Throughout the months-long process of creating our 2022 list, we kept returning to the question, "best places to live for whom?"" To offer a more equitable answer, we took a hard look at the cities that we have featured in previous years. They're often quaint, affordable — and unintentionally yet overwhelmingly white. We wanted to create a more welcoming list for a broader group of people this year, so we restructured our data gathering and ranking processes to reflect that priority.
Chief among those changes included introducing new data related to national heritage, languages spoken at home and religious diversity — in addition to the metrics we already gather on racial diversity. We also weighted these factors highly. While seeking places that are diverse in this more traditional sense of the word, we also prioritized places that gave us more regional diversity and strove to include cities of all sizes by lifting the population limit that we often relied on in previous years. This opened up a new tier of larger (and often more diverse) candidates.
With these goals in mind, we first gathered data on places that:
These hard filters generated a batch of 1,370 places to rank. We then gathered approximately 350 pieces of data on each place, totaling more than 480,000 data points.
We grouped the data into nine primary ranking factors:
After scoring the data, we were left with a short list of about 125. From there, our team of writers and editors vetted the top contenders, flagging pros and cons of each place as well as any major deal-breakers that data and numbers wouldn’t surface. During this stage, we also ensured that various Census regions and divisions were represented.
The results, we hope, provide an option or two for everyone, no matter their background or stage of life.
Our data, research and editorial team includes five editors, eight writers and our long-time data partner Witlytic. This project would not have been possible without the help from Money's art, development, production and sales teams.
A special thank you to our many data providers, including:
American Alliance of Museums, American Medical Association, ATTOM Data Solutions, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Care.com, Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Council for Community and Economic Research, County Health Rankings, Datafiniti, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environment Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Insure.com, Internal Revenue Service, Kaiser Family Foundation, Moody's Analytics, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Parkserve, Realtor.com, SchoolDigger, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, STI: Popstats, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Witlytic