Niche Resources

Top 10 Best Cities to Live in America

When it comes to our Best Places to Live rankings, we often get asked what makes one city better than another. And while we know that everyone has their own unique preferences, we believe there are several aspects of a city that can tell you it’s an excellent place to live.

To come up with our Best Cities rankings, we looked at data and real user ratings for 228 American cities, which we define as urban areas with over 100,000 residents. We compared Cost of Living, Diversity, Weather, and more to figure out which would rise to the top. You can see all the factors we consider here, and you can read about the statistics that go into generating the rankings on this page.

Here are Niche’s top 10 Best Cities to Live in America for 2022.

#1. The Woodlands, TX

The Woodlands, Texas is a large community located approximately 30 miles north of Houston. A combination of lush natural scenery and all the amenities of an urban area, our #1 Best City in America has something for everyone.

According to a recent resident review, “The Woodlands checks all of the boxes for families … It’s relatively safe, peaceful, and community-oriented. There are restaurants, shops, and medical amenities throughout the township and virtually every neighbourhood has a field or playground nearby for families … If you are looking to move to Texas (and Houston specifically) and you have kids, then The Woodlands should be at the top of your list.”

Other rankings for The Woodlands:

#2. Cambridge, MA

Home to several world class universities, Cambridge consistently ranks high on lists of the most desirable places to live. Just across the river from Boston, Cambridge has a thriving arts and culture scene, a very strong sports presence, and a feeling of community within one of the country’s biggest metropolitan areas.

One resident review says Cambridge “offers the convenience of a city, a strong sense of community, and the unique characters of a historical town. Full of diversity, energy, and opportunities, Cambridge is an amazing place to call home.”

Other rankings for Cambridge: 

#3. Naperville, IL

Naperville is a suburb of Chicago and a consistently high-ranked place to live. It boasts some of the best school districts in the country and access to all the attractions of a large city while keeping the charm of a small town. 

One resident says, “I’ve lived in many different towns but this one is by far my favorite. The houses and community feel friendly and suburban, but the city itself is packed with storefronts and the nightlife. You get the best of both worlds: 5/5.”

Other rankings for Naperville:

#4. Arlington, VA

Arlington lies across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. It’s home to several national landmarks, including the Pentagon, yet it’s also made up of walkable neighborhoods.

According to a resident review, “You get all the benefits of living in a big city without the extreme cost. Although it is fun to take the train into D.C. to see the museums and visit restaurants, why bother when Arlington itself is so well situated? You can visit amazing national [monuments] and then grab a quick bite to eat, all while never straying from the easy and safe bike and walking paths. … Arlington is a great place for young professionals or students who want some peace and quiet, with all of the access to bigger city living like nightlife, restaurants, and fun activities.”

Other rankings for Arlington:

#5. Overland Park, KS

Overland Park is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area and the second largest city in Kansas. Constantly coming in at the top of our Best Cities to Live in America ranking as well as our Best Cities to Buy a House, Overland Park is both highly affordable and highly desirable.

A resident review says, “Overland Park is [a] wonderful place to live. With top notch schools, great surroundings, beautiful homes, and nice people, you really can’t beat living here.”

Other rankings for Overland Park:

#6. Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, is located about 40 miles east of Detroit. But there’s more to the city than the college town feel — Ann Arbor is also known as one of the country’s greenest cities and a great place for families.

A resident review reads: “Such a great city! Beautiful nature trails, wonderful restaurants and shops, and a fun and upbeat atmosphere. There is always something to do in Ann Arbor!”

Other rankings for Ann Arbor:

#7. Columbia, MD

Columbia is a planned community that sits between Baltimore and Washington D.C. With a stunning lake, outdoor activities, and a bustling shopping area, Columbia has much to offer its residents.

According to a resident review, “It is awesome! Love living here. Restaurants and everything are amazing. Love the diversity of the people who live here! Great selections of stores and all right here in town.”

Other rankings for Columbia:

#8. Berkeley, CA

Berkeley is a city located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Home to the oldest school in the University of California system (UC Berkeley), the city is diverse, dynamic, and one of the most progressive in the country.

A recent review says Berkeley is a “Fun and beautiful town in the Bay Area. Wonderful hiking trails and beautiful views from the mountains, especially on Grizzly Peak. Lots of great restaurants and coffee shops and is a nice college town.”

Other rankings for Berkeley:

#9. Plano, TX

Plano is a city located about 20 miles north of Dallas. Many of the country’s largest companies are based in Plano, and the city also has some of the best public schools in Texas.

A resident says, “Plano is a very diverse city with a load of activities and venues to attend throughout the city. The beautiful scenery allows an “open arms” welcoming to those that are new to Plano. Being close to Dallas, Texas, Plano has a wide selection of stores, sporting events, and restaurants to attend to have a good time with friends and family. The busy city shines light on dark times by providing many outlets for success everywhere you look.”

Other rankings for Plano:

#10. Irvine, CA

Irvine is a city in Southern California, located about 40 miles from Los Angeles. Near beaches, vast nature preserves and parks, and Disneyland, Irvine has something to offer everyone.

According to a recent resident review, “Irvine is a great place to live. It is safe and a lot of things are in proximity to you like the beach, major shopping centers etc. The streets are clean as well. The weather here is amazing.”

Other rankings for Irvine: