Economy Watch: Virginia Beach, Seattle, Pittsburgh Ranked Top Places to Live

Cities with economic opportunity, easy access to entertainment and dining options, and higher affordability topped Wallethub's list of the most livable cities in the U.S. Livability helps drive real estate absorption and development in those markets.

Source: WalletHub

Among the largest 62 U.S. cities, Virginia Beach, Va., ranked the most livable one in a new report by WalletHub, followed by Seattle and Pittsburgh. Livability— which is related to cost of living and quality of life, but is more than either—is an important driver of real estate absorption and development.

Big cities epitomize opportunity, economic and otherwise, which appeals especially to young professionals seeking advancement. The other main draw for them is easy access to dining and entertainment options, which are comparatively scarce in more rural settings. As this kind of talent comes into cities, the influx spurs real estate growth.

Making the cut

WalletHub evaluated the cities using 50 metrics in five categories: Affordability, Economy, Education & Health, Quality of Life, and Safety. Individual metrics included housing costs, overall cost of living, unemployment, income and population growth, quality of public schools and hospitals, Walk Score and access to public transportation.

A top ranking doesn’t mean a place is especially inexpensive. Seattle, for instance, while getting top marks for the strength of its local economy and education systems, is quite expensive. Residents get what they pay for: Seattle is 50 out of 62 in terms of affordability. Other high-quality and expensive cities are San Diego and New York. Oklahoma City is the most affordable city on the list, but its overall rank is 28.

Compared to last year’s report, San Francisco’s overall rank dipped from No. 1 to No. 16., while Raleigh, N.C., dropped from No. 3 last year to No. 20 this year. Seattle kept it’s No. 2 ranking.