The 17 best cities in the Western US to live in after the pandemic

Maciej Bledowski/ShutterstockSalt Lake City, Utah, is one of the best cities in the West region of the US to live in after the pandemic.
  • Business Insider recently ranked the best cities to live in after the novel coronavirus pandemic, based on different factors that one may consider when moving, such as being able to work from home.
  • We decided to look at the best cities just in the West region of the US, as defined by the Census Bureau.
  • Logan, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, made the top of the list.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you are considering moving out West after the novel coronavirus pandemic, one of these cities could be a good fit for you.

We recently compiled a list of the best cities to live in after the coronavirus pandemic using different economic measures and other factors that may influence someone’s decision about where to move. The nine factors we used are the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate, ability to work from home, population density, housing affordability, monthly housing costs, cost of living, average travel time to work, total elementary- and secondary-school spending per student, and share of residents age 25 and over who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

After collecting our data from different sources like the US Census Bureau, each measure was rescaled to a uniform z-score so that we could add these values and get an overall index for each metro area.


You can read more about our methods and sources here.

Many of the cities located in the Western parts of the US did not rank highly on our overall list. Of the top 30 best cities, only two were from states in the West region, as defined by the US Census Bureau.

In this article, we ranked the metro areas in the West region that had the best overall index.

These cities are great for people who don’t want to live in crowded areas, based on their low population densities, and who want a short weekly work commute.

It is important to emphasise that this list uses data before the coronavirus pandemic, and thus don’t capture any of the economic impacts that much of the country has felt in the last few months.

Read on to find out the 17 best cities in the West region of the US to move to after the coronavirus:


17. Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Among metro areas in the West region of the US, Santa Fe has one of the highest share of jobs that could be done from home at 39.9%. The cost of living in this metro area is only 2.2% lower than the national average.


16. Billings, Montana

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This city is great for people who don’t want to live too close to others. It has the 11th-lowest population density of all US metro areas at 28.0 people per square mile. The pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 3.2 was only slightly lower than the national rate in February.


15. Boise City, Idaho

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About 71.0% of households in Boise City spend less than 30% of their income on housing, one of the highest shares among metro areas in West region of the US. Additionally, the average housing cost is lower than most metro areas in this region at $US972 a month.


14. Salt Lake City, Utah

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Salt Lake City has the fifth-highest share of jobs that could be done from home in the West region of the US at 43.3%. This is also the 15th-highest share among all US metro areas. About 71.0% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, one of the highest shares among metro areas in the West.


13. Sierra Vista, Arizona

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Sierra Vista has the sixth-lowest population density of all US metro areas at 20.3 people per square mile. Of the metro areas in the West region of the US, Sierra Vista has the ninth-highest share of jobs that could be done from home at 41.1%. This is also one of the highest shares among all US metro areas. This metro area also has the third-lowest cost of living among metro areas in the West, 11.2% lower than the national average.


12. Boulder, Colorado

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Boulder has the second-highest share of jobs that could be done from home at 48.5%. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.2% was also lower than the national average. However, Boulder’s cost of living of 7.1% is above the national average.


11. Ogden, Utah

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Ogden’s cost of living is 5.7% lower than the national average, and the metro area’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.4% was also lower than the national unemployment rate in February.


10. Great Falls, Montana

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Great Falls has the 12th-lowest population density of metro areas in the West region of the US at 30.2 people per square mile. The metro area also has the 10th-lowest average housing cost of metro areas in this region, around $US849 a month.


9. Provo, Utah

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Provo has the 19th-highest share of jobs that could be done from home of all US metro areas at 42.6%. This is also the seventh-highest share among just metro areas in the West. Additionally, 41.4% of residents who are at least 25 years old and have a bachelor’s degree, one of the highest shares among metro areas in the West.


8. Walla Walla, Washington

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Walla Walla has the fourth-shortest average weekly work commute among metro areas in the West region of the US at two hours and 47 minutes. The metro area also has a lower average housing cost than most metros in this region of around $US943 a month.


7. Missoula, Montana

Shutterstock/Keegan Connell

Missoula’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 3.2% was slightly below the national average in February. The cost of living in this metro area is also 5.0% lower than the national average.


6. Casper, Wyoming

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Casper is a great city for people who don’t want to live close to people. It has the third-lowest population density of all US metro areas at 15.0 people per square mile. Of metro areas in just the West region of the US, it has one of the lower average housing costs at $US951 a month.


5. Corvallis, Oregon

Justin Reina/Wikimedia Commons

Corvallis has the 12th-highest share of jobs that could be done from home among metro areas in the West region at 39.9%. The metro area’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.6% was lower than the national average. However, Corvallis’ cost of living is 2.2% higher than the national average.


4. Idaho Falls, Idaho

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Idaho Falls’ pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.2% was lower than the national rate in February. The metro area also has a low average housing cost compared to other metro areas in the West region of the US at $US867 a month.


3. Pocatello, Idaho

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Pocatello’s average weekly work commute of two hours and 40 minutes is the third-shortest among metro areas in the West region. The metro area also has the second-lowest cost of living of metro areas in this region, at 12.4% lower than the national average.


2. Cheyenne, Wyoming

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Cheyenne ranked the 20th-best city to move to in our overall list. This metro area is good for people who want a short weekly commute. Its average weekly commute of two hours and 28 minutes is the shortest among all US metro areas. Cheyenne also has a low population density at 37 people per square mile.


1. Logan, Utah

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Logan ranked the 15th-best city to move to in our overall list. The metro area’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.0%, tied for the second-lowest among all US metro areas. Logan has the 18th-highest share of jobs that could be done from home among metro areas in the West region of the US at 38.4%.

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