America’s Best City: Raleigh

An excerpt from


To most residents of Raleigh, it may not come as a surprise that their city earned the title of America’s Best City. Raleigh shows the cultural graces that go along with anchoring the so-called Research Triangle, home to North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among its many attributes the city sports 867 restaurants, 110 bars, and 51 museums, according to Onboard Informatics, as well as a thriving social scene, good schools, and 12,512 park acres, equal to several times the green space per capita in cities like New York and Los Angeles, according to the Trust for Public Land. It also offers a great deal on nights and weekends—from concerts and opera, to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and college sports, to the 30,000-square-foot State Farmers Market.

Raleigh may have a population of only about 400,000 and span about 144 square miles, yet data show it still offers a lot, if only in a smaller package. True, Raleigh may not be the center of the tech universe like San Francisco, a hub of higher education on the same scale as Boston, or a vibrant 24-hour metropolis like New York, but all those cities also offered higher unemployment, a dearth of parks, worse public education, and other negative factors that weighed against them.

“We’ve always said, you can find about every amenity that you want, even in a city of our size,” says James Sauls, director of Raleigh Economic Development, a partnership between the City of Raleigh and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

The city has been home to an array of celebs including Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi, Dexter star Michael C. Hall, and singer Clay Aiken (whose dog was even named Raleigh).


With help from Bloomberg Rankings, evaluated 100 of the country’s largest cities based on 16 criteria including: the number of restaurants, bars, and museums per capita; the number of colleges, libraries, and professional sports teams; the income, poverty, unemployment, crime, and foreclosure rates; percentage of population with bachelor’s degrees or higher; public school performance; park acres per 1,000 residents; and air quality. Greater weighting was placed on recreational amenities such as parks, bars, restaurants, and museums per capita, educational attainment, school performance, poverty, and air quality. As living in great cities can be expensive, affordability was not taken into account.

The data for this ranking came from the U.S. Census BureauU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,Sperling’s BestPlacesGreatSchoolsOnboard InformaticsRealtyTracBloomberg, and theTrust for Public Land.

Read more about living in North Carolina here.

America’s Best Cities for Young Professionals

An excerpt from

In Pictures: The 15 Best Cities For Young Adults

Behind The Numbers

To determine the best cities for young professionals, which we define as adults aged from 24 to 34 who hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we started with the 100 largest U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (cities and the suburbs surrounding them) as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. We assessed these cities based on seven factors, weighting them evenly: local unemployment rates and 2010 to 2012 job growth projections provided by Moody’s Economy.comCensus Bureau data on the number of small businesses (defined as less than 500 employees) per capita, as well as the number of large businesses; the median salaries for 24- to 34-year-old employed college graduates, provided by; Moody’s cost-of living index, to gauge how far those paychecks will go; and the percentage of the population aged 25 and older with college degrees in the area.

In second place on our list: Raleigh, N.C. The college town turned boom town, which tops our Best Places for Business and Careers list this year, has the fourth best job growth outlook of the cities we studied (2% a year for 2010-12) and a 7.9% unemployment rate that’s well below the national average. With an abundance of colleges and universities in the area such as University of North Carolina and Duke University, and Research Triangle, a major center for high-tech and biotech research, more than 42% of the local population touts BA degrees, making it the most educated of the cities we looked at.


Where the Jobs Are: Wake County, NC

Wake County, NC

Towns include: ApexGarnerHolly SpringsKnightdaleRaleighWake Forest
Job growth (2000-2010): 35.9%

You can’t stop the jobs machine in Wake County. The local economic development council reports almost a thousand new positions since March. And green jobs represent one of the fastest-growing sectors. An industry report shows a 22% spike in 2010 across the state. Wake County leads the way with 128 green companies.

The hub of it all is Research Triangle Park, with more than 170 firms that employ about 48,000 workers there. Its tenant list reads like a Who’s Who of global business: IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco Systems and DuPont are just some of the bigger names.

Not only does Wake County attract business, it wants to keep it there. When Red Hat hinted it might move its headquarters out of Raleigh, the state ponied up $18 million in grants. The Linux software developer now says it will stay put and create 540 jobs over the next decade.



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