Report

Fort Worth among 25 best places to live by U.S. News & World Report

Fort Worth cityscape with Seventh Street Bridge
Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the best places in America to live. Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

U.S. News & World Report’s recently unveiled Best Places to Live in the USA, and Dallas-Fort Worth ranks as a top spot.

The site, which compared the 125 largest metros in the country, ranks DFW at No. 21. According to U.S. News, the city must “have a good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market, and a high quality of life.” 

DFW, which also ranks No. 9 in places to retire, doesn't perform as well as it did in 2018 (No. 18) or 2017 (No. 15), but U.S. News lauds the Metroplex for "offering both big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living."

"[T]he Dallas-Fort Worth metro area offers an interesting mix of Texas pride and cosmopolitan offerings," the report says. "The cowboy life still exists in Fort Worth, while Dallasites love the trendy local bars and numerous retail shops. And no matter which part of the Metroplex they call home, sports fans rally together behind their professional sports teams."

DFW also has the "small-town feel of Friday night football games and backyard parties" in its suburbs, the report adds.

"In those areas, residents can bump into their friends at the local Tex-Mex restaurant, children ride their bikes and joggers hit the pavement for evening runs," the site says. "But even in DFW proper, many people exude that Texas friendliness with a wave or a 'hello' to strangers."

For the third year in a row, Austin topped the list. The Live Music Capital of the World is also the only Texas city to make it into the top five. Denver, Colorado, took silver, and Colorado Springs took bronze, with Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Des Moines, Iowa, securing fourth and fifth best, respectively. Then there's DFW, and Houston, following at No. 30. San Antonio closes out the pack at No. 34.

So how’d Austin get to No. 1 on the list? How does any city get on this list?

U.S. News surveyed 2,000 American residents to weigh various factors about their cities. “These factors include quality of the job market, housing affordability, if people are actually moving to the areas, net migration, [and] desirability as well,” explained U.S. News Real Estate editor Devon Thornsby.

Quality of life is a huge component of the methodology. Things like high school education quality and average morning commute time factor into that category. Even with the city’s ongoing struggles with affordability and mobility, the pros still outweigh the cons for Austin residents.

Austin, with its technology boom, slew of universities, migration from other parts of Texas and the country, and general desirability, is caught in a perfect storm.

But other cities provide a good warning. “The biggest factor keeping places like New York City and Los Angeles from getting on the list is cost of living,” Thornsby said. “As a ranking that’s trying to help anyone make a decision, we have to take a realistic look at what people can afford there.”

Thornsby credits Austin’s “three-peat” win in large part to how much cheaper to live Austin still is than in Silicon Valley or New York City, where many of our transplants come from, as well as the overall culture.

“A lot of young professionals love the idea of being able to live in a part of the country that isn’t already so established with professionals,” she said.

Here are some quick stats for DFW:

  • Population: 7,104,415
  • Average annual salary: $51,250
  • Average high/low temperatures: 76.6 degrees/55.8 degrees
  • Median age: 34.6 years old
  • Median home price: $248,375
  • Average annual rainfall: 36.1 inches
  • Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent
  • Median monthly rent: $1,022
  • Average commute time: 28.1 minutes