2 Southern California cities ranked ‘Best Places to Live in the U.S.’ by Money

2 Southern California cities ranked 'Best Places to Live in the U.S.' by Money

Finding the perfect place to settle down in that checks all the boxes can be a difficult task. Most renters and homeowners want a city that offers the best combination of low crime rates, excellent school systems, a thriving local economy, access to quality healthcare and more. 

In a new report by Money, researchers scoured the nation to find the 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2023 with two Southern California cities making the list: Irvine (#13) and San Diego (#22).

Researchers considered a variety of aspects including the number of economic opportunities, quality of life, overall diversity, and the city’s future trajectory.

Irvine, California

Nestled in the heart of Orange County, Irvine is a bustling community that offers an excellent range of job, school, community and entertainment opportunities. Residents have no shortage of access to world-class shopping and dining at nearby malls including the Irvine Spectrum, South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island.

Outdoor enthusiasts have unparalleled access to over 60 public parks and 400 miles of bike trails. Access to nearby beaches is around a 20-minute drive and more than one-third of the city is preserved as parks, trails and natural wildlands.

According to city officials, for nearly 20 years, Irvine has had the lowest per capita violent crime rate for its size. Residents can easily enjoy their free time in the nearby metropolis of Los Angeles or spend a day up in the mountains in Big Bear. 

Money researchers noted Irvine’s school system is rated among the best in California with excellent universities including UC Irvine which ranked 5th on Money’s list of the Best Colleges in California and 9th overall for the 25 Best Colleges in America.

There are plenty of economic and business opportunities in Irvine with over 19,000 businesses calling the city home. Some of the largest employers include the University of California, Blizzard Entertainment, and Edwards LifeSciences LLC., according to Money.

Quick facts about Irvine:
-Median household income: $115,606
-Median home price: $1,300,651
-Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $4,345
-Population – 268,777
-Unemployment rate: 2.8%

San Diego, California

Known as “America’s Finest City,” San Diego boasts world-class beaches, a thriving downtown, temperate year-long weather and a laid–back lifestyle.

Residents can enjoy Balboa Park, a 1,000-acre complex that houses the San Diego Zoo, 15 museums, a horticultural center, the Olde Globe Theater, and more.

Those who enjoy the outdoors can access the city’s 340 parks and 40,000 acres of open space. Locals can enjoy quality kayaking, fishing, surfing, whale watching, and more every day.

In Downtown San Diego, residents can enjoy world-class dining, entertainment, coffee shops and more. Book a table at one of the city’s five Michelin-starred restaurants or check out over 120 breweries, brew pubs and tasting stores. 

The city is home to an excellent school system along with the University of California San Diego, which was ranked 7th on Money’s list of the 10 Best Colleges in California and 12th for the 25 Best Colleges in America

A prosperous job economy is supported by a number of IT communications companies, including Qualcomm and Nokia, along with a growing number of healthcare and biotech corporations.

“While the housing market in California is generally more expensive compared to the rest of the country, home prices in San Diego are more affordable than in other large cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles,” according to Money. 

Quick facts about San Diego:
-Median household income: $96,246
-Median home price: $963,261
-Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $$3,113
-Population – 1,381,275
-Unemployment rate: 3.1%

The study analyzed around 1,370 cities and towns across the U.S. and more than 480,000 data points across nine categories:

-Cost of living
-Diversity
-Economic opportunity
-Education
-Fun and amenities
-Health and safety
-Housing market
-Quality of life

The 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023 according to Money are:

  1. Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Tempe, Arizona
  3. Kirkland, Washington
  4. Raleigh, North Carolina
  5. Rogers Park (Chicago), Illinois
  6. Columbia, Maryland
  7. Somerville, Massachusetts
  8. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. Jersey City, New Jersey
  11. Boise, Idaho
  12. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  13. Irvine, California
  14. Fort Lee, New Jersey
  15. Arlington, Virginia
  16. Naperville, Illinois
  17. Milton, Massachusetts
  18. Fremont, California
  19. Carmel, Indiana
  20. Rockville, Maryland
  21. Franklin, Tennessee
  22. San Diego, California
  23. Hillsboro, Oregon
  24. Abington, Pennsylvania
  25. San Jose, California
  26. Alexandria, Virginia
  27. Chanhassen, Minnesota
  28. Denver, Colorado
  29. Overland Park, Kansas
  30. Morristown, New Jersey
  31. Lafayette, Colorado
  32. Camas, Washington
  33. Alamonte Springs, Florida
  34. South Burlington, Vermont
  35. Marietta, Georgia
  36. Kirkwood, Missouri
  37. Glen Cove, New York
  38. Kaneohe, Hawaii
  39. Hutto, Texas
  40. Madison, Wisconsin
  41. Salt Lake City, Utah
  42. Bentonville, Arkansas
  43. Sarasota, Florida
  44. Nashua, New Hampshire
  45. Norman, Oklahoma
  46. Greenville, South Carolina
  47. Juneau, Alaska
  48. Coralville, Iowa
  49. Jeffersonville, Indiana
  50. Sparks, Nevada

Money magazine’s full report on the best cities to live in America can be viewed here.

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