The 25 Most Neighborly Cities in the U.S., New Study Says
Which cities' residents will always greet you with a smile or lend you some sugar?
Some cities are known for having intense reputations. For example, in New York City, it's said that people get mad at you for walking too slow, while in Philadelphia, folks are thought to get a bit rowdy over sporting events. But plenty of cities are known for being quite neighborly, where people not only interact with others who live near them but are greatly involved in the community. To bring these findings to light, the team at Neighbor researched city dwellers' habits to create their 2023 ranking of the most neighborly cities in the U.S.
The study "surveyed 1,000 Americans to uncover their neighborly habits, relationships with their neighbors, and what they think makes a community most neighborly." Things like planting roots, embracing community events, helping during natural disasters, and political behavior were all discussed in the survey. Neighbor added in "population changes and voter turnouts to account for citizen engagement and investment in their communities," as new factors for 2023's results.
"In these challenging times when Americans report increasing loneliness and division, recognizing America's 'Most Neighborly Cities' is not just a celebratory act, but a call for unity and hope," says Joseph Woodbury, founder and CEO of Neighbor. Keep reading to find out which cities made the list this year.
Closing out 2023's Most Neighborly Cities list is Cincinnati, Ohio. According to Neighbor, "This midwest city is home to several Fortune 500 companies and caters to young professionals who work in healthcare, finance, manufacturing and retail." The city also ranked high in affordability, making it an ideal location for starting or raising a family.
Knoxville is well known for its die-hard University of Tennessee sports fans, exciting downtown areas, and great local food. "For those considering moving to Knoxville, it boasts a growing job market, affordable cost of living and a friendly, welcoming feel across the city," according to Neighbor, who adds that most residents live in the family-friendly suburbs.
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven made its debut on the Most Neighborly Cities ranking in 2022 and has dropped six spots from 17 to 23 this year. It's home to the prestigious Yale University and offers the city lifestyle without the chaos of Boston or New York.
"Of all the cities in Connecticut, New Haven has the most Zagat-rated restaurants with 56 in the area," notes Neighbor. You'll have a great meal, accompanied by friendly service, whether you're visiting or living there permanently.
It's not shocking that the nation's capital scored high in voter turnout and volunteering, which places them at number 22. Neighbor notes the most surprising thing about Washington D.C. is how pet-friendly it is, which allows people to easily make connections. In addition, locals in Washington D.C. are much more likely to help tourists with directions or food recommendations than those who live in other big cities.
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. The area is filled with local politicians and has strong participation in volunteering and charitable giving.
"This city offers a lot for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy from hiking and camping in the many parks and forests near Harrisburg, including the Susquehanna River trails and several state forests," according to Neighbor.
Phoenix takes spot number 20 in the Most Neighborly Cities list mainly due to its high voter turnout. "As Arizona's capital city, 77.39 percent of residents turned out to vote in the last mayoral election," according to Neighbor.
They also have 320 days of sunshine a year, so who wouldn't want to live there? With warm weather and exciting job opportunities, the city is full of college graduates, and it's a great place to settle down with a family or start your retirement era.
Boise, Idaho is another city that's debuting on the list in 2023. In addition to offering residents countless outdoor activities, "Boise also ranked high in population change, as more people recognize the city's affordability, healthy environment and friendly community," according to Neighbor.
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines appears on the list for the third year in a row. "It has been recognized as one of the best mid-sized cities in the country for its high quality of life, which is reflected in its communities," according to Neighbor.
It's also home to the Iowa State Fair and local events like minor league baseball games and the Downtown Farmer's Market. The community gathers together often, so it's not surprising to see them on the list.
Buffalo, New York
If you thought the Northeast was unfriendly, this city will certainly prove you wrong. Buffalo is best known for its winter weather, local food and craft beer scene, and historic architecture, as well as its infectious neighborly vibe.
"From our survey, we found that 94 percent of Americans are willing to help out a neighbor during a natural disaster, and Buffalo's tight-knit community is a key piece of that 94 percent," according to Neighbor.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
It's the first year that Winston-Salem made the list. It's a small city, but it makes up for its size with the big, welcoming attitudes of its residents.
"As the second North Carolina city to make this list, Winston-Salem is nearly half the size of Raleigh but packed with just as much charm and hospitality," according to Neighbor.
"Pittsburgh ranks high in charitable giving and volunteering and continues to live up to its neighborly reputation," according to Neighbor, therefore placing the "Steel City" in the 15th spot.
Neighbor notes that "Pittsburgh lands at the top of Business Insider's list for U.S. cities where young people are buying the most homes," so the affordability rates are top tier.
Portland is a city that's both artsy and neighborly, with the study noting that they have "dedicated and welcoming communities."
"Portland prides itself on being a city of counter-culture where art, theater and music foster a unique sense of community, rooted in individuality and creativity," Neighbor adds.
Toledo had a larger jump and moved up to number 13 this year after being 21 on last year's list. "It continues to be recognized for its neighborly attitude because of its high rankings in charitable giving," according to Neighbor.
People in Toledo go out of their way for their neighbors, have an unwavering commitment to their community, and aren't scared of initiating conversations with strangers.
Seattle has been included in the ranking every year since the list began in 2020. In 2023, they've secured number 12, moving up three spots since last year.
"Seattle has rightfully earned its place on this list for its high scores in charitable giving and volunteering—clear indications that its residents are invested in bettering their community," according to Neighbor.
In addition to being America's coffee capital, this city is also home to tech giants including Amazon and Microsoft. And don't forget about iconic landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. With plenty to do and see, the feel of community is high in Seattle.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is the first of two cities in Virginia to make the ranking. Coming in at number 11, it's the first time the city is on the Neighborly list, thanks to its high voter turnout.
But as the name suggests, it's also well known for its beaches. "According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Virginia Beach is the [largest] pleasure beach in the world," notes Neighbor.
Rounding out the top 10 is Richmond. The Virginia city is new to the list this year, but given that it's the political capital of the state as well as an arts and culture hotspot, it's not shocking to see it rank highly.
"Because the housing market is prompting homeowners to relocate to more affordable communities, Richmond has seen an influx of over 30,000 new residents between 2020 and mid-2022, which gives the area a high score in population change of the last year," according to Neighbor.
In addition, residents care about the community, as they have one of the highest voter rates in the state.
Raleigh, North Carolina
"For the third year in a row, Raleigh is recognized as more than just the 'City of Oaks,'" according to Neighbor, who notes that they have a strong economy, small-town hospitality, many job opportunities, and, this year, positive population changes. And with so much nature to explore, Raleigh makes for the perfect place to plant roots.
Ogden, the oldest town in the state, is the first of three cities in Utah to make the top 10, moving up six spots from last year. According to Neighbor, "50% of its residents reported that they volunteer in the community."
The city also has an artsy vibe as well as a downtown area that boasts great outdoor entertainment and recreational activities.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City has broken into the top 10 for the first time. "Moving up from #16 to #7, Salt Lake City earns these high remarks for its safe neighborhoods, voter turnouts and volunteering," according to Neighbor.
Lots of tech workers from both coasts are attracted to the city, which Neighbor deems as "the next Silicon Valley."
Provo, Utah has consistently been in the top 10, securing the number six spot this year. They're another place that ranks highly in volunteering but also population change.
According to Neighbor, "This is no surprise especially because some of the largest companies in the state (and even in the country) are headquartered in Provo, including Qualtrics, Nu Skin, and Vivint."
Rochester, New York
Rochester, one of two cities located in Upstate New York that made the ranking, takes spot number five. They've managed to maintain their top-five status for the second year in a row, and according to Neighbor, "They continue to score high in charitable giving and volunteering."
This is the first year Sarasota, Florida joins the ranking. The city offers scenic, seaside communities and sits at a comfortable temperature of 72 degrees for most of the year.
"With year-round beach life calling many to The Sunshine State, Sarasota topped the list with the highest population change of all the top 25 cities—adding 3.4% new faces to the community between 2021 and 2022," according to Neighbor.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
"Up from #12 on last year's Most Neighborly Cities list, Colorado Springs is taking the top ranking as the city with the highest volunteer rates with 69% of city residents supporting a local organization," according to Neighbor.
The city, located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, allows locals and visitors alike to experience beautiful nature across all four seasons. It's a highly populated place, and more and more tourists are becoming permanent residents.
Minneapolis had a big jump this year, moving up more than 10 spots from number 13 last year. "They score high in volunteering and charitable giving," according to Neighbor.
As home to the Mall of America, living here seems to be a pretty big sell. Plus, Minneapolis has a great mix of nature and high-end entertainment and dining. You can't go wrong with midwestern hospitality, either.
Madison, Wisconsin takes first place, moving up one spot from 2022's ranking. Known for its great outdoor recreation and delicious food, it's easy to see why Madison is ranked highly. They're also home to the largest producer-only farmers' market, meaning nothing sold there is commercially made.
According to the report from Neighbor, "Madison also has a very politically active community, as it scored high in voter turnout with 59.67% of residents participating in the last mayoral race." While politics don't necessarily impact neighbor relationships, it does show that people living there care about their community.
Neighbor also points out that recent college graduates are choosing to move to Madison over bigger hubs like New York City or San Francisco.
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