What Are the Best Cities in America? (2022 Data)

Sam M. Huisache

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Sam M. Huisache

December 5th, 2022
Updated December 5th, 2022

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Multicolored map of the continental United States of America, cities and states are written out in various sizes where they are located

🏆 Being Friendly Pays Off 🏆
Our No. 1 overall metro, Oklahoma City, earned its spot by not only being No. 1 in our Best Ice Cream Cities study but also performing reasonably well across the board. Also known as "The Big Friendly," OKC earned the No. 2 spot in our Rent Prices vs. Income study due to its affordability.

Overall City Rankings | Best of Real Estate | Best of Food | Best of Hobbies & Special Interests | FAQ

This year at Clever Real Estate, we published 22 city-focused studies across a variety of subjects ranging from the best cities for coffee and weed to the most expensive cities based on price per square foot.

When we looked back on how the 50 most populous cities performed over the year, one city came out on top — Oklahoma City — and one surprising city fell to the bottom — Dallas. With such stark contrasts between how cities can fare in any given study, we were bound to ruffle some feathers this year.

Our food-related studies on the best cities for BBQ, pizza, and tacos really riled up America — even residents of cities that made our top 10 were upset they weren't No. 1. We also published studies on salient topics, however, such as the effects of climate change on home-buying and the stark differences between the average American's cost of rent and their income.

Readers find these studies interesting not only because of hometown pride but also because it's good to know how one's city fares against other cities. In our volatile economy, millions of Americans are making the tough decision to stay put versus move away. Our studies can help inform their decisions on whether moving might really be a good decision.

This year, four cities were tied for the most No. 1 rankings (two) across all of our studies: Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, and Portland. Despite earning the top spot more than other cities, none of these cities actually made the top 5 overall. Ultimately, it's more important for your city to rank fairly high across all studies rather than shine at the top for just a few while languishing near the bottom for most studies (sorry, Riverside, California).

This article mainly focuses on the top 10 cities for each study. You can see where your city ranks in every study here:

  1. Home Prices vs. Inflation
  2. Rent Prices vs. Income
  3. Most Vacant Cities
  4. Price per Square Foot
  5. Best Retirement Cities
  6. Best Places to Live
  7. Best Cities to Raise a Family
  8. Best Commuter Cities
  9. Safest Cities for Climate Change
  10. Best Coffee Cities
  11. Best Pizza Cities
  12. Best Brunch Cities
  13. Best Food Truck Cities
  14. Best Ice Cream Cities
  15. Best BBQ Cities
  16. Best Taco Cities
  17. Best Startup Cities
  18. Best Music Cities
  19. Best Stoner Cities
  20. Best Book Cities
  21. Best Bike Cities
  22. Drunkest Cities

🌟 Best of 2022 Statistics 🌟
  • Our No. 1 city in America for 2022 is Oklahoma City — our worst is Dallas. Find out more below. 👇
  • Oklahoma City's highest ranking was for Best Ice Cream Cities at No. 1. OKC has the highest Google search interest for sherbert than any other city. 👇
  • Home prices have risen the least in Cleveland since 2000, where they've jumped just 60% compared to the national average of 156%. 👇
  • Dallas' lowest rating was for Best Bike Cities at No. 50 — its best was Best BBQ Cities at No. 12. 👇
  • The best overall food city in America is San Jose, California — it was our No. 2 Best Taco City and No. 3 Best BBQ City. 👇
  • The worst overall food city is Miami — its worst performance in a food-related study was Best Pizza Cities, where it came in 45th place. 👇
  • Nashville is the most desirable place to live in the U.S. when controlling for how many Americans also find a city to be undesirable. 👇
  • Our least desirable city was Detroit. 👇
  • Major feelings were hurt when our Best BBQ Cities study was published. Find out where your city stacked up. 👇
  • San Diegans in particular were worked up about their No. 8 ranking in Best Taco Cities, one of our most controversial studies of the year. 👇

Best of 2023 City Rankings

Rank
City
Average Rank
Best Food City of 2022 Rank
No. of Times in 1st Place
No. of Times in Top 15
No. of Times in Bottom 10

1

Oklahoma City, OK

18

2

1

11

3

2

Raleigh, NC

19

3

0

10

2

3

Hartford, CT

20

36

1

10

3

4

Kansas City, MO

20

18

0

9

0

5

Indianapolis, IN

21

16

0

9

0

6

Milwaukee, WI

21

20

1

10

4

7

Cincinnati, OH

21

25

0

7

1

8

Providence, RI

21

8

1

8

4

9

Richmond, VA

21

17

0

6

1

10

Portland, OR

22

7

2

9

2

11

Salt Lake City, UT

22

5

0

9

3

12

Columbus, OH

22

15

0

7

0

13

Denver, CO

22

14

1

9

2

14

San Jose, CA

23

1

0

11

4

15

Austin, TX

23

4

1

7

4

16

Las Vegas, NV

23

6

1

10

4

17

Cleveland, OH

23

30

1

7

4

18

St. Louis, MO

23

28

1

7

4

19

Nashville, TN

24

19

2

6

4

20

Orlando, FL

24

11

1

6

3

21

Chicago, IL

24

22

0

7

4

22

Buffalo, NY

25

32

1

6

3

23

Louisville, KY

25

45

0

5

3

24

Virginia Beach VA

25

33

0

5

2

25

Tampa, FL

25

21

0

9

5

26

Baltimore, MD

25

24

0

4

3

27

Minneapolis, MN

25

26

0

7

5

28

New Orleans, LA

25

27

2

6

5

29

Pittsburgh, PA

25

40

0

8

6

30

San Antonio, TX

26

13

1

6

4

31

Philadelphia, PA

26

12

0

4

3

32

Memphis, TN

26

42

2

5

7

33

Boston, MA

26

31

0

8

9

34

Seattle, WA

27

39

0

7

4

35

San Diego, CA

27

9

0

7

5

36

Phoenix, AZ

27

38

0

9

6

37

Charlotte, NC

27

35

0

2

1

38

Birmingham, AL

28

47

0

7

7

39

San Francisco, CA

28

23

0

6

6

40

Washington, DC

28

29

1

5

7

41

Jacksonville, FL

29

46

0

4

5

42

Detroit, MI

29

49

1

6

7

43

Atlanta, GA

29

34

0

3

4

44

Los Angeles, CA

29

10

0

4

8

45

Houston, TX

30

37

0

4

7

46

Sacramento, CA

31

44

0

3

6

47

Miami, FL

32

50

0

5

10

48

New York, NY

32

43

0

1

9

49

Riverside, CA

33

48

0

6

9

50

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

34

41

0

3

8


Best of Real Estate

This year, we published nine studies related to real estate:

  1. Home Prices vs. Inflation
  2. Rent Prices vs. Income
  3. Most Vacant Cities
  4. Price per Square Foot
  5. Best Retirement Cities
  6. Best Places to Live
  7. Best Cities to Raise a Family
  8. Best Commuter Cities
  9. Safest Cities for Climate Change

No matter where someone is in the buying or selling process, these studies provide insight into important factors to consider. Our real estate studies also provide great coverage of what makes a city desirable for those wishing to remain or move to another area.

Let's dig into how the cities stack up when it comes to housing-related topics!

Home Prices vs. Inflation

Our Home Prices vs. Inflation study in March 2022 examined how inflation has impacted home prices over the years. We found that increases in home prices are actually outpacing the rate of inflation across the country — home prices have increased 1,608% since 1970, while inflation has increased 644%.

For the study, we analyzed publicly available data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Zillow Home Value Index, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cleveland earned the top spot in this study due to its low increase in home prices relative to inflation. Cleveland has seen the smallest increase in home prices since 2000, with a 60% increase as opposed to a 156% increase nationwide.

San Francisco at No. 50 saw the highest increase in home prices in the past 20 years — 290%. The typical home value in San Fran is $1,391,474. In Cleveland, it's just $202,044.

Top 10 Cities With the Lowest Home Value Increases From 2000 to 2022

  1. Cleveland, OH (60%)
  2. Detroit, MI (62%)
  3. Memphis, TN (72%)
  4. Chicago, IL:(73%)
  5. Hartford, CT:(87%)
  6. Cincinnati, OH (88%)
  7. Seattle, WA (90%)
  8. St. Louis, MO (98%)
  9. Louisville, KY (102%)
  10. Milwaukee, WI (103%)

Source: Home Prices vs. Inflation: Why Millennials Can't Afford Homes (2022 Data), Anytime Estimate, March 2022

Rent Prices vs. Income

For those still on the fence about buying a home, we published Rent Prices vs. Income in May 2022. As home prices increase, prospective buyers need higher than ever down payments to avoid private mortgage insurance. Yet at the same time, rent prices are drastically increasing while salaries stagnate, decreasing the amount of money Americans can set aside for a home purchase each month.

From 1985 to 2020, rent prices increased more than four times faster than income across the U.S. — rent prices increased 149%, while income grew just 35%.

Using data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), we found that rent prices have risen the least in relation to income in St. Louis. Unsurprisingly, they rose the most in San Francisco (which is also the most expensive city for home prices).

A one-bedroom apartment costs 253% more in San Francisco ($2,631) than in St. Louis ($745), for comparison.

Top 10 Cities With the Lowest Rent-to-Income Ratio

  1. St. Louis, MO (11.96%)
  2. Oklahoma City, OK (13.27%)
  3. Cincinnati, OH (15.62%)
  4. San Antonio, TX (16.36%)
  5. Raleigh, NC (16.59%)
  6. Kansas City, MO (16.95%)
  7. Buffalo, NY (17.12%)
  8. Louisville, KY (17.18%)
  9. Pittsburgh, PA (17.23%)
  10. Milwaukee, WI (17.36%)

Source: U.S. Rent Prices Are Rising 4x Faster Than Income (2022 Data), Real Estate Witch, May 2022

Most Vacant Cities

As housing becomes more expensive alongside increasing rates of homelessness, Americans are taking a closer look at just how many homes sit vacant each year, even though millions are on the market for housing — whether for rent or to own.

Most Vacant Cities in July 2022 took a look at which cities have more available housing than others using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Zillow, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The study found that there are more than 16 million vacant housing units in the U.S. and a national vacancy rate of 11.6%.

Orlando has the highest vacancy rate with 160,952 vacant housing units and a 15.3% overall vacancy rate. Tourist destinations such as Orlando have the most potential to have high vacancy rates, as many of the vacant homes are actual rental properties. This gives an opportunity for locals and city officials to drum up support for policies that give incentives to landlords to turn short-term rentals into long-term housing.

The least vacant city in the country is Minneapolis, which, despite having a 4.6% overall vacancy rate, sees slower growth in rental prices than other cities across the nation that are also experiencing low housing inventory.

Top 10 Most Vacant Cities

  1. Orlando, FL (15.27%)
  2. Miami, FL (14.75%)
  3. Tampa, FL (13.71%)
  4. Birmingham, AL (13.23%)
  5. New Orleans, LA (13.1%)
  6. Riverside, CA (12.13%)
  7. Jacksonville, FL (11.87%)
  8. Las Vegas, NV (11.34%)
  9. Memphis, TN (11.3%)
  10. Phoenix, AZ (10.22%)

Source: The Most Vacant Cities in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, September 2022

Price per Square Foot

Our Price per Square Foot study in August 2022 compared “how much house” a home buyer could get based on their budget in various cities. With increasing home prices, prospective buyers are really analyzing if the cost of homes is aligning with their size.

We found that cities in California are the most expensive based on square footage. The most expensive city per square foot is San Jose, California, with a median price per square foot of $801. Although it was No. 1 in the published study due to its exorbitant costs, that doesn’t actually make San Jose “the best,” so for the sake of overall rankings, the cheapest — and thus best city for price per square foot — is Memphis, with a median price per square foot of only $92.

The median sale price per square foot for new single-family homes in the U.S. has increased 310% since 1980, so it’s pretty impressive that Memphis has managed to maintain such a relatively low price per square foot over the years.

Top 10 Cities With the Lowest Price per Square Foot

  1. Memphis, TN ($92)
  2. Cleveland, OH ($103)
  3. Pittsburgh, PA ($134)
  4. Indianapolis, IN ($134)
  5. Buffalo, NY ($139)
  6. Birmingham, AL ($144)
  7. Oklahoma City, OK ($149)
  8. Detroit, MI ($152)
  9. Louisville, KY ($152)
  10. St. Louis, MO ($152)

Source: 2022 Data: The Price per Square Foot for Homes Has Quadrupled Since 1980, Home Bay, August 2022

Best Retirement Cities

Although more Americans are retiring later than ever, millions will still be taking the plunge next year. For many, retirement means relocating to comfier digs with more support for folks in their golden years. Our Best Retirement Citiesstudy in August 2022 compared the 50 most populous metros in the U.S. based on financial metrics such as property tax rates, increase in home prices over the years, and healthcare costs, as well as quality of life metrics such as the percentage of the population over 60 years of age and ratings for retirement homes.

New Orleans came out on top due to its sizable retiree population and high recreation score. What's more, New Orleans is much more affordable than many major cities and has an estimated annual property tax rate of just 0.7%. Retirees there pay 43% less in property taxes compared to the national average of 1.2%.

In this study, there were truly no "bad" retirement cities, as they all had something to offer. However, one city did have to be No. 50, and that city was Minneapolis. Minneapolis' ranking is in part due to its high Medicare costs and low weather score. The average monthly Medicare premium for Minneapolis is $76.92 at the state level, which is 279% more expensive than the national average ($20.30).

Top 10 Retirement Cities

  1. New Orleans, LA
  2. Birmingham, AL
  3. Louisville, KY
  4. St. Louis, MO
  5. Denver, MO
  6. Richmond, VA
  7. Tampa, FL
  8. Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Miami, FL
  10. Nashville, TN

Source: The Best Retirement Cities in America: 2022 Data, Home Bay, August 2022

Best Places to Live

Our Best Places to Live study in September 2022 was a survey of 1,000 Americans on where they would most want to live if given the choice. We also dove into what factors influence a city's desirability for those on the move.

We found that the majority of Americans agree that cities are less desirable or even overrated if they have high crime rates (58%), expensive living costs (56%), and high population density (51%).

Based on the average percentage of Americans who labeled a city as least desirable versus most desirable, Nashville came out on top as the most desirable city overall. It's relatively safe and has a rich local culture. However, as highlighted in the study, Virginia Beach was in respondents' top 5 most desirable cities and most underrated cities more than any other city.

Detroit was the overall least desirable city. Despite Detroit really standing out for its affordability and innovative music scene, the average American associates it with higher crime and harsh winters. This could change, however, as Americans start to prioritize affordability over other qualities.

Top 10 Cities to Live

  1. Nashville, TN
  2. Charlotte, NC
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Orlando, FL
  5. Tampa, FL
  6. Raleigh, NC
  7. Boston, MA
  8. Virginia Beach, VA
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Miami, FL

Source: Where Should I Move? The Best (and Worst) Places to Live in 2022, According to Americans, Home Bay, September 2022

Best Cities to Raise a Family

Raising a family during a time of record inflation is tough. Our Best Cities to Raise a Family study in June 2022 analyzed which of the 50 major metros is best for families looking to balance affordability with safety and recreation for their children. Metrics included overall graduation rates for local schools, cost of living, violent crime rate, overall diversity, and more.

Hartford, Connecticut, was our No. 1 city for families, in part due to its high number of libraries and low rates of poverty and crime. Riverside, California, ranked the lowest, but based on research, most major metros are fairly good places to raise a family. The bottom cities tend to be more expensive than the rest, but that doesn't mean they're a bad place to raise a family.

The cost of raising a newborn in Riverside is 24.8% of the median annual household income, and raising a 4-year-old costs 16.8%. In Hartford, raising a newborn costs just 19% of the median annual household income.

Top 10 Cities to Raise a Family

  1. Hartford, CT
  2. Milwaukee, WI
  3. Providence, RI
  4. Salt Lake City, UT
  5. Philadelphia, PA
  6. St. Louis, MO
  7. Kansas City, MO
  8. Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Oklahoma City, OK
  10. Chicago, IL

Source: Ranking the 50 Best Places to Raise a Family: 2022 Data, Real Estate Witch, June 2022

Best Commuter Cities

With the rising cost of living downtown or midtown in major cities rising, many are opting to increase their commute in order to save on housing. Our Best Commuter Cities study from May 2022 looks at which metros around the country are best for those who have to trek to work.

We analyzed the cities based on factors such as the annual cost of commuting, average commute time, traffic rates, and more to determine the best city for commuters. Coming out on top was Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo residents spend the least on commuting — just 15% of their annual income goes towards transportation, a 21% decrease from the average city's 19%.

Our bottom commuter city, Detroit, has high costs associated with transportation due to steep insurance rates. The average Detroit resident spends a whopping $6,280 on car insurance every year – partly due to Michigan's status as a no-fault state.

Top 10 Commuter Cities

  1. Buffalo, NY
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Milwaukee, WI
  4. Virginia Beach, VA
  5. Cleveland, OH
  6. Columbus, OH
  7. Hartford, CT
  8. Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Cincinnati, OH
  10. Raleigh, NC

Source: The Best and Worst Cities for Commuters in 2022, Clever Real Estate, May 2022

Safest Cities for Climate Change

Climate change is a stressful topic for everyone but one that many feel can't be ignored. Climate change is particularly salient for home buyers and sellers, as it can affect potential home prices and one's return on investment.

In our Safest Cities for Climate Change study in June 2022, we analyzed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Zillow, and more to determine which cities are the least affected by natural disasters and fatal weather caused by climate change.

Our No. 1 city was the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., which is at relatively low risk for wildfires and hurricanes, two of the most destructive natural disasters.

Tied for the bottom are the four major Texan metro areas: Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Texas overall is a fairly high-risk state for both wildfires and hurricanes, as well as deadly winter storms and heat waves. In fact, out of 145 billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. since 2012, Texas has been impacted by 73 of them.

Top 10 Cities at Lowest Risk of Loss From Climate Change

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Providence, RI
  3. Hartford, CT
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Milwaukee, WI
  6. Indianapolis, IN
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Chicago, IL
  9. Detroit, MI
  10. Phoenix, AZ

Source: Home-Buying & Climate Change: The Riskiest and Safest Places in 2022, Home Bay, November 2022

Best of Food

There are many factors that make a city stand out from the rest: its professional sports teams, music scene, culinary scene, and general expression of arts and culture. Nothing, however, get Americans worked up quite like discussing their city's food.

In our food studies this year, we broke some hearts and highlighted some underrated gems to determine the best cities for coffee, pizza, BBQ, and more.

One city consistently ranked high in our food studies – San Jose, California – and earned our No. 1 food city spot. San Jose is a great city to visit and live in if you're a huge fan of tacos and BBQ. San Jose ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in our best taco cities and best BBQ cities studies.

Rounding out the top five for the best food cities in America are Oklahoma City, Raleigh, North Carolina, Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City. Read on to find out what made these cities stand out from the rest!

The 15 Best Food Cities in America

  1. San Jose, CA
  2. Oklahoma City, OK
  3. Raleigh, NC
  4. Austin, TX
  5. Salt Lake City, UT
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Portland, OR
  8. Providence, RI
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Los Angeles, CA
  11. Orlando, FL
  12. Philadelphia, PA
  13. San Antonio, TX
  14. Denver, CO
  15. Columbus, OH

Best Coffee Cities

Milwaukee took the No. 1 spot in our Best Coffee Cities study in January 2022. Although it's mostly known for its breweries, Milwaukee also has a rich coffee scene. We analyzed the cities based on factors such as the local cost of coffee, local interest in coffee, the number of coffee shops, and more.

A cappuccino costs an average of just $3.56 in Milwaukee coffee shops, 22% cheaper than the national average. In our bottom city, Virginia Beach, a daily cappuccino would set you back $1,401 per year – that's a whole 2.63% of your annual income, significantly higher than the national average of 1.9%.

Top 10 Coffee Cities

  1. Milwaukee, WI
  2. Portland, OR
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Buffalo, NY
  5. Providence, RI
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Hartford, CT

Source: The Best Coffee Cities in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, October 2022

Best Pizza Cities

Pizza is a very polarizing topic in the U.S., and our Best Pizza Cities study in March 2022 really got the nation talking! Americans in cities such as Chicago and New York, two regions known for their great pizza, were pretty shocked to see their beloved cities did not make our list of the top 10 pizza cities.

Our metrics for "best pizza city" included factors such as average Yelp scores for local pizza places, the number of pizzerias, the cost of a slice, and more. Coming out on top was Detroit, a city well-known for its regional style of pizza but that sometimes gets overshadowed by Chicago and New York.

Detroit boasts the most independent pizza restaurants per capita (6 per 100,000 residents) out of any city on our list. Detroit also ranks No. 1 in "pizza passion" — meaning locals search for pizza-related terms on Google more than any other city.

In our bottom pizza city, Riverside, California, pizza is less popular. Riverside only has 5.37 pizza restaurants for every 100,000 residents compared to Pittsburgh, which has the most pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents, at 15.2.

Top 10 Pizza Cities

  1. Detroit, MI
  2. Cleveland, OH
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Pittsburgh, PA
  6. Indianapolis, IN
  7. Providence, RI
  8. St. Louis, MO
  9. Philadelphia, PA
  10. Virginia Beach, VA

Source: The Best Pizza Cities in America: 2022 Data, Anytime Estimate, September 2022

Best Brunch Cities

Brunch isn't a specific dish a city can really excel at, but rather, it's a vibe. Our Best Brunch Cities study in March 2022 compared America's 50 most-populous cities across metrics such as the number of restaurants hosting brunch, the cost of creating your own brunch for friends, local interest in brunch activities, and more.

It will come as no surprise to those who live in New Orleans or have visited that the city is our No. 1 city for brunch. The New Orleans culinary scene is as rich as its music scene, and visitors from around the world flock to the city to enjoy a version of the traditional NOLA breakfast.

In fact, New Orleans has 20 brunch restaurants for every 100,000 residents, the most of any U.S. city. Compared to our "worst" brunch city, Riverside, California, that's 18 more brunch spots per the same amount of residents.

Top 10 Brunch Cities

  1. New Orleans, LA
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. Portland, OR
  5. Milwaukee, WI
  6. Salt Lake City, UT
  7. Austin, TX
  8. San Jose, CA
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Chicago, IL

Source: The Best Brunch Cities in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, August 2022

Best Food Truck Cities

Food trucks have exploded in popularity since 2020 due to social distancing policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although social distancing is a thing of the past, there are still sizable communities of foodies who still seek out great food trucks. Our Best Food Truck Cities study in June 2022 analyzed cities based on the number of local food trucks, how friendly their local legislation toward food trucks are, local interest in food trucks, and more.

Portland, Oregon, is our No. 1 food truck city, in part due to its sheer number of food trucks. Portland is home to a whopping 10.2 food trucks per 100,000 people — 67% more than the average city in our study, which has 6.1.

Our lowest-ranked food truck city is Virginia Beach, which has about only 28 food trucks total. This is no surprise, as Virginia Beach has some of the most restrictive food truck laws (or lack thereof) of any city in the study. If cities do not make it legal for food trucks to operate around town, a food truck scene cannot emerge.

Top 10 Food Truck Cities

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Raleigh, NC
  3. Salt Lake City, UT
  4. Austin, TX
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Oklahoma City, OK
  8. Providence, RI
  9. San Jose, CA
  10. Tampa, FL

Source: The Best Cities for Food Trucks in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, August 2022

Best Ice Cream Cities

With record-breaking warm weather this past summer, treats such as ice cream are a cool welcome. Our Best Ice Cream Cities study in July 2022 looked at which American cities are best for ice cream lovers based on factors such as the average cost of ice cream, the number of ice cream shops, and more.

The best city in America for ice cream turns out to be Oklahoma City, which is incredibly affordable for ice cream. A small cup or cone of Ben & Jerry's will run OKC residents $4.07 on average — about 10% less than the national average ($4.50).

Our worst city for ice cream is Memphis, a city that ranked incredibly well in other studies but just missed the mark on this one. Memphis has a suspiciously low amount of ice cream shops compared to other major metros. Memphis only has an ice cream shop every 9 miles compared to 4.3 miles in the average city we analyzed — that's over double the distance.

Top 10 Ice Cream Cities

  1. Oklahoma City, OK
  2. New Orleans, LA
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. San Jose, CA
  5. Providence, RI
  6. Raleigh, NC
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Austin, TX
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Philadelphia, PA

Source: The Best Ice Cream Cities in America: 2022 Data, Home Bay, July 2022

Best BBQ Cities

Our Best BBQ Cities study in August 2022 was as polarizing as our pizza study. Despite all the well-known BBQ cities ranking fairly highly for this study, many folks across the country were still upset their city wasn't No. 1!

San Antonio came in No. 1 overall due to exceeding at our metrics, which included the cost of BBQ itself, the number of BBQ spots, the average Yelp rating for BBQ restaurants, and more. San Antonio stood out in particular for its love of brisket — no other city searches for brisket online more. San Antonio also has the fourth-most BBQ restaurants per capita — 4.2 per 100,000 residents.

Phoenix took our last spot in the BBQ study due in part to having fewer BBQ restaurants, low Google search interest in BBQ, and fewer BBQ events. Phoenix has just 0.9 BBQ restaurants per 100,000 people, for example, compared to Las Vegas, which has the most BBQ restaurants per 100,000 people, at 6.

Top 10 BBQ Cities

  1. San Antonio, TX
  2. Austin, TX
  3. San Jose, CA
  4. Nashville, TN
  5. Las Vegas, NV
  6. Birmingham, AL
  7. Tampa, FL
  8. Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Jacksonville, FL
  10. Kansas City, MO

Source: The Best BBQ Cities in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, August 2022

Best Taco Cities

Best Taco Cities in September 2022 was yet another popular food study that got Americans debating the merits of tacos and the restaurants that serve them. Residents of our No. 8 city, San Diego, were particularly vocal in the news and social media about not being pleased with their city's ranking. They believe they deserve the No. 1 spot.

Austin, Texas, took our No. 1 spot, right above San Jose, California, and San Antonio, two of the best cities in America for tacos. Some of the metrics we used in the study were the average cost of taco supplies, the number of taco spots, and the average Yelp rating for said taco restaurants.

Austin has the most taco places per capita, at 7.1 taco restaurants per 100,000 residents. That's 255% more than the average city. So, even if you don't think Austin has the best tacos, it sure has a lot more of them than any other city.

Our lowest-ranked taco city was Hartford, Connecticut, which just isn't known for tacos — and for good reason. Taco restaurants in Hartford have an average Yelp star rating of just 3.67, 9.4% lower than average.

Top 10 Taco Cities

  1. Austin, TX
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. San Antonio, TX
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Los Angeles, CA
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Houston, TX
  8. San Diego, CA
  9. Phoenix, AZ
  10. Riverside, CA

Source: The Best Taco Cities in America: 2022 Data, Clever Real Estate, September 2022

Best of Hobbies and Special Interests

Here's to the studies that weren't food-related and weren't quite related to real estate. Whether you're a budding entrepreneur ready to put the NFTs away and start a business or a musician looking for a new place to call home, the best of hobbies and special interest studies from 2022 have you covered!

Best Startup Cities

As we state at the beginning of the study: When starting a business, choosing the right location is everything. Our Best Startup Cities study in January 2022 looked at which major metros are the best for those starting a growing business of their own.

To determine which cities were best for startups, we looked at several factors, ranging from a metro's rate of growth in employment to its number of business applications in recent years

Based on our metrics, Las Vegas came out on top. Our No. 1 city may be known as more of a party and vacation destination, but it has a growing reputation for being a key business hub in the U.S. Of all the cities in our study, Las Vegas has the ninth-lowest incorporation fee ($75) and the lowest company tax rate (0.6%). Nevada also does not impose a personal income tax.

By comparison, the worst city for startups was Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford's incorporation fee costs $455 — more than 3x the national average ($135).

Top 10 Startup Cities

  1. Las Vegas, NV
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. Tampa, FL
  7. Phoenix, AZ
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Kansas City, MO

Source: 2022 Data: What Are the Best Cities to Start a Business?, Real Estate Witch, January 2022

Best Music Cities

For many, a city's music scene is just as important as, if not more important than, the quality of restaurants and local sports teams. In Best Music Cities in February 2022, we look at which cities around the country are the best for musicians and music-lovers alike. Metrics included factors such as general interest in music-related topics, the average cost of concert tickets, the number of music festivals, and more.

The usual suspects came out on top — Nashville is, unsurprisingly, the No. 1. music city for 2022. Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, ranked No, 3, and No. 4, respectively, matching their well-known reputations for being some of the best places in the world for music.

However, Indianapolis at No. 2 is a shocker for many. Turns out, Indianapolis pays musicians more than other cities and has a higher overall interest in music compared to other metros. Indianapolis ranks No. 5 in Google Trends for both alternative music and blues, and full-time musicians in Indianapolis earn more per hour ($31.40) than creatives in 40% of the cities studied.

Readers may be surprised to find out that Miami was actually the bottom music city. Although it has an incredible nightlife scene, it doesn't have quite as many live music performances on a regular basis compared to other major metros. Miami ranked No. 49 out of 50 cities in our study in terms of small concert venues, with a mere 0.62 venues per capita. In comparison, the average city in our study has 2.9 concert venues per capita – an unfortunate 79% more than Miami.

Top 10 Music Cities

  1. Nashville, TN
  2. Indianapolis, IN
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Austin, TX
  5. Raleigh, NC
  6. Salt Lake City, UT
  7. St. Louis, MO
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Buffalo, NY

Source: The Best Music Cities in the U.S. (2022 Data), Clever Real Estate, August 2022

Best Stoner Cities

With cannabis legalization becoming more common at the state level around the country, it's time for entrepreneurs to start paying attention to the vast opportunity that lies in weed businesses. Our Best Stoner Cities study from April 2022, however, is not only a great read for those looking to get into the cannabis industry but also for weed aficionados planning their next cannabis-focused vacation (or long-term move!).

Unsurprisingly, Denver came out on top as our No. 1 stoner city. Denver is in a legal state and has more than 7x the number of dispensaries (9.8 per 100,000 residents) than the national average (1.4).

In addition to a high number of dispensaries, other metrics in our ranking were weed's legal status in a state (very important), general interest in weed, number of Taco Bells (yep), cost of various weed products, and more to come up with our list of best stoner cities.

Shockingly, Oklahoma City ranks No. 1 for “pot passion,” even though cannabis is only legal for medicinal use in Oklahoma. OKC residents search for marijuana-related terms on Google 117% more than the national average.

Our bottom city for stoners is Washington, D.C. Despite having friendlier laws than several cities in our study, recreational cannabis sales are prohibited within city limits, resulting in 11% fewer dispensaries (1.2 per 100,000 residents) and 15% fewer head shops (0.7 per 100,000 residents) than the average city.

Top 10 Stoner Cities

  1. Denver, CO
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Sacramento, CA
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. San Diego, CA
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. Phoenix, AZ

Source: We Found the Best Weed Cities in the U.S. (2022 Data), Real Estate Witch, April 2022

Best Book Cities

Bookworms rejoice! Our Best Book Cities study in April 2022 looked at the best major metros around the country for those who want to live in a bookish town or those looking to embark on a literary vacation. For this study, we analyzed cities based on metrics such as the number of bookstores and libraries per capita, literacy rates, and more.

Providence, Rhode Island, is our No. 1 book city for 2022, and, it's well-deserved. Providence is home to a whopping 8.6 libraries per 100,000 residents – that's 82% more than the average city has at 4.7.

Las Vegas, however, was our lowest-ranked city for book-lovers. Las Vegas is home to just 1.7 libraries per 100,000 residents compared to 4.7 libraries per 100,000 residents in the average city in our study, a 63% drop-off. Amidst all that partying, it seems folks just don't have time to read.

Top 10 Book Cities

  1. Providence, RI
  2. Hartford, CT
  3. Boston, MA
  4. San Jose, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Washington, DC
  7. Baltimore, MD
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. Minneapolis, MN
  10. Portland, OR

Source: The Best Book Places in the U.S. (2022 Data), Clever Real Estate, October 2022

Best Bike Cities

It's not always easy being a bicyclist. Some cities just aren't designed with biker safety in mind.

Our Best Bike Cities study from May 2022 measures just how friendly a city is for cyclists. For those who really value biking as a core hobby and interest, a city's bikeability can really determine what city they choose to call home.

Factors we examined for the best bike cities included a city's calculated "bikeability score," number of bike shops, number of bike share stations, and more.

According to our metrics, Portland is the best city in the U.S. for bicyclists. With a bikeability score of 83 out of 100, Portland is also home to the most bicycle shops per capita (3.5 per 100,000 residents) of any other major metro.

Our worst city for bicyclists is Dallas. Most Texan cities are sprawling with big highways designed for a large number of cars. Dallas lives up to that reputation by having zero bike share stations and just 0.09 bike shops for every 100,000 residents.

Top 10 Bike Cities

  1. Portland, OR
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. San Jose, CA
  4. Minneapolis, MN
  5. Sacramento, CA
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Salt Lake City, UT
  10. Seattle, WA

Source: The Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the U.S. (2022 Data), Anytime Estimate, September 2022

Drunkest Cities

We must mention that in a study of the drunkest cities in America, being the drunkest city is not necessarily a good thing and won't earn you any awards from us at Clever. Our Drunkest Cities study from October 2022 ranked cities on factors such as the number of bars per capita, cost of alcoholic beverages, number of alcohol-involved deaths, and more.

In the study itself, the drunkest city is ranked No. 1, but for the purposes of our Best of 2022 ranking, the least drunk city reigns supreme. That spot surprisingly goes to Memphis, Tennessee.

Although Memphis has a rich music scene and party culture, it doesn't seem to have as much of a heavy association with alcohol as other "party" cities. Compared to other cities on the list, it's also much safer for drinking and has a 22% lower excessive drinking rate (15.6%) than average. Its alcohol-impaired driving death rate is also just 18.4%, 31.9% lower than the national rate of 27%.

The drunkest city title goes to — surprise, surprise — Milwaukee. With all of its breweries and love of beer come some downsides, however. Milwaukee, regrettably, scored only 26.6 out of 100 for safety, making it 55% less safe than the national average for cities (59.6). This is mostly due to two factors: a rate of excessive drinking that is 23% higher than normal (24.6%) — the highest incidence of excessive drinking in our study — and a percentage of alcohol-related driving deaths that is 3.7% higher than average (28%).

Top 10 Least Drunk Cities (or Cities That Are Safest to Get Drunk in)

  1. Memphis, TN
  2. Birmingham, AL
  3. Atlanta, GA
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Salt Lake City, UT
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Baltimore, MD
  8. Indianapolis, IN
  9. Miami, FL
  10. Riverside, CA

Source: The Drunkest Cities in America: 2022 Data, Real Estate Witch, October 2022

Methodology

For the overall rankings, Clever compared the 50 most-populous cities based on normalized averages of each city’s score across 22 different weighted rankings conducted throughout 2022.

For the food-specific rankings, Clever compared the 50 most-populous cities based on normalized averages of each city’s score across eight different food and beverage-related weighted rankings conducted throughout 2022.

About Clever

Since 2017, Clever Real Estate has been on a mission to make selling or buying a home easier and more affordable for everyone. 12 million annual readers rely on Clever's library of educational content and data-driven research to make smarter real estate decisions—and to date, Clever has helped consumers save more than $82 million on realtor fees. Clever's research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

This year, San Jose, California, ranked as the No. 1 food city in the U.S. Although it didn't take the No. 1 spot in a particular study this year, it ranked fairly high across the board consistently. For example, San Jose took the coveted No. 2 Best Taco City title this year.

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