Sarasota’s No. 14 surpassed every other major Florida market on U.S. News’ list of top places to live in the nation.
The U.S. News and World Report study of the 100 most populous cities aimed to find the areas with the best value, job market, living conditions and quality of life. Denver; Austin, Texas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, took the top five spots on the list, but Florida as a whole performed well, with six of its metropolitan areas showing in the top 50. No other state was so well represented.
The study touted Sarasota’s year-round warm temperatures, award-winning beaches and prominent arts culture. The region also was lauded for being an easy drive to larger markets such as Tampa, which ranked No. 42, and Orlando, at No. 44.
Sarasota earned an overall score of 7 out of 10 points, getting strong marks for desirability and overall net migration, but being weighed down a bit by its average value rating. The study also cited Sarasota’s ongoing traffic and infrastructure problems as more residents arrive.
The prominent spot on the best place to live list joins a long string of accolades that Sarasota County has gained in recent years. People are drawn to this region for its amenities, but also for the feeling that the area leaves them with, said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County.
“It’s a place that’s just so inviting,” Haley said.
Larger cities in Florida with higher-profile attractions and bigger marketing budgets had a habit of outshining Sarasota in the past, but the kinds of recognition such as the best places to live ranking feed off of one another. Haley said she isn’t surprised that Sarasota toppled some its bigger neighbors as the prime place to live in Florida.
“There’s this growing recognition of what we have,” she said, “and it’s been building over the last couple of years. The awareness has grown. It was an uphill battle for us to get our voice heard for a long time.”
Jacksonville, Fort Myers and Palm Bay-Melbourne also took spots in the top 50.
Lakeland and Daytona Beach landed in the bottom 30, and Miami came in at No. 93.
Top 20 places to live in the U.S.
U.S. News and World Report’s best places to live:
1. Denver, Colorado
2. Austin, Texas
3. Fayetteville, Arkansas
4. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado
6. Boise, Idaho
8. Washington, D.C.
9. San Francisco
10. San Jose, California
11. Des Moines, Iowa
13. Grand Rapids, Michigan
15. Charlotte, North Carolina
16. San Diego
18. Omaha, Nebraska
19. Charleston, South Carolina
20. Portland, Oregon