According to Clever Real Estate, the best city in America isn't NYC, Washington D.C., or Los Angeles — it's Buffalo, New York! Over the past year, Clever conducted 16 city-focused studies that looked at the 50 most populous metro areas and analyzed everything from home prices and roadways to the best food and most LGBTQ-friendly places to live.
Despite never landing the No. 1 spot in any study, Buffalo's highest rankings were for the Best Commuter Cities and Inflation vs. Home Prices, taking the No. 2 spot for both.
Notable rank changes this year include significant gains for San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh — which all moved up over 20 spots — and substantial declines for Providence, Orlando, and Tampa — which dropped 20 places. Falling slightly by three places, Miami, Florida, finds itself at the bottom of the list this year.
The following cities rounded out the top 10 best overall cities for 2023:
- Buffalo, New York
- Denver, Colorado
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Portland, Oregon
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Austin, Texas
- Las Vegas, Nevada10. Cincinnati, Ohio
Best City for Real Estate
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sits at the top of the list of best real estate cities for 2023. Based on three housing studies that looked at rent prices vs. income, home prices vs. income, and price per square foot, Pittsburgh ranked as the most affordable city in the U.S. overall, while Los Angeles was the least affordable.
Cincinnati had the lowest rent-to-income ratio at 15.5%, while Miami residents shelled out 28.5% of their income on rent. The South Florida city also saw the most significant increase in home prices since 2022, with a growth of 16%.
For those looking to invest in real estate, Pittsburgh was the most affordable city to buy a home, where the median home price costs 3.2x the annual median income. San Jose, California, had the worst ratio at 12.1.
Unsurprisingly, California continues to see a mass exodus as home prices remain well above the national average. Four of the top five cities with the highest price per square foot are in California, with San Francisco topping the list at a staggering $716 per square foot. In contrast, Cleveland, Ohio, has the lowest price per square foot at an affordable $133 per square foot.
Home prices are a driving factor when choosing where to live; however, Clever also sought to find out where Americans want to live if money were no object. According to 1000 Americans, Seattle is the most desirable and underrated U.S. city, while New York City is the most overrated.
Best Cities for Food
The podium for best food city in America is a mile high thanks to Denver nabbing the top spot. Throughout the year, the Colorado capital received consistently stellar marks across six separate food-related studies. Its top rank came on the Best Burger Cities list, where it earned the number three spot.
Unfortunately, not all cities are a foodie's paradise. Virginia Beach, Virginia had a poor showing, consistently falling short in every food-related study this year.
Richmond, Virginia, takes the top spot for burger lovers based on metrics such as burger restaurants per capita and average Yelp ratings. In Richmond, folks can buy a burger every day for a year, and it would only cost 4.8% of their annual income, compared to the national average of 5.6%.
With all the extra cash, hop over to Pittsburgh and enjoy a cold pint in the country's best beer city. While home to various local craft breweries and nationally recognized brands, Pittsburgh takes the top spot due to its affordability of imported beer.
Look no further than Detroit, Michigan, for the best pizza in the country. Motor City is a slice above the rest regarding their 'za. Whether sharing a pie at famed spots like Loui's or Buddy's or delivery from hometown chain Little Caesars, Detroit's got something for everyone.
One of the most controversial categories this year was Best Taco Cities. Everyone has an opinion on who makes the best, but according to one Clever study, Austin is officially número uno. Clever looked at metrics such as the average cost of taco supplies and the percentage of taco restaurants. Austin residents have a host of local taco joints to choose from, where 7.4% of all restaurants in the city are taco spots.
The Texas capital was also named the best BBQ city. The Lone Star State dominated the top 10 spots, with San Antonio sitting comfortably at No. 3 and Houston at No. 7.
Best Public Transit System
New York City ranks as the No. 1 city with the best drivers, outranking other major cities primarily due to its major public transportation system, which ultimately contributes to higher road safety despite its reputation for gridlock traffic.
Jacksonville, Florida, was named the city with the worst drivers, where there are 10.9 annual driving deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to NYC's 3.3 deaths.
While The Big Apple might have the best public transportation system in the country, Salt Lake City took home the No. 1 spot as the city with the best commute, where local drivers lose just 12 hours to traffic annually. Houston was named the city with the worst commute, where residents lose 74 hours to traffic every single year.
Most LGBTQ-Friendly City
If inclusivity is the top priority when choosing a place to call home, San Francisco is the No. 1 most LGBTQ-friendly city in America. The Clever study analyzed the country's 50 most populous metros and how inclusive they were to the LGBTQ community, considering factors related to political protections, as well as social and community offerings, including the number of annual Pride events, gay bars, and the number of National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce chapters.
Memphis, Tennessee, ranks as the least LGBTQ-friendly city in the country. Tennessee's state equality tally score sits at a dismal -11.5 out of a possible 43.5. Additionally, there are only 0.22 gay bars per 100,000 residents in Memphis, compared to 0.63 gay bars per 100,000 residents in San Francisco, a whopping 186% more.