Methodology Americas | World’s Best Cities


Our methodology is a combination of core statistics from more than 400 global cities and resident and visitor perception indicators like user-generated ratings and reviews.

Resonance interprets this data through the lens of three key factors—Livability, Lovability and Prosperity—to define each city’s Place Power Score.

Our Methodology

America’s Best Cities Methodology

How we ranked America’s Best Cities in 2024

In order to rank the performance and perception of America’s best cities in 2024, Resonance analyzed the principal cities of metropolitan statistical areas with populations of more than 500,000 (according to the U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021) to determine the Top 100 cities by using 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. This blend of data led to the creation of Resonance’s proprietary Place PowerTM Score, the foundation of all our Best Cities rankings.

So how does Resonance choose the metrics to effectively measure an urban region’s performance relative to its competitors?

While many factors shape our perception of urban regions as desirable places to live, work or visit, Resonance’s proprietary Place PowerTM Score rankings are focused on the shared factors that demonstrate moderate to strong correlations with the performance of urban regions when it comes to attracting prime age population (age 25 – 44), visitor expenditure and/or business formation.

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. These factors can change and evolve over time, and so we have continually updated our methodology to reflect these shifts. Case in point: we have added factors like Average Rent and Cost of Living to this year’s index and removed inputs like Weather and Safety to more accurately represent the latest verified drivers of talent, investment and tourism to a city.

This year, we’ve regrouped our previous six categories (Place, Promotion, Product, Programming, People and Prosperity) into three larger pillars that we utilize in our work with clients—Livability, Lovability and Prosperity—to define each city’s relative Place PowerTM Score. As part of our new partnership with Ipsos (see page 2 of the 2024 America’s Best Cities report) we combined the performance data of the subcategories that comprise our overall Livability, Lovability and Prosperity indices with perception data reflecting the opinions of 2,000 U.S. adults on three distinct questions:

  1. Thinking about places across the United States, including small towns and large cities, what are the Top 3 towns or cities you would most like to live in some day? (Livability)
  2. Thinking about places across the United States, including small towns and large cities, what are the Top 3 towns or cities you would most like to visit in the next 12 – 24 months? (Lovability)
  3. Thinking about places across the United States, including small towns and large cities, what 3 towns or cities do you believe currently offer the best job opportunities? (Prosperity)

By utilizing an open-ended question methodology, we ensure that we are comprehensive in capturing the destinations that are top-of-mind to survey participants and that respondents are not limited to a predetermined list of cities that we present. The responses to these questions were aggregated and coded to benchmark the perception equivalent of our performance results, creating a true balance across our three overall indices of Lovability, Livability and Prosperity.


This category quantifies a city’s quality of place. To score a city within our Livability category, we evaluate the perceived quality of its natural and built environments. This includes how much of an urban area is dedicated to green space, how bike-friendly its streets are and how many quality parks, sights, neighborhoods and landmarks are recommended online by locals and visitors. We also look at key socioeconomic factors such as the affordability of monthly rents and the cost of living—factors that not only retain talent, but also attract it (and, by extension, attract skill-seeking companies as well).

Livability also looks at natural attributes of a region like outdoors and parks and lifestyle factors such as the ease of internet access. Additionally, it considers the cost of living in a place—from average rent to the cost of living burden on residents. As the cost of urban living climbs, the cost of life in a region increasingly matters as much as the potential of earning a living there and our metrics reflect this.

Livability Metrics

Walk Score
The average walkability of addresses in a region (

The measure of whether a location is good for biking based on four equally weighted components: bike lanes, hills, destinations and road connectivity, and bike commuting mode share (Bike Score)

Sights & Landmarks
Number of sights and landmarks as listed on Tripadvisor (

Number of outdoor experiences as listed on Tripadvisor (

Cost of Living
The relative amount needed to live in a given region, including the price of food, taxes, housing, etc. (Lightcast)

Average Rent
The average market rate for rent in a region (Zillow)

Internet Access
he share of households with access to broadband internet in a region (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2022 5-Year)

Ranking in survey of top cities and towns Americans would most like to live in some day (Ipsos)


Lovability speaks to the relative vibrancy of a region as compared to its competitive set. For almost a decade, Resonance research has shown that the more vibrant a city or region is in terms of its culture, sports, dining and nightlife, the more visitors, young professionals and large corporations it attracts.

A region's lovability also inspires residents, businesses and visitors to promote that region to the world more effectively and cost-efficiently than destination marketers can ever hope to.

Resonance ranks a region's performance in each of these areas based on the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online about that region in key user-generated digital channels like Tripadvisor, Instagram and Facebook, and how often it is sought out on Google.

Lovability Metrics

Professional Sports Teams
The number of professional sports teams in a city (multiple sources)

Number of local nightlife experiences as listed on Tripadvisor, including bars, pubs and clubs (

Number of restaurants and culinary experiences as listed on Tripadvisor (

Number of local shopping experiences listed on Tripadvisor, including shopping malls, farmers’ markets, department stores, airport shops and factory outlets (

Number of local concerts, shows and events listed on Tripadvisor (

Number of family-friendly activities listed on Tripadvisor (

Facebook Check-ins
Total number of Facebook check-ins posted by residents and visitors in a city (

Tripadvisor Reviews
Total number of reviews a city has on Tripadvisor (

Instagram Hashtags
Total number of posts with Instagram hashtags that include the name of a city (

Google Trends
Popularity on Google Trends in the past 12 months, relative to the other cities analyzed, choosing the larger total of the city (for example, “Miami”) or the city and state (“Miami, Florida”) (

Number of museums listed on Tripadvisor (

Ranking in survey of top cities and towns Americans would most like to visit in the next 12-24 months (Ipsos)


Human capital is becoming a region’s most valuable resource when it comes to generating wealth and prosperity, and, for many regions, it is increasingly in short supply. To evaluate the relative strength of human capital from one region to the next,

Resonance not only measures both the educational attainment level of the region’s population and the percentage of people participating in the labor force but also the patents created and establishments in professional, scientific, and technical services locally to measure the degree to which the innovation ecosystem is distributed across each city.

Wealth and prosperity are also evaluated by core statistics like business infrastructure, such as the region’s airport’s connectivity to other destinations, and the number of regional universities and technical colleges and their rankings that fill the local talent pipeline.

Prosperity Metrics

Educational Attainment
Percentage of the population with higher education, BA or Higher (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2022 5-Year)

Labor Force Participation
A region’s active workforce defined as a percentage of all people of working age who are employed or are actively seeking work (Lightcast)

Fortune 500
Number of companies headquartered in a city that are ranked on the Fortune 500 list (

The score of the highest ranking university in a city as measured by US News Best National Universities Rankings (US News Best National Universities Rankings)

Airport Connectivity
Number of direct destinations served by all commercial airports in a metro region (

Convention Center
Size of the largest convention center in a city ( and convention center websites)

Foreign-Born Residents
The level of diversity in a region as calculated by the share of the population who are not citizens (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2022 5-Year)

Professional Services
The number of businesses that are classified as professional, scientific and technical services (Lightcast)

The number of patents granted in a region by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” (PatentsView)

Job Postings
The number of unique job postings on job boards in a specific region annually (Lightcast)

Ranking in survey of top cities and towns Americans believe offer the best job opportunities (Ipsos)