RALEIGH – The Triangle is the sixth best place to live in the United States, according to a new analysis from U.S. News. But the region fell from its second-place ranking from the publication a year ago.

The rankings measure quality of life factors, the job market and economy, as well as value and what the publication calls “people’s desire to live there.”

Of these measures, the region ranked highest for value, with a score of 7.1, and lowest for desirability, at 6.3.  The region scored a 6.8 for quality of life and a 6.7 for its job market and its net migration, according to the report.

“Raleigh & Durham offer a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income,” the report reads.

But those housing costs are on the rise.

Launching a career? Raleigh, Durham rank among 20 best cities in U.S. to do so

Housing affordability a concern

The region’s housing market continues to see price appreciation greater than the national average.  With rising mortgage interest rates and rising home prices, housing affordability is at an all-time low, according to the latest reports from Triangle Multiple Listing Service (TMLS), which WRAL TechWire obtained by request.

“Affordability has been getting a double hit. Prices are rising, and rates are rising, causing the index, and buyers, to be squeezed,” said Matt Fowler, the executive director of TMLS, in an interview with WRAL TechWire.  “Currently at 71, the index is at an all-time low.”

Even though housing prices and mortgage interest rates are rising in the region, the Triangle is still attractive to many people considering relocating from areas with higher costs of living whether for an in-person or hybrid job, retirement or to work from home.  And that’s also true for those considering the region for an early career role, as both Durham and Raleigh recently ranked in the top 20 cities for launching a career.

“From a workforce development and talent attraction standpoint, a big difference between the Triangle region and Austin is the cost of living,” said Ryan Regan, vice president of economic development at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with WRAL TechWire this week.  “It is true that housing prices and overall cost of living are going up everywhere, but relative to our peer metros, it is easier to establish yourself and your career in the Triangle area.”

It’s more expensive than ever to buy a Triangle home, and interest rates are rising, too

Other regions, other rankings

Overall, the Triangle scored 6.7.  For comparison, only one area scored higher than a 6.8, and that was Huntsville, Alabama, which scored a 7.0 overall with a value rating of 8.5 and ranked at the top of the best places to live list.

The other cities that outpaced the Triangle on the list were Colorado Springs, CO, Green Bay, WI, Boulder, CO, and San Jose, CA.

While the region fell four spots in the rankings, other regions saw more dramatic year-over-year changes.

“Much of the shakeup we see at the top of this year’s ranking is a result of changing preferences,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, in a statement.  “People moving across the country today are putting more emphasis on affordability and quality of life than on the job market, which in many ways takes a back seat as remote work options have become more standard.”

According to U.S. News, the Triangle ranks as the 20th fastest-growing place in the United States and the 22nd best place to retire.

The publication ranks the Triangle first in the state, followed by Charlotte, Hickory, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Fayetteville.  No other North Carolina cities are ranked in the U.S. News report.

Charlotte ranked sixth in the nation in the 2020-2021 U.S. News report.