NC, SC cities among best places to live in the nation – but some slipped, US News reports

The downtown Raleigh skyline is seen from South Saunders Street in Raleigh.
The downtown Raleigh skyline is seen from South Saunders Street in Raleigh. N&O file photo

U.S. News and World Report has a new list of the 100 best places to live in the U.S., and Raleigh and Durham come in together at No. 13.

The Raleigh and Durham areas were No. 7 in 2017.

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The new list released on Tuesday rates North Carolina's Triangle above Charlotte, which took the No. 22 spot, down from No. 14 last year. Winston-Salem is No. 43 (down from 37), and Greensboro picked up spot No. 60 (down from 51).

Greenville was the highest-ranking South Carolina city at No. 31, followed by Charleston at No. 38 and Columbia at No. 56.

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U.S. News author Chika Gujarathi said that Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are known for their research/technology roots and collegiate rivalries and are luring nearly 80 new residents each day with strong job growth and a high quality of life.

“Many people who call the Raleigh and Durham metro areas home are young, friendly, diverse and educated,” Gujarathi wrote. “They enjoy dining out in local restaurants — many of which have earned national accolades — and gathering over craft beers in one of the region's many microbreweries.”

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Gujarathi also pointed out that Raleigh-Durham has a strong sense of community, and the people who live in the area are friendly. She also said the green spaces surrounding the towns, family-friendly museums and growing art and music scenes make a strong case for the area.

U.S. News also ranked the Triangle the 17th best place to retire to in the country. Charlotte is the 22nd best.

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Charlotte is described by author Lauren Levine as a standalone destination area now, no longer living in the shadow of Atlanta or Charleston, S.C.

“Though Charlotte has evolved significantly in the past decade, the transformation is only continuing, as evidenced by the numerous construction cranes across the skyline,” Levine wrote.

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Columbia was described by author M.E. Smith as "a traditionally Southern place with a modern twist."

Traffic is mild, but there are enough people and businesses to make urban life enjoyable, Smith wrote. Much of the city's vibrancy comes from students at the University of South Carolina.

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"The abundance of oak, pecan and magnolia trees help the region retain rural flavor, while the downtown skyline is representative of the state capital's role as a growing industrial hub," Smith wrote.

Columbia also was listed as the 82nd best place to retire to in the U.S.

The publication examined 125 of the largest U.S. metro areas to find the best places to live. U.S. News used the unemployment rate, average salary, median annual household income, cost of living, crime rates, migration data, quality of education and health care, commute times and more data to determine the ranking.

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The top 10 cities are:

1. Austin, Texas

2. Colorado Springs, Colo.

3. Denver, Colo.

4. Des Moines, Iowa

5. Fayetteville, Ark.

6. Portland, Ore.

7. Huntsville, Ala.

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

10. Seattle, Wash.

For more information — including the complete rankings — go to realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-live.

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