It’s easy to fall in love with a city. Whether you love it for its arts, food, culture, industry, education, or simply being a comfortable place to live, there are plenty of beloved cities and communities throughout the United States.

But which ones are the best — and the worst? We researched the rate of home ownership, percent of long term residents, and more to determine which cities America loves the most, and which ones are loved the least.

The Five Most Beloved Cities in America

  1. Peoria, Illinois
  2. Lancaster, California
  3. Santa Clarita, California
  4. Corona, California
  5. Hollywood, Florida

The Five Least Beloved Cities in America

  1. Richmond, Virginia
  2. Norfolk, Virginia
  3. Killeen, Texas
  4. Springfield, Missouri
  5. Syracuse, New York

About Our Methodology

We studied factors including population, home ownership rate, long term residents, nonmovers, total visitors, even the number of Billboard songs written about the city. This information tells us whether or not residents truly love the city. The most important of these: home ownership rate and the percentage of long term residents.

Home Ownership Rate

Home ownership rate is a telling statistic for any city. It illustrates a willingness to put down roots in the area. It’s also a good indicator of a healthy economic environment.

Long Term Residents

We also looked at long term residents as a major factor. Home owners or not, long term residents have clearly found something to love about the city where they live, at least enough to stick around for a while.

A note on our findings: Interestingly, America’s most beloved cities have a population between 100,000 and 200,000, and most are right around 160,000. It seems this population is a sweet spot for finding satisfaction in a city. It’s also important to note that California cities make up three of the top five most beloved cities in America. Life is good in the Golden State!

America’s Most Beloved City #1: Peoria, IL

peoria il most beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/wizard298/)

Population: 166,934

Home ownership rate: 71.20%

Long term residents: 85.20%

The largest city on the Illinois River, Peoria is a classic Midwestern city. It is known as The River City, or, if you prefer, “Whiskeytown.” Culture is alive and well in Peoria, where a number of museums including the Lakeview Museum for the Arts and Sciences and the Wheels o’ Time Museum. Industry is doing well in Peoria as well, with well known businesses in Peoria including Caterpillar, a heavy equipment and engine manufacturer with a headquarters in the city. Caterpillar is also the top employer in the city.

America’s Most Beloved City #2: Lancaster, CA

lancaster ca most beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/gorefiendus/)

Population: 161,043

Home ownership rate: 60.10%

Long term residents: 87%

Located north of Los Angeles, Lancaster is one of the principal cities in California’s High Desert. This city has sunny weather, lots of local amenities, and a stable housing market that make it a comfortable place to live. There are also more than 600 acres of developed or plan parkland, including the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve. Lancaster is home to the Willow Springs International Motorsports Park as well as War Eagle Field.

America’s Most Beloved City #3: Santa Clarita, CA

santa clarita ca most beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/)

Population: 181,557

Home ownership rate: 69.70%

Long term residents: 83.50%

Occupying most of the Santa Clarita Valley in California, Santa Clarita is, like Lancaster, just north of Los Angeles. It offers a small town feel with all of the convenience of a big city. Master planned communities, low crime rates, and good schools make this a special place to live. Santa Clarita is also known for its excellent amenities, resources, and education, including Six Flags Magic Mountain and the California Institute of the Arts.

America’s Most Beloved City #4: Corona, CA

corona ca most beloved cities (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilarmstrong2/)

Population: 161,486

Home ownership rate: 67.30%

Long term residents: 87.70%

Corona is located in Southern California and was once known as the lemon capital of the world. The city boasts an abundance of natural beauty with Cleveland National Forest and the Santa Ana Mountains nearby. Close to Orange County with a small town feel and more affordable housing, Corona has developed into a bedroom community for large cities in Southern California. An interesting fact: Corona has buried—and lost—17 time capsules, making it the record holder in the fumbled time capsule category.

America’s Most Beloved City #5: Hollywood, FL

hollywood fl most beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/beleaveme/)

Population: 148,047

Home ownership rate: 61.10%

Long term residents: 83.50%

Hollywood is a growing, vibrant city that’s one of Broward County, Florida’s top destinations both for living and visiting. With a sunny climate and a funky vibe, Hollywood is a great place for those seeking a beachside city with livability. Hollywood has excellent food, nature, art, music, and more. Its beach is among the best in Florida, and the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk is always fun for a night out.

America’s Least Beloved City #5: Syracuse, NY

syracuse ny least beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/uxud/)

Population: 144,263

Home ownership rate: 39.40%

Long term residents: 73.40%

It’s hard to love this upstate New York city. Syracuse has one of the highest crime rates in America for its size, particularly violent crimes including rape, murder, and non-negligent manslaughter. It’s also an extremely snowy city, receiving the most annual average snow of any metropolitan area in the United States. And if that’s not enough, Syracuse is known for its legendary potholes that pop up every spring season after the winter freeze.

America’s Least Beloved City #4: Springfield, MO

springfield mo least beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanoprobe67/)

Population: 165,378

Home ownership rate: 47.40%

Long term residents: 73.40%

Another city with a crime problem, Springfield is known as one of the most dangerous mid sized cities in America. Springfield residents are often the victims of robberies with a 1 in 11 chance of being robbed each year. Other problems in Springfield include very low household incomes, cheap housing (and not in the good sense), as well as extremely underfunded schools.

America’s Least Beloved City #3: Killeen, TX

killeen tx least beloved city (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tnkntx/)

Population: 138,154

Home ownership rate: 49.00%

Long term residents: 71.90%

Fort Hood Army Base is located in Killeen, but even with a strong military presence, this Texas city is still riddled with crime. Statistically, it is the fifth most dangerous city in Texas with the highest burglary rate in the state. Killeen is also reported to have a problem with sexually transmitted diseases, with a ranking in the top ten cases per capita in the United States.

America’s Least Beloved City #2: Norfolk, VA

norfolk va least beloved cities (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/75403782@N02/)

Population: 245,428

Home ownership rate: 44.50%

Long term residents: 77.10%

Norfolk, Virginia also has a high rate of crime with a 1 in 19 chance for residents to become a victim of a crime, most often property crimes. It is also among the most difficult cities to navigate.

America’s Least Beloved City #1: Richmond, VA

richmond va least beloved cities (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/fireatwillrva/)

Population: 217,853

Home ownership rate: 43.10%

Long term residents: 76.60%

Even worse than Norfolk, Virginia’s capital city of Richmond has more than its fair share of crime. In fact, in 2012, it had the highest number of murders per person than anywhere else in Virginia, as well as the highest number of violent crimes per person. It’s also a rough city for allergy sufferers—or those that don’t know they have allergies yet—with a rank as the worst city for allergies in the United States.

Home is what you make of it, but there’s no denying that some cities are just more comfortable than others. Safe streets, good schools, and well maintained homes are a big part of what makes cities great—or not so great. How does your city fare?

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