Here are 2020’s best big cities with metro populations over 3 million residents based on economy, safety, cost of living, schools, amenities, and quality of life, among other things.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix has been one of the fastest growing cities over the past decade. The metro population of 5 million residents continues to increase by 2% each year. With 300 sunny days a year, there is plenty of time to enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, tubing, and horseback riding in the city’s 189 parks and 41,000 acres of desert and mountain preserves.
But that’s just a bonus for most transplants who primarily relocate for the affordable cost of living and great job opportunities in health care, finance, manufacturing, and tech. Even with the growing infrastructure Phoenix has managed to keep traffic under control, but that’s also why it isn’t higher on this list since it is so spread out that it feels like a giant suburbia in most places.
9. New York, NY
Apart from the high cost of living, New York is actually a really great city to live in. The total crime and murder rates are well below the national average, making it one of the safest cities in the U.S., despite the metro population of almost 20 million.
Speaking of which, New York is a big city, the biggest in the U.S., which means there are always new restaurants, parks, museums, shows, arts galleries, and shops to explore.
Between all the unique neighborhoods in each of the boroughs, there’s so much going on, you couldn’t possibly scratch the surface even if you spent your entire life here. And with the best public transportation and walkability in America, it’s safe to say you’ll NEVER need to drive or worry about traffic again.
8. Houston, Texas
Unlike New York, which is currently losing residents, Houston has one of the fastest growing metro populations in the nation. And you know how they say everything’s bigger in Texas? Well, apparently so are the paychecks. The median household income is a whopping $64,000 buckaroos. To make things even better, you actually get to keep most of it since the median home price is only $190,000 and there’s no state income tax!
Now if that doesn’t leave you sayin’ yee haw! Maybe the incredibly friendly residents, amazing culinary scene, great schools and universities, vivacious nightlife, and museum district featuring 19 museums in a 12 block radius will. It’s really not a surprise that nearly 7 million people call the Houston area home. I mean, there’s something for everyone!
But all those people also create some of the worst traffic in the country since Houston is so spread out that you have to drive, although you probably wouldn’t want to walk around in the humidity anyways.
7. Denver, Colorado
Denver’s another one of the fastest growing cities in America- especially among millenials. Since just 2010, the metro population has increased by nearly 20% to reach 2.93 million, two-thirds of which are under the age of 44. Yes, that’s technically below 3 million, but Denver feels much bigger than a lot of other cities on this list. It has everything a big city could ask for: the best economy in the nation, professional sports teams in all 4 major sports, amazing concert venues, a thriving nightlife, an expanding microbrewery and culinary scene, and we can’t forget, some of the most amazing nature in the country is just a short drive away.
The median home price of 455,000$is a little expensive, but that isn’t much of a roadblock, considering all of the amazing job opportunities with a 2.3% unemployment rate and median household income of almost $69,000.
6. Boston, MA
Beantown feels like a picturesque living history book, but the aesthetic comes with a hefty price tag. At least it has some of the highest paying jobs in the country to make up for it with a median household income of nearly $86,000 and an unemployment rate of just 2%.
And when you aren’t working, this city has some of the best leisure activities as well. You’ll find amazing sports teams in all 4 major sports, world-class museums, concert halls and theatres, tons of green spaces and parks, beautiful beaches within an hour drive, some of the best seafood in the nation, and like I mentioned earlier, literally EVERYTHING here is a historical marker or site. Similar to history, education is everywhere too. The Boston suburbs are actually home to THE BEST public schools in the United States, in addition to some of the best colleges and universities in the world!
The traffic is the worst in the nation but then again, most of the city is walkable, bikeable, and has pretty good public transportation.
5. Minneapolis, MN
The Twin Cities are one of the BEST places to start your career, with tons of amazing job opportunities, 16 Fortune 500 Companies headquartered here, and a median household income of nearly $77,000. There is also plenty to do in your spare time with an excellent park system, free museums, great restaurants, and beautiful nature everywhere. Plus it’s one of the most well planned cities, the most bike friendly city for 2019, and the cleanest major city in America. All for a very affordable cost of living.
4. Dallas, Texas
There are a lot of reasons the Dallas-Fort Worth area is the most moved to metro in the U.S., with around 150,000 new residents moving here every year. Some people love the lively uptown and downtown scenes featuring the largest Arts District in America and tons of fun music venues and eateries, others come for the great schools and community, But most people move here for the booming economy. In fact, Dallas has the fastest growing job market in the country, primarily in tech, finance and defense.
Despite all this, the Big D has remained surprisingly affordable, with a median home price of just $223,148 and no state income tax. But like most sunbelt cities, public transportation is basically non-existent here, so there’s a lot of traffic.
3. Seattle, WA
Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t actually rain here that often; it is mostly just constantly overcast with a quick inconvenient drizzle. People obviously don’t mind because Seattle’s been THE FASTEST growing city over the past decade, with the population increasing by nearly 3% each year. This makes sense since Seattle ranks amongst the top 3 cities in pretty much every economic category. Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, and the many other fortune 500 companies headquartered here create one of the BEST economies in the nation with an astonishingly low 1.9% unemployment rate and median household income of nearly $94,000!
But things aren’t all work and no play either! There is SO MUCH to do here between all the unique neighborhoods, cultural amenities, infinite amount of coffee shops and incredible nature.
2. Tampa, Florida
50,000 new residents move to Tampa each year and not just Florida retirees because the median age here is only 34. There’s a big reason for that: affordability and jobs. Despite all the recent growth, the cost of living here is still incredibly affordable with a median home value of just $245,262. Wages are still lagging, but there’s no state income tax and the economy is really taking off, especially in the Healthcare, Finance, and Tech industries.
And best of all, even though you’re in Florida, you don’t really have to worry about hurricanes since Tampa rarely gets hit by them. So feel free to enjoy all of the amusement parks, gorgeous beaches, tasty cuban food, popular arts scene, and hip downtown, all with perfect temperatures in the 70s and 80s year round.
1. San Diego, CA
Between the immaculate beaches and downtown area, San Diego is one of the cleanest major cities in the country. Speaking of which, those beaches are some of the best in the world and the rest of the surrounding nature is pretty gorgeous as well. There are also great restaurants, breweries, nightlife, museums, gardens, and unique areas like Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter.
But this city isn’t just fun, the economy’s also thriving with plenty of well-paying job opportunities in the tech, military, education, research, healthcare, and tourism industries. The median household income is actually almost $80,000 and that number goes up by nearly 4% each year.
Again it’s California so it isn’t gonna be cheap to live here, but if any city is worth the price tag, it’s this one!
Of course, bigger doesn’t always mean better. If big city life isn’t for you check out the Best Medium Sized Cities, Best Small Cities, or Best Very Small Cities.