Green Bay named the Best Place to Live in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report

How Green Bay earned the top spot in U.S. News & World's Report annual rankings
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:23 AM CDT|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 6:11 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - National rankings by U.S. News & World Report declared Green Bay the #1 place to live in the United States, moving to the top spot after several years just below the top of the annual rankings.

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. were ranked on a number of factors, including crime rate, the affordability of housing and goods, air quality and resilience to climate change. Overall, Green Bay scored 6.9 on the magazine’s 10-point scale, good enough for first place above 149 other metro areas.

In addition to the #1 overall ranking, Green Bay also ranked #7 for Best Places to Live for Quality of Life, #8 in Cheapest Places to Live, #18 among Safest Places to Live, and #27 for Best Places to Retire.

To Brad Toll, CEO of Discover Green Bay, the rankings are no surprise at all.

“It’s fantastic accolades from a highly respected publication. Of course we think there’s fun putting Green Bay at the top of the list. A lot of times, I think us locals, we don’t always recognize what a great community we live in,” Toll said.

The magazine’s annual report noted Wisconsin has high property tax rates but Green Bay has a low cost of living and home costs below the national median -- $247,000 in Green Bay versus $365,000 nationally.

“We’re still better off than a lot of communities,” Noel Halvorsen said.

Halvorsen is with Neighborworks, a non-profit specializing in affordable housing. “It’s a challenge, but it’s not as dire as it could be in some places. We need to capitalize on the opportunity to build more homes.”

Other advantages included its proximity to Milwaukee and Madison, Austin Straubel International Airport connecting travelers to even more large cities, and the Fox River Trail system for recreation that includes a “walkable downtown.”

Green Bay also has a stronger-than-average job market with large employers in the area, including paper mills, insurance companies, and the dairy industry. Annual salaries are below the national average but the unemployment rate is, too.

U.S. News & World Report touts for us, “Green Bay has the perfect mix of big-city amenities complemented with a Midwestern, small-town feel. This city boasts a thriving entertainment and arts scene, revitalized downtown, and two college campuses, creating an energy that may appeal to young families as well as retirees.”

“Every visitor that comes to Green Bay,” Toll said, “we always look at it this way: It’s a potential resident.”

Metropolitan areas that came in just behind Green Bay were Huntsville, Ala.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Boulder, Colo.; and Sarasota, Fla.