New study names the top 100 best US cities to live in, including one Tri-Cities mention

What makes a city a good place to live? What differentiates the best cities?

Everyone will have different specifics. Some people like the rural outskirts, while others prefer the hustle and bustle of big city life. Some may prioritize walkability, while others may prioritize proximity to other cities.

A recent study took common priorities into account to determine the top 100 best cities to live in across the United States. Looking at multiple datasets across eight main categories, over 2,000 cities were evaluated.

The study through Livability, a community research resource, in partnership with data supplier Applied Geographic Solutions, took the best scores of those 2,000 for the top 100. However, the top 100 are not ranked, so they can be filtered by region and specific categories. This way, readers can see results based on what is most important to them.

There are five U.S. regions included. Washington is in the northwest region, along with Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. The northwest region had 15 cities in the top 100.

In Washington, four cities made the list: Vancouver, Spokane, Kennewick and Tacoma.

Determining the best cities to live in

The study looked at multiple data sets related to each city’s economy, amenities, transportation, environment, safety, education, health and housing and cost of living factors.

Some of these data points were:

  • Unemployment rates

  • Employment opportunity index

  • Tax rates

  • Rental affordability indexes

  • Income inequality index

  • Cultural and leisure amenities

  • Shopping, retail and nightlife indexes

  • Walkability

  • Median commute time

  • Population density

  • Air quality

  • Natural disaster risk

  • Crime rates

  • School quality

  • Life expectancy

  • Healthcare access

It is worth noting that the study had specific parameters for the 2,000 cities. It recommends specifically mid-size cities with populations between 75,000 and 500,000. Additionally, only cities with a median home value under $500,000 were considered. Between these two parameters, it’s no surprise Seattle didn’t make the list.

The list also had constraints for how many neighboring cities can make the list, a possible explanation for Richland and Pasco’s exclusions from the top 100.

Why live in Kennewick?

So, what was it that put Kennewick on the list?

Kennewick’s overall score was 745. Its best categories were transportation, environment and housing and cost of living.

“Three cheers for the Tri-Cities! Affordable housing, top-rated schools, and a family-friendly environment make Kennewick a great place to raise a family,” says the Livability listing for Kennewick. “Stunning Columbia River views and endless outdoor options keep nature lovers captivated, too.”

How did Kennewick stack up against other inclusions in the northwest?

Across the eight categories, Kennewick was never the best or worst in the northwest, always falling somewhere in the middle. Its scores were:

  • Amenities: 51 (Beaverton had the best in the northwest at 74)

  • Economy: 59 (Salt Lake City had the best at 81)

  • Education: 51 (Missoula had the best at 68)

  • Environment: 82 (Medford had the best at 90)

  • Healthcare: 51 (Beaverton had the best at 76)

  • Housing and cost of living: 69 (Billings had the best at 73)

  • Safety: 56 (Meridian had the best at 69)

  • Transportation: 69 (Medford had the best at 72)

The page also offered some fast facts about Kennewick, for anyone who might be considering a move to the Tri-Cities:

  • Population: 86,358

  • Sales tax rate: 8.7%

  • Median property tax: $2,753

  • Average commute: 18 minutes

  • Median home value: $337,311

  • Median household income: $76,737

  • Median monthly rent: $930

Livability praised Kennewick for its many parks and golf courses, plus the historic downtown area full of shops, restaurants and art galleries. The site offered recommendations for newcomers in Kennewick, starting with floating or paddleboarding in the river. It also recommended checking out the wine scene around Tri-Cities, starting with Badger Mountain Certified Organic Vineyard.

Other recommendations included foot golf at the Columbia Park Golf Tri-Plex, shopping at the Pasco Farmers Market, dinner at Europa, live performances at the Toyota Center and a trip to the Playground of Dreams for those with children.