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The 15 Most Promising US Cities In 2022

Lauren Nowacki9-minute read
December 01, 2021

When considering cities with great potential, one may expect a list of the usual suspects – large, bustling cities in places like New York and California. But we’ve seen a change happen since 2020. Priorities have shifted and many companies have begun embracing remote work, causing many people to reassess their current living situation.

 

While urban areas will survive the pandemic, there’s been an increase in migration from populous metro areas to places with more space and a higher quality of life. In fact, many big cities are missing from this list entirely. Instead, medium-sized metros across America have taken the title of the most promising cities of 2022, telling a new story.

Finding The Most Promising U.S. Cities In 2022

What makes a city promising? It could mean many things to many different people. However, one important factor is the ability for its inhabitants to thrive – whether that’s in real estate, work, health or any other areas of life they wish to succeed. Rocket HomesSM teamed up with BestPlaces.net to curate this list, taking many of these life goals into consideration.

 

The researchers at BestPlaces.net used the following metrics to determine the rankings for the most promising cities in America in 2022:

 

  • 1-year home appreciation
  • Net migration in 2020
  • Job growth
  • Unemployment rate
  • Salary growth
  • Small business growth
  • High-tech GDP growth
  • Amenities
  • Culture
  • Walkability
  • Recreation
  • Violent crime rate
  • Property crime rate

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1. Boise, Idaho

Boise Idaho

  • Population: 749,202
  • Net migration in 2020: 2.28%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 45.3%

 

Boise ranked higher than 90% of the country for job and high-tech GDP growth and reported some of the lowest unemployment and property crime rates for the metro areas on this list. Those promising statistics along with the city’s population boom over the last couple of decades make it easy to see why Boise’s in the top 1% of the country for 1-year home appreciation. In the past 12 months, home values in the area have increased 45%. The capital city is just one of many places in Idaho that have made the state one of the top housing markets in America.

2. Provo, Utah

Provo Utah

  • Population: 648,252
  • Net migration in 2020: 0.94%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 31.7%

 

With an unemployment rate of just 2.5% – less than half the national average – Provo has a better employment rate than 99% of the country. This may be due, in part, to the tech companies moving into the area, which has seen 54% growth in high-tech GDP. Provo’s metro area has been called “Silicon Slopes,” comparing the new tech epicenter to Silicon Valley, with the added benefit of nearby ski resorts like Sundance and Deer Valley.

3. Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

  • Population: 165,697
  • Net migration in 2020: 2.87%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 40.6%

 

Coeur d’Alene ranks in the top 2% of the country for the magnitude of people moving in. In 2020, the city saw a net migration of almost 3%. New transplants, many from California, may come in search of more affordable housing, more space, better quality of life and of course, job opportunities. Coeur d’Alene has had more growth in available jobs over the year than 96% of the country.

4. Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida

  • Population: 384,902
  • Net migration in 2020: 2.09%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 28.2%

 

With its pristine beaches, laid-back vibe and abundance of top-rated golf courses, Naples is known as a popular place for retirees. And while over half of its population is 65 and older, the upscale beach town has seen an influx of people of all ages moving in. Naples ranks in the top 5% of the country for net migration in 2020, experiencing a 2.09% increase. Most of that migration isn’t from the traditional feeder markets of the Northeast and Midwest, where winters are harsh and income taxes are higher. Instead, there’s been a surprising flood of California buyers. Though Naples homes prices have appreciated 28% over 1 year, they’re still relatively affordable compared to California real estate. The median home price in the Florida city is around $399,000.

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5. Idaho Falls, Idaho

Idaho Falls, Idaho

  • Population: 151,530
  • Net migration in 2020: 1.53%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 25.6%

 

Job seekers may find ample job opportunities in Idaho Falls, where job growth is higher than 99% of the country. Salaries have increased, too. Ranking in the top 12% of the country for salary growth, the Idaho Falls job market saw a 6% increase in earnings over the last 3 years. And residents may be able to make that income go a little further as Idaho Falls has a low cost of living – 12.3% lower than the national average.

6. Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon

  • Population: 197,692
  • Net migration in 2020: 2.07%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 40.9%

 

An influx of retirees, young professionals and people looking to live in more rural areas has driven up housing prices in Bend, with home values increasing more than 40% in the past 12 months. That puts the mountain town in the top 1% of the country for 1-year home appreciation, with a current median home price of around $634,200. Even with tight inventory (another reason for higher home prices), many industry professionals expect home sales to remain strong throughout the rest of 2021 and well into 2022.

7. St. George, Utah

St. George, Utah

  • Population: 177,556
  • Net migration in 2020: 3.41%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 35.9%

 

For years, St. George experienced significant growth in available job opportunities, experiencing a 9.9% increase in employment over the last year. This puts the city in the top 1% of the country for job growth. And with the planned development of the new TechRidge center, a 100+ acre, multiuse complex, the city isn’t looking to slow down. In fact, this new development, with 3 million square feet of office space, has the potential to make St. George the next tech hub. With so much growth, it’s no surprise that the area’s net migration (also in the top 1% of the country) is so high.

8. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

  • Population: 2,227,083
  • Net migration in 2020: 2.32%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 44.9%

 

It seems people will pay top dollar to live in one of U.S. News and World Report’s “Top 5 Best Places to Live.” In one year, Austin homes appreciated almost 45%, which was better than 99% of the country. Austin also ranks in the top 10% of America for culture and has a diverse population, with more than 50% of residents identifying as Hispanic, Latino, Black, Asian, Native American or two or more races. The “Live Music Capital of the World” plays host to famous music festivals like South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and the Latino music festival, Pachanga Presents. It’s also home to museums celebrating the city’s cultural heritage and eateries blending various ethnic flavors to create such culinary treasures as Tex-Mex, Korean-Mexican fusion and Tex-Asian barbecue.

9. Ogden, Utah

Ogden, Utah

  • Population: 683,864
  • Net migration in 2020: 0.36%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 31.2%

 

Ogden, the city that produced the Winchester Rifle and now serves as the place jet engines, airbags and carbon fiber bike wheels are made, calls itself a “community of makers.” As such, it prides itself on its small businesses and works to support its innovative residents who are eager to succeed. One way it does this is by offering current and future small business owners free, one-on-one consultations and low-cost classes, seminars and workshops at the Weber State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in town. And this community support has paid off. The city ranks in the top 14% of the country for small business growth over the last three years.

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10. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Population: 1,390,785
  • Net migration in 2020: 1.5%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 26%

 

In 2020, Raleigh saw a net migration higher than almost 92% of the rest of the country. Home to three top-tier universities (Duke, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State), Raleigh tends to attract young professionals and hopeful academics from all over the world, who can work and learn in a safer environment than many other metro areas. Once considerably higher than the national average, the violent crime rate in Raleigh has dropped significantly over the last two decades. North Carolina’s capital city now has a better violent crime rate than 90% of the country.

11. Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

  • Population: 284,809
  • Net migration in 2020: 1.1%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 23%

 

Ranking in the top 15% of the country for salary growth, the Fort Walton Beach metro area saw wages increase more than 6% over the last few years. And there are plenty of opportunities to spend that extra household income. With several white sand beaches and shopping, arts and entertainment districts, Fort Walton Beach also offers more access to amenities than 98% of cities across the country.

12. Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham, Washington

 

  • Population: 229,247
  • Net migration in 2020: 0.93%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 23.5%

 

High in desirability, the coastal town of Bellingham ranks in the top 5% for recreation. With several beaches lining its waterfront and the North Cascades and an active glacier-covered volcano, there’s plenty to do on land and sea. Bellingham also ranks in the top 10% of the country for amenities due to its number of offerings – from restaurants, wineries and golf courses to the museums, historical sites and city parks. The city also hosts many festivals, parades, races and fairs every month.

13. Pocatello, Idaho

Pocatello, Idaho

 

  • Population: 87,808
  • Net migration in 2020: 0.6%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 27.2%

 

When you compare population sizes, Pocatello is a relatively small town compared to others on this list. But when it comes to small business growth, the city outranks all the others, seeing 0.88% growth. That puts Pocatello in the top 8% of the country when it comes to the survivability and success of small businesses in the area. At the same time, the city also ranks in the top 5% for high-tech GDP growth. Tech entrepreneurs may want to take notice.

14. Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana

 

  • Population: 119,600
  • Net migration in 2020: 1.22%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 36.3%

 

With real estate prices rising 36.3% over the last 12 months, Missoula ranks in the top 2% of the country for 1-year home appreciation. Home buyers can expect to find a median home price of around $459,400. The metro area also has better amenities and recreation opportunities than 90% of the country, making it a promising city in terms of year-round quality of life. The city features three local rivers, more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails and 900 acres of snowy terrain at its own ski area.

15. Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

 

  • Population: 538,500
  • Net migration in 2020: 0.71%
  • 1-year home appreciation: 24.7%

 

Portland is another city that ranks high in quality of life, sitting in the top 20% of the country for its cultural offerings and walkability and the top 5% for amenities and recreational opportunities. These qualities give Portland a high score for desirability, helping it beat out other cities for a spot on this list. And residents can have peace of mind while enjoying all that the city has to offer, as it’s safer than 99% of the country in terms of violent crime.

Methodology: Finding The Most Promising Cities Of 2022

To determine the most promising cities of 2022, Rocket Homes and Best Places analyzed 383 metropolitan areas, which are home to over 85% of all U.S. residents. Metro areas include one or more major core cities and the surrounding counties that contribute to the area's economy. As such, using metro areas as the basis for our study includes not only the primary cities but the surrounding suburbs as well.

 

By analyzing statistics in 13 key measures, insight was given into each area’s house price appreciation, high-tech and small business growth, job and salary growth, plus each metro’s amenities, cultural and recreational opportunities and crime rate. Rocket Homes and BestPlaces.net chose metrics that are as current and detailed as possible to discover the places that are likely to surge ahead in 2022, while still providing great livability and reasonable affordability.

 

For scoring and comparison, each data metric was normalized and transformed to a common range of 0-100 points. Weights were then applied to each metric to reflect its importance in the study and, from there, the weighted scores for each metric were summed and sorted to generate the final rankings.

 

Metric

Weight

Level

Source

1-year home appreciation

13%

Metro

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index by metro area

Net migration in 2020

13%

Metro

Census Bureau Population Estimates Program (PEP), 2020

Small business growth

13%

Metro

Census Bureau County Business Patterns (CBP), 2019

Job growth

10%

Metro

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, July 2021

High-tech GDP growth

10%

Metro

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2020 - 2017

Unemployment rate

9%

Metro

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, July 2021

Violent crime rate

9%

Metro

FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 2019

Salary growth

4%

Metro

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2020 - 2017

Amenities

4%

Metro

BestPlaces count of restaurants, retail stores & shops, social places, gyms, performance venues, more

Culture

4%

Metro

BestPlaces count of cultural events and venues, museums, orchestras, dance companies, performances

Recreation

4%

Metro

BestPlaces count of recreation opportunities, sports, golf, parks, hiking, biking, coastline, mountains, forests

Property crime rate

4%

Metro

FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 2019

Walkability

3%

Metro

BestPlaces Walk Index, measuring accessability of amenities by walking

Median home price

0%

Metro

Bestplaces.net

Cost of living

0%

Metro

Bestplaces.net

Population demographics

0%

Metro

Census.gov

 

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Table of Contents

    Lauren Nowacki

    Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.