RALEIGH, NC (Abbie Bennett/The News & Observer) - North Carolina's two largest cities are among the best cities in America to live.
In an analysis of nearly 600 U.S. cities with populations of more than 65,000, finance website 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data in nine major categories: crime, demography, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure.
Raleigh was ranked No. 10 in America. Charlotte was No. 26.
Raleigh was listed with a population of 458,862, a median home value of $242,500, a poverty rate of 12.1 percent (putting the city in the bottom 25 percent), and the percentage of people with at least a bachelor's degree at 50.8 percent (putting Raleigh in the top 10 percent of cities).
"Raleigh is one of many fast-growing mid-size cities in North Carolina," the website stated. "Over the past 10 years, the population of Raleigh increased by 29.6 percent, the most of any city in the state other than neighboring Cary, and far more than the 7.1 percent national population growth rate.
"Raleigh is located in the southeastern corner of the Research Triangle, a prospering area with three leading research universities and many high-tech companies. Raleigh itself is home to North Carolina State University and is a 30-minute drive from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"North Carolina has one of the largest brain gains – more college graduates are staying in the state than leaving – in the country. This has contributed to high educational attainment in cities across the state. In Raleigh, 50.8 percent of adults have at least a bachelor's degree, far more than the 31.3 percent national share."
Charlotte was listed with a population of 842,029, a median home value of 201,500, a poverty rate of 13.4 percent and a bachelor's degree rate of 44.1 percent.
"Charlotte is one of two cities in North Carolina with populations expanding at a near nation-leading pace and (is) among the 50 best places to live," according to the website. "Charlotte's population increased by 24.7 percent over the past 10 years, more than three times the U.S. growth rate and the most of any city in North Carolina other than Raleigh or Cary."
"Charlotte's rapid growth is largely supported by a prosperous economy. North Carolina was one of the first states to allow banks to operate multiple branches within a single state, a regulation that led to banks rapidly expanding throughout Charlotte and the surrounding region. Today, Charlotte is home to the headquarters of Bank of America and the East Coast operations of Wells Fargo. Financial services is one of many sectors leading employment growth in the city, which was more than double the U.S. employment growth rate from 2014 to 2016. Charlotte is also home to numerous entertainment amenities, including an NFL team, an NBA team and the Carowinds amusement park."
The top 10 cities, in order, are: Carmel, Ind.; Centennial, Colo.; Arvada, Colo.; Johns Creek, Ga.; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Dale City, Va.; Naperville, Ill.; O'Fallon, Mo.; Columbia, Md.; and Raleigh.
The website used census data, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, Bureau of Labor statistics, school test score data, Department of Education statistics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data and more to determine the rankings.