California Cities Rank Bottom of This ‘Best Places’ Dashboard

“The survey says” examines various rankings and dashboards judging geographic locations, noting that these ratings are best viewed as a mix of art and data.

Buzz: California cities ranked poorly in an oft-discussed livability scorecard.

Source: US News & World Report’s annual “Best Places to Live” ranking combines measures from the 150 largest metropolitan areas for jobs, value, quality of life, popularity and migration trends.

Topline

My trusty spreadsheet tells me that the 14 ranked California metros for 2021 received an average ranking of No. 115 out of 150, with all but two ranked 97th or worse. These Golden State cities averaged an above-average 69th spot for quality of living. But, unsurprisingly, the state’s high cost of living drove the results down, with the 14th averaging a modest 137th for its value.

Now let’s compare California to Florida where its 14 cities had an average overall ranking of #48 (average 40th for quality; 116th for value). Or Texas, with 10 cities averaging 93rd overall (average 82nd for quality and 86th for value).

The remaining 112 cities outside of these three major states averaged 72nd; 76th for quality; 59th for value.

Details

Here’s how California’s 14 metros fared in this ranking, highlighting quality of life and value…

15. San Francisco: 44th best score of 150 for quality of life; and 130th highest for value.

36. San Jose: No. 4 for quality; No. 121 for value.

97. San Diego: No. 8 for quality; No. 146 for value.

98. Sacrament: No. 66 for quality; No. 130 for value.

115. Santa Barbara: No. 6 for quality; No. 146 for value.

121. St. Rose: No. 8 for quality; No. 142 for value.

126. Five Counties in Southern California, or Metro “Los Angeles”: No. 74 for quality; No. 148 for value.

135. Valley/Fairfield: No. 128 for quality; No. 140 for value.

136. Fresno: No. 98 for quality; No. 137 for value.

141. Salt pans: No. 20 for quality; No. 145 for value.

146. Modest: No. 128 for quality; No. 134 for value.

147. Stockton: No. 147 for quality; No. 134 for value.

148. Bakerfield: No. 146 for quality; No. 130 for value.

149. Visalia: No. 82 for quality; No. 141 for value.

caveat

Each scorecard uses a different scale to weigh the “best” geographic region.

So when the Niche website ranked 231 U.S. cities as places to live, California had five with an A-plus rating — Irvine, Torrance, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Sunnyvale. Texas had three; Florida, none.

But Niche also gave three California cities its lowest C-minus rating: Ontario, Salinas and Victorville to zero in Florida and Texas.

At the end of the line

So where are the best subways, according to US News math? Boulder, Colorado, then Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, Huntsville, Alabama, Fayetteville, Ark., and Austin, Texas. These are decidedly smaller towns with a strong Southern accent.

Quotable

“The ability to afford a comfortable life is of paramount importance to many, and the cost of living is a major consideration when people are weighing the possibility of moving to a new metropolitan area,” US News wrote.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Bernard P. Love