Dallas-Fort Worth has fallen from grace in a closely watched annual report of the best places to live in the U.S. The Metroplex appears at a dismal No. 113 (out of 150) in U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024.
Last year, DFW landed at No. 32; it was No. 37 in 2021.
Why such a plummet from the top tier to the bottom?
It has to do with criteria and how the metrics are weighted, which U.S. News changes from year to year.
“This year’s rankings are a reflection of the current economic, social, and natural factors that impact a place’s livability for its residents,” says Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, in a release. “People are considering more than housing when they look at an area’s affordability – they want to know how much goods cost in that area. The ever-present risk for severe weather and a community’s ability to recover – coupled with the area’s opportunities for social activities – are also taken into account when evaluating a best place to live.”
As in years past, 150 large metro areas were evaluated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. News' own internal resources. This data was categorized into the four indexes and evaluated using a methodology determined by Americans' preferences, the report's authors say.
In 2023, the report evaluated quality of life (36% of total score); value, including housing affordability (23%); desirability, including net migration (22%); and job market strength (19%).
DFW scored a middling 6 out of 10 overall. Breaking down the categories, ratings were:
- Desirability: 6
- Value: 5.8
- Job market: 6
- Quality of life: 6.1
- Net migration: 6.3
A few differences from previous years' metrics: 1) The Desirability Index this year included weather temperateness (the number of days annually that the temperature falls between 33 degrees and 89 degrees F). 2) Desirability Index also includes establishment-to-population ratio, meaning the number of restaurants, bars and activities per 1,000 residents. 3) Having been its own Index in previous editions of Best Places to Live, net migration is also now part of the Desirability Index. 4) In light of inflation, the Value Index – which previously focused solely on housing affordability – now factors in price parity, a U.S. census data point on the general cost of goods within an area, they say.
As in past years, DFW gets praised for "both big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living" and "an interesting mix of Texas pride and cosmopolitan offerings."
They cite DFW residents' friendliness and note that there are a lot more of us.
The Metroplex landed at No. 98 in U.S. News' 2023 Best Places to Retire rankings.
Dallas-Fort Worth isn't alone in its downward spiral. Almost every Texas city took a hit in this year's national rankings:
- No. 40 – Austin, down from No. 13 last year (and No. 1 from 2017 to 2019)
- No. 103 – San Antonio, down from No. 83 last year
- No. 122 – Killeen, down from No. 108 last year
- No. 128 – El Paso, down from No. 124 last year
- No. 131 – Beaumont, down from No. 109 last year
- No. 132 – Corpus Christi, up from No. 133 last year
- No. 134 – Brownsville, unchanged from last year
- No. 137 – McAllen, up from No. 138 last year
- No. 140 – Houston, down from No. 59 last year
In U.S. News' separate Best Place to Live in Texas for 2023, Austin landed at No. 1, followed by San Antonio at No. 2 and DFW at No. 3.
Green Bay, Wisconsin, grabbed the No. 1 spot nationally in 2023. Huntsville, Alabama (last year's No. 1) came in second, followed by Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina (No. 3), Boulder, Colorado (No. 4), and Sarasota, Florida (No. 5).