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Here are the 10 Most and Least Desirable U.S. Cities

Three cities made both lists. The most desirable roster includes six cities from the West and four from the East.
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What would be your favorite city in which to live?

Virginia Beach, Va. came out on top among the 50 most populous cities in a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Clever Real Estate’s Home Bay information service. A total of 21% of respondents listed Virginia Beach in their top five.

“Virginia Beach may not have the fame of other beach towns, such as Miami or San Diego, but with 35 miles of coastline, fascinating museums, and plenty of fresh food, it has many of the same great things to do for a fraction of the cost,” a report of the survey findings said.

Virginia Beach is the only city in the top five most desirable that has a regional price parity (96) below the national average (100), the study said.

Regional price parities measure the differences in price levels across cities and states and are expressed as a percentage of the overall national price level.

Here’s a full list of the top 10 cities:

  1. Virginia Beach, Va.
  2. Seattle
  3. San Diego
  4. Los Angeles
  5. San Francisco
  6. Phoenix
  7. Denver
  8. Miami
  9. Nashville, Tenn.
  10. Tampa, Fla.

Affordability Factor

“Although Americans say affordability is what makes a city desirable, the other four cities in the top five [outside of Virginia Beach] are some of the most expensive in the country,” the report pointed out.

“Most notably, in San Francisco, the cost of goods exceeds the national average by 17%, while the typical home value has hit $1.6 million — 2.5 times higher than the studied city average ($449,718).”

Regardless of how much people like the most expensive cities, rising costs are forcing many Americans to flee them, the study said.

“Of the top five most-desirable cities, only Seattle has experienced population growth in the past five years. Although these cities may be desirable for their attractions and amenities, money tends to have a greater influence over Americans' actions.”

From Best to Worst

As for the least desirable cities to live, Los Angeles topped the chart, even though it was also No. 4 on the most desirable city list.

A total of 27% of Americans consider Los Angeles the worst place to live, while 19% think it’s one of the top five best places to live.

“Those who aren't blinded by the glare of the Hollywood lights suffocate under a smog of overpriced despair,” the report said.

The cost of living is almost 12% higher in L.A. than the national mean, and average home values (almost $1 million) total more than twice the average of all cities studied ($449,718).

“Although Beverly Hills is often considered the best neighborhood in Los Angeles, its celebrity-occupied properties and glamorous amenities are completely out of reach for average residents,” the study said.

“With an unemployment rate of 4.6% — 25% higher than the national average of 3.7% — residents are left California dreamin' about how to afford the L.A. lifestyle.”

So it’s no great surprise that more than 638,000 residents have exited Los Angeles in the past five years. That's more than any other city in the U.S., except New York.

Here’s a full list of the bottom 10 cities:

1. Los Angeles

2. Birmingham, Ala.

3. San Francisco

4. Detroit

5. New York

6. Chicago

7. Seattle

8. & 9 (tie): Dallas and Milwaukee

10. Washington, D.C.