It is virtually impossible to come up with one city which can hands down be considered the best. If at all, one can come up with a list of cities―in no particular order―that can be considered the best in a broad sense.
Since ancient times, geographic and economic factors have played a crucial role in determining the place of settlement for humans. While the trend continues, there have been a few changes here and there. Today, economic development is given more importance than the geographic factors. A city with ample employment opportunities, rich infrastructure, state-of-the-art medical facilities, good education centers, well-developed transport network, and a pleasant weather―as the icing on the cake―is bound to attract people.
San Francisco, California
With many startups from the Silicon Valley moving base to San Francisco, there is no dearth of jobs in the city, especially for those working in the field of technology. Some of the bigwigs of the tech industry, like Google and Apple Inc., are based here. As for the climate, it is mild all round the year, and thus, not an issue at all.
As the city is located in the close vicinity of San Andreas and Hayward Faults, the region is subjected to minor quakes. That though, has been taken care of whilst designing the infrastructure of the city. The cost of living in San Francisco is a little high, but definitely worth it, which is why it topped the 2012 list of Best Cities of America compiled by the Business Week.
Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and, according to the Sperling's Best Places, the best US metropolitan as far as summer comfort is concerned. There is no dearth of career opportunities in Seattle. The city is known to be a haven for those interested in start-up businesses.
It featured in Forbes' list of ten Best Cities to Find Employment and NerdWallet's Best Cities to Start a Business in 2013. As for the big names with their headquarters in Seattle, Amazon and Starbucks top the exhaustive list. The city is definitely for you if you can bear with the cost of living, which is slightly on the higher side.
Almost everybody knows that Portland is called The City of Roses, but very few people know that it is considered one of the most liveable cities in the United States. The city experiences temperate oceanic climate with a warm, dry summer, and a mild winter. Portland is considered one of the most environment-friendly cities in the world because of its efficient planning and public transportation network.
The economy of the city is primarily dependent on real estate and construction, with green architecture forming a major chunk of the buildings. Additionally, the city also has the reputation of being a bike-friendly city.
Austin, the capital of Texas, has come a long way to emerge as one of the major centers of technology and business. The city has experienced rapid growth in the last decade, which, in turn, has provided a major boost to the employment sector. The University of Texas located in Austin has been grooming talent for the technology industry as well as defense industry of the United States for quite some time now.
The city has a humid subtropical climate, wherein the summer season is hot and the winter is mild. Austin holds many laurels to its credit, including the 2nd spot in the Money magazines' Best Big City in the series titled 'Best Places to Live'.
If you have a thing for the outdoors, then Denver is the place to be. Skiing, hiking, biking, anything you name, and you can do it here. The climate of the city is typically characterized by moderate temperature and low humidity. The sunshine is abundant, with more than 300 sunny days every year. Its location on the eastern edge of the Rockies, shields it from the severe winter.
It is one of the highest major cities in the United States. 19 companies from Metro Denver made it to the Outside magazine's list of the 100 Best Places to Work in the US. In a survey conducted by the PEW Research Center in 2009, 43 percent of the respondents said that they would like to live in Denver.
Being the administrative capital of America, Washington D.C. enjoys many privileges. All the three centers of the Federal government are located in the city. It is home to most national monuments, embassies of various countries, and headquarters of prominent organizations, including the World Bank and Pan American Health Organization.
All these privileges along with the humid subtropical climate, well-planned city infrastructure, world-class restaurants, and most importantly, great career prospects with several companies moving in, make Washington D.C. one of the best US cities to live in. Additionally, it featured in the Economist Intelligence Unit's list of best places to live in the world on the 14th position.
Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, has been ranked as one of the 30 most economically powerful cities in the world, which in itself speaks volumes about the city. Boston is nicknamed 'The Athens of America' as it is an international learning center with a whole lot of colleges and universities to its credit.
Even tourism has a crucial role to play in Boston's economy. Boston has the highest cost of living in the United States, which makes sense looking at its position in the nation's most liveable cities. Additionally, it has been ranked as the Best City for Families by a parenting magazine.
Its reputation as an international center of higher education and medicine has also been a boon for its health care sector (as most of the medical facilities in the city are linked to universities) and economy (with a significant share of employment opportunities attributed to it).
While most of the large cities in US have a high cost of living, Pittsburgh comes across as an exception. In fact, the cost of living for the city is 12.2 percent lesser than the national average. Low unemployment rate, citizens' safety, and the fact that it is one of the least prone cities to natural disasters, makes Pittsburgh one of the best cities to live in.
In the past, Pittsburgh has been ranked as the best city to live in by the likes of Forbes (2007) and The Economist (2009). Additionally, Pittsburgh has also been voted as one of the Unexpectedly Romantic Places in the US by Yahoo! Travel in 2012 and Trip Advisor in 2013.
San Diego, California
San Diego, on the western coast of the United States, is the 2nd largest city in California. San Diego's pleasant Mediterranean climate, which was voted one of the two best summer climates in the US by the Weather Channel, gives it a definite advantage. The climate and its long coastline make it a popular tourist destination as well. Other than tourism, sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and military form the backbone of the economy.
With so many sectors flourishing in the city, the rate of unemployment is pretty low. These employment opportunities make the city one of the most sought after places in America. In the CQ Press' list of the Safest Cities in the United States, based on the FBI statistics, San Diego was ranked 2nd among the large cities.
The semi-arid climate of Honolulu with a temperature ranging between 65 - 85 °F is always a positive factor. More importantly, its location in the Pacific makes it an important hub for both, international business and military defense of the US. All in all, Honolulu is the city to move to if you are okay with staying away from the American mainland.
On the other end of the spectrum are the worst cities to live in the United States, such as Detroit and Chicago, where unemployment rate and crime rate are high, housing is costly, transportation network is poorly developed, and weather―for a part of the year―is intolerable. Nevertheless, it all comes down to your personal preferences. Living in one of the worst cities of the world with a secure and well-paying job does not seem to be a problem for most people. The problem though is that you are less likely to find such a job in these cities, and thus, heading for one of the aforementioned cities is a wise option.