Resonance Releases America’s Best Cities Report



New York City is No. 1, helped in part by 2023 visitor growth of nearly 10% over 2022, generating $74 billion in economic impact.

Photo by Julienne Schaer courtesy of NYC Tourism + Conventions

New York City-based tourism, real estate and economic development advisor Resonance this week released its eighth annual America’s Best Cities rankings, which seek to “quantify and benchmark the relative quality of place, reputation and competitive identity of U.S. urban centers.”

The consultancy’s ranking of the principal cities in the country’s 100 largest metro areas with population of 500,000 or more is based on public perception combined with factors demonstrating correlations with attracting prime age population (age 25 – 44), visitor expenditure and/or business formation. The full 62-page report includes profiles of all 100 cities and charts documenting how each scored in the report’s three categories of livability, lovability and prosperity, which replace its six previous categories of Place, Promotion, Product, Programming, People and Prosperity.

For the first time, the report incorporated responses from 2,000 Americans to a survey from market research firm Ipsos asking which three U.S. towns or cities they’d most like to live in some day or visit in the next two years, and which three they believe currently offer the best job opportunities.

“The phrase ‘perception is reality’ is often used when developing reputation management strategies for companies, but the same holds true for destinations,” said Jason McGrath, executive vice president at Ipsos, in a Resonance press release. “By merging the top-of-mind destinations where people tell us they want to live, work and visit with the rigorous evaluation of place that Resonance has been conducting for nearly a decade, we have created a more comprehensive evaluation of cities and can better advise destinations on how to strengthen their reputation.”

“For many, the pandemic changed what we consider to be desirable in a place to live, work or play, and we are seeing growing alignment in the way citizens, corporations and travelers choose cities as a place to live, visit or invest,” wrote Chris Fair, president and CEO of Resonance Consultancy, in the report’s introduction. “The rise of remote work led to significant migration from so-called ‘Superstar Cities’ like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to cities on the rise like Dallas, Houston, Austin, Phoenix and Atlanta.”

Nevertheless, the superstars continue to reign supreme. Here are America's Top 10 Best Cities for 2024, according to Resonance:

1. New York, New York
2. Chicago, Illinois
3. Los Angeles, California
4. Miami, Florida
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
6. San Francisco, California
7. Boston, Massachusetts
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Seattle, Washington
10. Houston, Texas

Coincidentally, Atlanta (No. 13 on the Resonance list) and Pittsburgh (No. 31) were noted in this week’s Global Liveability Index 2024 (British spelling retained) from the Economist Intelligence Unit as among the world’s biggest upward movers in livability, moving to Nos. 29 and 30 in the entire world, respectively, on the EIU global scorecard. Resonance found Pittsburgh to be No. 31 in livability among the 100 U.S. cities it analyzed.

The top 100 cities were determined by using what Resonance calls “a combination of core statistics and user-generated data from online sources such as Google, Tripadvisor and Instagram to measure quality of place when it comes to experiential factors,” resulting in a proprietary Place Power™ Score. “Based on our ongoing analysis, these factors are an eclectic mix that ranges from the number of Fortune 500 companies and ease of airport connectivity to the number of nightlife and outdoor recreation experiences and the volume of check-ins on Facebook and mentions on Instagram,” Resonance explains.



Meanwhile, new elements introduced to the methodology include average rent and safety. Altogether, the report encompasses eight livability metrics (including walk score, sights and landmarks, and internet access); 12 lovability metrics (including seven Tripadvisor statistics); and 11 prosperity metrics (including university rankings, patents and size of convention center).

The profiles of the 100 cities showcase tourism highlights alongside economic development and corporate growth highlights familiar to Site Selection readers. After all, many company site selection processes begin as or are influenced by the travel experiences of executives.

Chris Fair, for one, sees something more fair about the redistribution of people and corporate investments since the pandemic.

“The massive investments in manufacturing and reindustrialization now underway should help fuel the economies of many of the new fast-rising cities and leave the country with a better distributed, just and resilient economy a decade from now,” he writes. “But that future is not a given. Rising cities will need to develop new policies and make significant investments in infrastructure, amenities, housing and mobility if they want to realize that future.”

Noted by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson in the Resonance profile of No. 2 Chicago was Chicagoland’s No. 1 finish in Site Selection’s Top Metros ranking for 11 straight years, driven by, among other factors, “access to diverse talent, global connectivity and the city’s strong infrastructure.”

Photo of Lollapalooza 2023 courtesy of City of Chicago

Points of Comparison

How do the rankings from Resonance compare to Site Selection’s annual Top Metros rankings, based purely on corporate facility project investment activity? Only five of the Resonance top 10 make Site Selection’s top 10, with their No. 2 Chicago part of our No. 1 ranking of Chicagoland, just ahead of a Dallas-Fort Worth region that did not make the Resonance top 10. Others making both top 10s include Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

However, a number of regions in Site Selection’s top 10 did managed to make it into Resonance’s top 20: Atlanta at No. 13, Austin at No. 15 and Dallas at No. 16. Site Selection’s No. 7 Phoenix comes in at No. 21 on the Resonance scorecard, while No. 9 Top Metro Indianapolis is ranked No. 43. Resonance points out some of the reasons why the Indiana region, while perhaps not top-tier in perception, scores plenty of points when it comes to corporate site seekers:

“Come for the red-hot economic growth, stay for affordable neighborhoods with single-family homes under $300,000,” the report says, noting that “even the bougie houses near Northside” can be snagged for under $450,000. “True to its reputation as the capital of speed, Indianapolis is home to workers who fuel a diverse economy anchored by Fortune 500s that rank No. 33 nationally, a No. 20 spot in our Patents subcategory and some of the shortest commutes of any metro area.”

The Resonance study examines 100 cities of 500,000 or more people, but all the top-ranked cities in the Resonance rankings have more than 1 million people until No. 28 Charleston, South Carolina, which this year made Site Selection’s Tier-2 Top Metros at No. 6 after ranking No. 7 the year before. The next-highest-ranking Tier-2 city in the Resonance rankings is No. 46 Omaha, which has ranked No. 3 in Site Selection’s tally for two consecutive years. As Resonance notes, “The discreet economic powerhouse of the Midwest lives large while keeping it small.” It also is No. 28 in the nation for Fortune 500 HQs with seven, the most of any city with under 1 million people.

Location analysts can also compare the Resonance “America’s Best Cities” results to Site Selection’s inaugural “America’s Best Counties” rankings published in July 2023, where six of our top 10 counties (and several more within the top 20) are connected to cities in the Resonance top 10.

Watch for the 2024 edition of Site Selection’s “America’s Best Counties” to make its debut next week on Monday, July 1. — Adam Bruns

In addition to the allure of Hollywood, No. 3 Los Angeles knows how to host big events: The region will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and NBA All-Star Game, the 2027 Super Bowl and the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board