List of best cities for young professionals ranks Raleigh and Durham high. But Charlotte beats them both

Raleigh and Durham are once again being named among the best cities to live in in the U.S. But Charlotte tops both Triangle metros on a new ranking.

U.S. News & World Report puts the Queen City at No. 9 on its new list of the best places for young professionals to live. Raleigh and Durham fall just outside the top 10, sharing the No. 11 spot.

The ranking looked at the 150 most populous metro areas in the country to determining where local job markets, quality of life (desirability) and affordability matched up best for Gen Z.

The weighted scoring system put the most emphasis on job market, a key reason the Triangle performed well, as Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University produce new graduates to fill a local labor market that’s in constant demand. And even though the cost of living is rising across the region, it still ranks favorably with 23.24 percent of the median household income needed to cover housing costs, according to the report.

The average annual salary in Raleigh and Durham was $61,759, while in Charlotte it’s $57,270, according to the report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Census.

Charlotte was highlighted for being a financial hub home to major companies such as Bank of American (NYSE: BAC) and Truist (NYSE: TFC). And its booming construction scene has transformed parts of the cities, such as South End, which is now a spot for millennials and Gen-Zers to live, work and play.

At the top of the ranking is California’s San Jose and San Francisco, which despite an incredibly high cost of living remain the center of the tech world in the U.S. and a place where average salaries are among the highest in the country.

Boulder and Colorado Springs sit at No. 3 and 4 with Huntsville, Alabama, in the fifth spot, due in part for its status as a home for the aerospace and defense industries.

In May, U.S. News put the Triangle at No. 3 on its overall list of best places to live in the U.S. Charlotte was No. 8.


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