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Huntsville tops list of U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live

Previously ranked #3, Huntsville jumped ahead of Raleigh-Durham, NC and Boulder, CO.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Congratulations, Huntsville! You're at the top of the U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Places to Live and Best Places to Live in Alabama.

Huntsville got an overall rating of 7, scoring high on factors of Value and Job Market and somewhat lower on Quality of Life and Desirability.

City of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle believes the work over the years to build the city's industry and infrastructure has lead us to the number one spot. "It's really interesting because we can talk all we want to about strategy and plan and how we're making our community a better place, but when you have this validation like U.S. News & World Report, that gives you some backup. That gives you some evidence that you're on the right track that people ought to take you seriously," he said.

 We asked Battle if he believes the city is a 'boomtown' with the ongoing rapid growth and development. "I don't think we're Boomtown. We're going to grow, and we don't want to grow exponentially. We want to grow in measured amounts. We're going to grow between 4,500-5,000 people per year, and that's a steady amount that we can keep up with. If we do that and we make sure that infrastructure grows, as our population grows, then we can escape some of the mistakes that the other cities have made. We can escape the problems overrunning our infrastructure in traffic jams and traffic grid breakdowns."

"Our job right now is to make sure we're ready, for not the next five years, but we're ready for the next 10-15-20 years," added Battle.

See what they had to say about the city:

Once a sleepy farming town, Huntsville gained national recognition during the Space Race of the 1960s and is now consistently among the fastest-growing metro areas in Alabama. 

In the past, the U.S. government relocated a team of German rocket scientists to the area and opened a NASA center that would design the Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon. Today, Huntsville residents pride themselves on being a nerdy bunch. The metro area has the most educated population in the state, and a large portion of the population works in engineering and defense thanks to the large presence of NASA and the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal.

Huntsville's city center has undergone a renaissance in recent years. An outbreak of new construction downtown means more shopping, dining, and apartment options are available. Just west of downtown, a defunct cotton mill became a bustling arts center, and craft breweries, restaurants, and an ax-throwing venue have sprung up in a renovated middle school.

How did Huntsville get to be #1?

U.S. News & World Report looks at a number of factors in making its list:

  • Unemployment Rate
  • Average Salary
  • Blended Median Annual Household Income
  • Blended Annual Housing Cost
  • Crime Rates  
  • Quality and Availability of Health Care 
  • Quality of Education 
  • Well-being 
  • Commuter Index
  • Desirability Survey  
  • Net Migration (how many people moving into or leaving the area)

Learn more about how they rank the Best Places to Live.

Where did the data come from?

In addition to the information we sourced through our surveys, we collected data from a number of different government and non-governmental sources, including:

They pull from their own Best High Schools and Best Hospitals rankings to determine the quality of available education and health care.

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