May 16, 2023 - Business

The Triangle continues to rank among the best places to live and work

The downtown Raleigh skyline from Dix Park. Photo: Visit Raleigh

The Triangle has climbed to the top of two influential lists for the best cities to live and work, as its hot economy continues to reach new heights.

Driving the news: The Triangle came in at No. 3 on U.S. News' annual and much-watched best places to live list, up from No. 6 last year.

  • And the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank, placed Raleigh at No. 3 on its best-performing cities list — up from No. 16 a year prior.
  • Both lists were published Tuesday morning.

The jump in both cases was driven by a strong local economy that produces high-paying jobs and a heavy influx of new migrants.

  • Another study published this week by the New York Times, for example, found that the Triangle was among the areas that attracted the most college-educated workers during the pandemic.
  • Milken noted that the Triangle has had some of the best short-term job growth in the country over the past year — rising 51 spots for that specific metric.

What they're saying: "Companies definitely look at these lists and rankings when determining locations for growth," Kyle Touchstone, the director of Raleigh Economic Development, told Axios.

  • "We do make sure that site selection consultants assisting companies with location decisions are aware of the rankings," he added.

What we're watching: Perhaps for the first time, one metric that has long made the Triangle standout is beginning to fade — housing affordability.

  • Milken notes that Raleigh is quickly catching up to other large cities when it comes to housing costs, dropping 24 spots for housing affordability in the past two years.
  • While it remains affordable compared to many of the country's largest metro areas, that narrative is beginning to change.

Zoom out: Another North Carolina town that performed well in the Milken list was Wilmington, which climbed up to No. 7.

  • The Port City's economy, the report notes, has made an impressive switch from being reliant on tourism to a more diverse mix thanks to companies like Live Oak Bank and nCino.
  • But the rapid growth the area has experienced is straining the city's housing supply.

Our thought bubble: These rankings may seem trivial — but they can have a huge influence.

  • Countless individuals we have talked to over the years cite lists, like U.S. News', as a reason they decided to relocate to the Triangle.
  • And CEOs of companies often speak of the area being considered one of the best places to live when opening a new office here.

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