Atlanta barely cracks top 50 best places to live in new ranking

Atlanta may be No. 1 to its residents, but the metro doesn’t even crack the top 20—or top 40—in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the “100 Best Places to Live in the USA.”

In fact, you have to scroll way down to No. 50 to get a glimpse of Atlanta in the site's 2017 ranking, which includes the nation's 100 most populous cities ranked by indexes of value, desirability, job market and quality of life.

Compared to last year, however, Atlanta improved from its mediocre spot on the list at No. 61.

To compile the 2017 ranking, analysts at U.S. News & World Report gathered data from sources such as the Census Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Labor.

The data was categorized into the five aforementioned indexes based on subgroups including unemployment rates, average salary, average household incomes, crime rates, education, commute times and more.

For the seventh year in a row, Atlanta was named the top moving destination by Penske Truck Rental in its 2016 ranking.

The best place to live in the U.S., according to the study, is Austin, Texas, with an overall score of 7.8/10.

Rounding out the top five are Denver, Colorado; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

U.S. News & World gave Atlanta an overall score of 6.6/10. Here's a breakdown of how the city scored on each index:

  • Desirability: 6.8
  • Value: 7.0
  • Job market: 6.7
  • Quality of life: 5.8
  • Net migration: 7.1

Despite its not-so-high desirability score, the metro is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities. The AJC previously reported that according to U.S. estimates, Atlanta's population rose to more than 5.7 million residents in 2015 and the number of people living in Atlanta's Fulton County crossed the 1 million milestone.

Atlanta is also home to the largest aquarium in the Western hemisphere, CNN Center, hangouts like Ponce City Market, Alliance Theatre, the Fabulous Fox and Piedmont Park, not to mention a great number of award-winning restaurants such as Staplehouse, which was named America's Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2016.

When it comes to jobs, the metro was actually ranked the No. 6 best city in the nation for job seekers in 2017 by NerdWallet in a list of the 100 largest U.S. cities ranked by opportunities and how far paychecks go.

In addition, data from analyzed by the AJC showed Georgia is home to some of the fastest-growing businesses in America.

The ranking included 5,000 companies ranked by their percentage growth of annual revenue over a three-year period.

Fulton County had the most Georgia businesses on the list with 126 companies.

Atlanta's low quality of life index score may come from its crime rates. Data pulled from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, used in the U.S. News & World ranking, found that Atlanta has a higher crime rate than similarly sized metros.

But according to a previous AJC report, while murders in Atlanta are way up, overall crime is actually way down.

Arduous commutes, however, are an unsurprisingly consistent problem in Atlanta and in 2015, Atlanta's I-285 was named America's deadliest interstate by the National Highway Traffic Association.

U.S. News also noted that Atlanta has a lower score in college readiness compared to other similar metros. Forty metro Atlanta high schools are recognized in U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools ranking and two colleges—Georgia Tech and Emory University—are among the best colleges.

Learn more about the U.S. News & World Report study and its methodology.