Tampa Bay is growing as a destination. According to the U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Places to Live" list, the bay area ranked No. 56 among metros, rocketing up from its No. 75 spot last year.
"Living in the Tampa Bay area is like being on vacation all year," the ranking said. "Residents of the Tampa Bay area enjoy both a laid-back beach lifestyle and the amenities of a large metropolitan area."
Released Tuesday, the list ranks the 125 most-populated metro areas around the country on aspects such as job prospects, affordability and quality of life. Tampa scored 6.6 points out of 10 overall, including 6.6 points out of 10 for its job market, 5.7 for value, 6.9 for quality of life, 6.6 on desirability and 8.3 on attracting new residents. Its affordable housing and job market scores were significant contributors to its rise in rankings, U.S. News said.
Tampa Bay is one of 11 Florida metro areas in the lineup. Sarasota ranked the highest at No. 18, followed by Melbourne (No. 25) and Fort Myers (No. 35).
The overall best places to live, according to the ranking, are Austin (No. 1), Denver, Colorado (No. 2), and Colorado Springs, Colo. (No. 3). The Midwest claimed many of the top 25 spots, and many areas in the northwest moved up in the rankings because of the tech boom, U.S. News said.
But affordability and continued job growth make areas such as Florida continually attractive for future upward movement on the list.
“Our northeastern cities, which are epicenters of higher education and economic development, are not growing nearly as much as places in Florida, California and Texas,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor for U.S. News, in a release. “Plus, they are expensive to live in. Top-ranked places have the characteristics people are looking for, including steady job growth, affordability and a high quality of life.”
Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.
Florida metro rankings:
No. 18: Sarasota
No. 25: Melbourne
No. 35: Fort Myers
No. 37: Pensacola
No. 42: Jacksonville
No. 56: Tampa
No. 59: Lakeland
No. 63: Orlando
No. 78: Port St. Lucie
No. 99: Daytona Beach
No. 113: Miami