Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If you’re looking for the best place to relocate or settle down, Raleigh-Cary isn’t at the top of the list of destinations in the Carolinas and Georgia, according to Forbes.

It’s Augusta, Ga. – home to certainly more than the Masters.

Raleigh-Cary, a perennial leader at the top of many “best” lists for business, life and such, ended up 21st on the list of top 100 metros as evaluated by Forbes for its (By the way, Durham-Chapel Hill is considered a separate metro statistical area by the federal government.)

At least the Triangle area has more to brag about than Greensboro (30th), Charlotte (56th) and Atlanta (83rd).

However, Greenville and Columbia, S.C. ranked higher than RTP at 20th and 12th respectively. Charleston, meanwhile, came in at 27th.

Omaha, Neb. – home of a gentleman by the name of Warren Buffett –  tops the list followed by Little Rock, Ark., Jackson, Miss. And Des Moines, Iowa.

Forbes calculated its rankings based on eight categories:

• Housing affordability
• Travel time
• Real estate taxes
• Unemployment
• Vacancies
• Job forecast
• House pricing forecast
• Foreclosures

Raleigh-Cary (I keep wanting to write Triangle) scored best on jobs forecast (10th) and foreclosures (22nd) but faltered in housing affordability (74th). For current residents, that affordability figure isn’t bad news. That means our homes are holding value better than most other markets. But in terms of relocation, higher home values can hurt recruiting – especially in this awful economy.

Triangle residents also know how bad traffic can be – and the Forbes survey reflected that, ranking Raleigh-Cary 55th in travel time. (This info has to include I-40!)

Other rankings collectively pushed the Raleigh area down – 35th in real estate taxes, 42nd in unemployment (more than 8 percent), 42nd in vacancies and 41st in house pricing forecast.

What factors ranked Augusta so high?

Second in travel time (other than Masters week, of course) and fifth in real estate taxes.

At least Raleigh-Cary isn’t Atlanta – 93rd in travel time, 95th in vacancies, 92nd in job forecast and 78th in foreclosures.

And what about the Queen City? Try 82nd in housing affordability, 61st in employment and 74th in foreclosures. Interesting mix, eh?

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