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The Best Places to Live in the U.S. if You’re Concerned About Climate Change


Which places are most resilient to climate change? There may be no place a person can go to avoid the…

Which places are most resilient to climate change?

There may be no place a person can go to avoid the effects of a changing global climate, but some places are better located and prepared for record-breaking temperatures, rising sea levels and worsening natural disasters than others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Climate Resilience Screening Index to measure a place’s ability to withstand and recover from meteorological events and natural disasters, and the most recent report was published in August 2020. The EPA calculated CRSI scores for every county in the U.S. by rating each community for resilience based on five categories: risk, governance, society, built environment and natural environment. To determine which of the 150 metro areas on the U.S. News Best Places to Live ranking are the most resilient based on the EPA data (excluding San Juan, Puerto Rico), we averaged the scores of all counties that make up the given metro areas. Read on to discover which places to consider living in if you’re worried about climate change.

20. Richmond, Virginia

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 50
Metro Population: 1,269,530
Median Home Price: $348,232
Average Annual Salary: $52,620
CRSI Score: 4.98

Richmond is at a reduced risk of damage caused by major climate events due to its location inland from the coast, especially compared to Norfolk, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which both endure flooding issues from the coast and rivers. Still, Richmond faces heat waves and heavy rainfall. Active conservation efforts in the area and a greater amount of natural environment surrounding the city help to increase Richmond’s resiliency in the face of climate change, though its CRSI score dropped from 6.53 in 2017 to 4.98 in 2020.

Learn more about Richmond.

19. Fresno, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 136
Metro Population: 984,521
Median Home Price: $368,850
Average Annual Salary: $48,840
CRSI Score: 5.01

Fresno is an inland California metro area, with little risk for climate change events to cause large-scale devastation, according to the EPA. The local infrastructure, from utilities and roads to home construction, also appears to be better equipped to handle climate change events like rising temperatures. Fresno’s access to large highways and multiple major airports beyond the confines of its own metro area also make it an attractive place as climate issues grow.

Learn more about Fresno.

18. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 34
Metro Population: 1,062,392
Median Home Price: $296,730
Average Annual Salary: $47,010
CRSI Score: 5.02

The EPA notes that like Chicago, located less than 200 miles away by car, Grand Rapids is already experiencing rising temperatures and flooding, erosion and infrastructure damage from excessive rain. However, surrounding counties that make up the Grand Rapids metro area involve less of a built environment and lower risk than the city itself may pose. For the most part, the counties that make up the Grand Rapids area see average or higher levels of local government involvement to help reduce climate impact and better prepare for changing conditions.

Learn more about Grand Rapids.

17. Salisbury, Maryland

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 95
Metro Population: 404,417
Median Home Price: $244,000
Average Annual Salary: $44,020
CRSI Score: 5.06

Located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, separated from the rest of the state by the Chesapeake Bay, the Salisbury metro area is made up of counties in both Maryland and Delaware, reaching spots along the bay as well as those on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Coastal areas are naturally at risk of rising sea levels, but the fact that much of Maryland’s peninsula remains undeveloped helps to increase the Salisbury metro area’s ability to withstand changing conditions.

Learn more about Salisbury.

16. Madison, Wisconsin

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 16
Metro Population: 653,725
Median Home Price: $348,940
Average Annual Salary: $54,300
CRSI Score: 5.11

Madison is located within the Great Lakes states, which include Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The biggest threats these states face as the climate changes include extreme rainfall, flooding and extreme heat, with periodic drought also posing a potential problem. In the Madison metro area, however, diverse populations, a healthy natural environment and an active local government working on natural resource conservation offset the fairly high risk many of the counties face.

Learn more about Madison.

15. Kansas City, Missouri

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 57
Metro Population: 2,124,518
Median Home Price: $332,029
Average Annual Salary: $51,630
CRSI Score: 5.21

Located on the border of Kansas and Missouri, the Kansas City metro area is at risk of rising temperatures, which can threaten water and energy supplies in the future. However, the agricultural nature of the region also means that the counties in the Kansas City metro area outside the immediate city and suburbs have a lower level of threat to infrastructure, though extensive farming also reduces the amount of natural environment untouched by humans. The EPA reports that the most concerted efforts in the region, made up of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, are focused on ensuring the availability of water.

Learn more about Kansas City.

14. Salem, Oregon

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 62
Metro Population: 422,678
Median Home Price: $304,333
Average Annual Salary: $50,290
CRSI Score: 5.26

Like the rest of the West Coast, Salem area residents should be concerned about the growing threat of wildfires, along with rising temperatures, drought, extensive rainfall and flooding and more. Compared to the much more populous Portland, Oregon, to the north, Salem has relatively little infrastructure to be concerned about and more natural environment in and surrounding the metro area, which helps to increase its resiliency to changes in weather patterns, climate and the increased possibility of natural disasters.

Learn more about Salem.

13. Rochester, New York

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 72
Metro Population: $1,072,877
Median Home Price: $246,692
Average Annual Salary: $52,170
CRSI Score: 5.29

In upstate New York, Rochester benefits from being farther from the coast, having active conservation efforts and being located among an extensive natural environment that should help it withstand major weather events, natural disasters and extreme conditions. Rising temperatures and drought are reasonable concerns for the Rochester area and the rest of the region that includes New York and New Jersey, but extreme low temperatures are also a risk residents need to be prepared for.

Learn more about Rochester.

12. Las Vegas

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 137
Metro Population: 2,182,004
Median Home Price: $349,786
Average Annual Salary: $46,650
CRSI Score: 5.39

It’s no surprise that southern Nevada is at risk of rising temperatures, but Las Vegas is more resilient against climate change events than most of the rest of the U.S. While the densely populated parts of the Las Vegas metro area provide infrastructure and buildings that are able to withstand climate change, the area beyond offers a natural environment largely uninfluenced by people. Additionally, local and state government take an active role in conservation, though the local economy was hit hard in 2020 as a result of reduced tourism stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about Las Vegas.

11. Reno, Nevada

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 56
Metro Population: 460,924
Median Home Price: $388,200
Average Annual Salary: $48,460
CRSI Score: 5.45

Reno’s location in the Southwest means it’s most likely to be threatened by extreme heat, drought, insect outbreaks and wildfires. However, Reno appears to be at relatively low risk for these events compared to much of Southern California, and it has active local conservation efforts aimed at maintaining the natural environment and increasing sustainability. As a metro area of less than 500,000 people located at Nevada’s border with Northern California, Reno also benefits from an expansive natural environment that doesn’t require upkeep from people, making it more resilient to extreme weather or other natural events caused by climate change.

Learn more about Reno.

10. Boise, Idaho

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 11
Metro Population: 710,743
Median Home Price: $221,475
Average Annual Salary: $47,170
CRSI Score: 6.04

The EPA study places Boise within the Pacific Northwest region that covers Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Wildfires, tree disease, rising sea levels, erosion and melting permafrost threaten this region in general, but Idaho’s inland location helps offset some threats that are more specific to the coastlines of Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Additionally, Boise’s surrounding natural environment combined with its active local government, which is working to lessen human impact and prepare for climate change, makes Boise No. 10 on this list.

Learn more about Boise.

9. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 21
Metro Population: 319,401
Median Home Price: $181,700
Average Annual Salary: $47,400
CRSI Score: 6.31

Like much of the rest of the Great Lakes states, the Green Bay metro area scores higher than many other parts of the U.S. for the government efforts in place to curb negative impacts on the environment and better prepare for changing conditions. The entire region receives an average CRSI score of 5.76 from the EPA, which is above the national average — Green Bay, as a small metro area in a relatively unpopulated part of Wisconsin, scores even higher at 6.31, averaged from individual county scores.

Learn more about Green Bay.

8. Portland, Maine

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 8
Metro Population: 532,075
Median Home Price: $310,300
Average Annual Salary: $52,820
CRSI Score: 6.44

The major threats to the Northeast are rising sea levels, heat waves and heavy rain, which can put local infrastructure, agriculture and the fishing industry at risk. The condition of the natural environment in and around the Portland metro area, combined with efforts by the local government to conserve natural resources, establish a plan and prepare residents, helps raise the Portland area’s CRSI score higher compared to many counties farther south along the Atlantic coast.

Learn more about Portland.

7. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 120
Metro Population: 912,108
Median Home Price: $314,587
Average Annual Salary: $48,660
CRSI Score: 6.52

Albuquerque’s climate is best described as mountain desert: The air is dry, and desert flora is prominent throughout much of the metro area, which sits at an altitude of 5,312 feet. Extreme heat, drought, insect outbreaks and wildfires are a risk to the city, with such events potentially causing energy shortages in the future. But relatively little man-made infrastructure is located in the key locations where fires would be most likely to cause devastation, and Albuquerque boasts expansive natural areas that don’t rely on humans to maintain.

Learn more about Albuquerque.

6. Tucson, Arizona

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 81
Metro Population: 1,027,207
Median Home Price: $312,896
Average Annual Salary: $49,110
CRSI Score: 7.0

Tucson’s desert landscape has never been the most habitable environment, with its high daytime temperatures and cold nights that can make exposure to the elements dangerous. But when it comes to risk of major climate events affecting the area, Tucson is considered fairly resilient. The local infrastructure is expected to be able to withstand climate events, and local conservation efforts are roughly average with the rest of the U.S.

Learn more about Tucson.

5. Santa Barbara, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 115
Metro Population: 444,829
Median Home Price: $464,954
Average Annual Salary: $56,540
CRSI Score: 7.18

Located along the coast and south of the Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara may seem like an unexpected inclusion on this list, given the threat of wildfires in Southern California. However, the city is taking a proactive approach to climate change and the resulting weather events and natural hazards. Santa Barbara’s climate action plan is aimed at identifying major sources of carbon emissions in the community, developing strategies for curbing those emissions and actively working to create a more sustainable environment. In 2020, the city council adopted a goal of carbon neutrality by 2035.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

4. Eugene, Oregon

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 65
Metro Population: 373,340
Median Home Price: $323,000
Average Annual Salary: $48,820
CRSI Score: 8.49

At No. 4 on the list for best places to live if you’re concerned about climate change is Eugene, which as a lesser populated part of Oregon endures lower risk than the likes of Portland or even Salem. Despite the fact that the counties that make up Eugene average a fairly high CRSI score of 8.49, the area is specifically named in the EPA report as having endured severe drought and extensive wildfire in recent years.

Learn more about Eugene.

3. Spokane, Washington

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 550,160
Median Home Price: $276,400
Average Annual Salary: $51,120
CRSI Score: 9.32

Spokane is another metro area that benefits from its relatively remote location. The EPA report points out that sea level rise and shoreline erosion are major risks to infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest, but Spokane’s location on the eastern side of Washington means it avoids this particular threat. But like much of the Pacific Northwest, Spokane is vulnerable to future snowpack melt from the mountain ranges in both Washington and Montana as temperatures rise globally.

Learn more about Spokane.

2. Honolulu

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 113
Metro Population: 984,821
Median Home Price: $581,658
Average Annual Salary: $57,060
CRSI Score: 15.57

The EPA report notes that natural resource conservation is a strong contributor for many counties with high scores, and that’s certainly the case in Hawaii. Honolulu benefits from statewide efforts to reduce the chances of invasive species weakening the natural environment. Of course, the Honolulu metro area is at risk for seasonal tropical storms and hurricanes, but major damage or devastation is not typical in Hawaii due in part to colder water temperatures and the high-pressure system northeast of the islands that deters many big storms. Living in Honolulu comes at a cost, however: It’s the eighth-most expensive place to live out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Honolulu.

1. Anchorage, Alaska

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 90
Metro Population: 398,900
Median Home Price: $265,300
Average Annual Salary: $60,020
CRSI Score: 25.8

The Anchorage metro area has the highest CRSI score out of all the metro areas on the Best Places to Live list, due in large part to the fact that much of the metro area is not built up and remains wilderness. The natural environment is far more resilient to a major weather event than a large city setting and can better adapt to changing sea levels or temperatures. With less people and man-made infrastructure, there are fewer things to be maintained in the area, allowing the wilderness to react naturally to changing weather patterns and climate.

Learn more about Anchorage.

The best places to live in the U.S. if you’re concerned about climate change include:

— Anchorage, Alaska.

— Honolulu.

— Spokane, Washington.

— Eugene, Oregon.

— Santa Barbara, California.

— Tucson, Arizona.

— Albuquerque, New Mexico.

— Portland, Maine.

— Green Bay, Wisconsin.

— Boise, Idaho.

— Reno, Nevada.

— Las Vegas.

— Rochester, New York.

— Salem, Oregon.

— Kansas City, Missouri.

— Madison, Wisconsin.

— Salisbury, Maryland.

— Grand Rapids, Michigan.

— Fresno, California.

— Richmond, Virginia.

More from U.S. News

The 20 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather in 2021

The 25 Best Places for Young Professionals to Live

The 25 Best Places to Live for Families in the U.S. in 2021-2022

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. if You?re Concerned About Climate Change originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/12/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.



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