Arlington Drops to No. 2 on ‘Best Cities to Live’ List

After five years at the top of an annual “Best Cities to Live in America” list, Arlington is now No. 2.

The list, compiled by, bases its rankings “on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities,” from various data sources like the U.S. Census and the FBI.

Arlington, as before, got high marks for public schools, nightlife, diversity, outdoor activities, health and fitness, and family amenities. But housing and the cost of living in Arlington received C+ and C grades, respectively, dragging down the county’s average.

Ranking No. 1 on the 2021 list is The Woodlands, Texas, a master-planned community near Houston. Though it ranks below Arlington in some categories, including commute, The Woodlands’ housing grade — based on “home values, property taxes, housing costs” and other factors — is an A- compared to our C+.

The Woodlands “offers residents a dense suburban feel and most residents own their homes,” Niche writes. “In The Woodlands there are a lot of restaurants and parks. Many families live in The Woodlands and residents tend to lean conservative. The public schools in The Woodlands are highly rated.”

The median home value in the Texas community is $374,200, compared to $705,400 in Arlington. Median monthly rent is $1,566 in The Woodlands, compared to $1,970 in Arlington, according to Niche.

After The Woodlands and Arlington, the top five on the Niche “Best Cities to Live” list is rounded out by Naperville, Illinois; Overland Park, Kansas; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. The next-highest city in our region is Columbia, Maryland, at No. 8.