Phoenix reaches highest echelon on 2021 America’s Best Cities list

The Phoenix metro has been rising steadily in recent years on Resonance Consultancy’s lists of top cities, and this year it landed in the top 10.

The Valley is ranked No. 9 on Resonance’s 2021 America’s Best Cities Report, a four-point jump from its 2020 ranking of No. 13 on the 100-city list of metros with more than 500,000 residents.

It’s also higher than Phoenix’s position as the 16th highest ranking American city on the 2021 World’s Best Cities list, where Arizona’s capital came in at No. 55 globally in December.

Phoenix has a lot going for it, according to the report’s authors, who gave the metro high marks for its weather (for which it ranked No. 6) and its change in civilian labor force — a new measurement for the report that tracked migration from and to cities over the past year.

The Valley ranked No. 11 nationally for its change in civilian labor force, indicating that locals are staying put, and with them jobs, according to the report.

Chris Fair, president and CEO of Resonance, said the labor force change subcategory was a crucial one because the Covid-19 pandemic has “kick-started mobility not seen in decades, contradicting all previous behavior during a recession in which people stayed put.”

For some cities, an outflow of residents means property tax revenue losses and declines in rents. Not so for cities like Phoenix, however, where rapid growth means rising residential costs.

Ranking in 6 key metrics

The Valley ranked No. 2 nationally for change in median home prices, behind only Boise, Idaho.

Phoenix also drew recognition as a diverse place, ranking No. 13 in that subcategory, which measures sights and landmarks, the quality of nature and parks, as well as safety.

Its blend of art galleries, studios, restaurants and bars in places such as Roosevelt Row earned recognition, along with other aspects of an “urban renaissance,” such as the opening of the historic Pemberton PHX in downtown. The Valley also ranked No. 12 for its shopping.

The report’s authors also pointed to the many hotels opening this year, as well as the city’s embrace of its “understated culinary tradition and Latin roots.”

On top of all that, Resonance highlighted Phoenix’s devotion to the outdoors, ranking the metro No. 29 in the parks & outdoors subcategory.

“Take a close-up look at Camelback Mountain, where summit trails are not for the faint of heart, especially in 100° Fahrenheit heat — though the base of the mountain also offers easier and equally beautiful trails for beginners,” the report’s authors wrote.

To arrive at its rankings, Resonance — a Canadian advisory firm that focuses on real estate, tourism and economic development — ranked the 100 U.S. cities in six key categories: place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion.

Income, housing part of data

Place includes weather, safety, sights and parks or outdoor activities; product includes institutions and infrastructure such as attractions, sports teams, airports and universities; people includes diversity and education; prosperity includes number of Fortune 500 companies and median household income; programming includes culture, nightlife, restaurants and shopping; and promotion includes the city’s prominence on social media, Google searches and TripAdvisor reviews.

This year, besides the addition of the labor force change subcategory under the people heading, Resonance also added change in unemployment rates, change in median family income and change in median home prices under the prosperity heading. The new measures were meant to capture changes that have emerged with the pandemic.

“To say a reinvention is upon us is an understatement,” Fair wrote.

Here are the top 10 cities on the 2021 list:

1. New York

2. Los Angeles

3. Chicago

4. San Francisco

5. Boston

6. San Diego

7. Washington

8. Denver

9. Phoenix

10. San Jose.

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