‘We’re Titletown for a reason’: US News & World Report names Green Bay the best place to live in America

Residents say the city is a good place to raise a family, but share a few pet peeves

The Bay of Green Bay shines at night.
Green Bay was named the best place to live in America by U.S. News and World Report Tuesday. Photo Courtesy of the Greater Green Bay Chamber

Green Bay is the best place to live in America. At least, that’s what the U.S. News & World Report thinks.

Each year, the media company releases its ranking of the best places to live in the United States out of 150 metro areas. It also ranks colleges and universities, as well as high schools.

But U.S. News & World Report’s rankings have been criticized in recent years by college presidents, policymakers and high school guidance counselors for being unreliable, meaningless and skewing educational priorities, according to The New York Times. As of February, over one dozen medical schools and 40 law schools said they would no longer send the outlet information for its rankings.

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Despite recent backlash, many in the Green Bay community welcomed the recognition Tuesday, after being near the top of U.S. News & World Report’s affordability list for several years. The outlet praised Green Bay for affordability, low crime, high air quality, varied attractions and outdoor activities. It was the only Wisconsin city to make the top 10, while Madison ranked No. 11 and Milwaukee came in at 65th.

Resident Mary Vanboxel said she was thrilled about the ranking. She moved to Green Bay in 1985, and said it was the ideal location for her to raise a family.

“I’m from the Minneapolis area, and — other than missing family — this has been the best (place) for raising kids,” she said. “It’s been a really good spot, and our kids are raising their kids here.”

Residents who spoke to Wisconsin Public Radio about the ranking had similar sentiments. One such resident was engineer Philip Kline, who moved to the city in 2018 after getting married and is raising his son there.

“You get all the advantages of a city with a lot of different eating options or shopping options, but you don’t really have to deal with any of the traffic — unless it’s a Packers game day,” he said.

Missy Steffek said she was raised in Green Bay, moved away for college and returned after briefly living in Appleton.

“I’m shocked it got first, but it’s great,” she said of the ranking. “There’s lots to do for adults and families, and you can embrace the outdoors in the warm and the cold.”

Luis Villa Lozano was born and raised in Green Bay, and said he enjoys living in the city.

“I don’t know about the best (place to live), but I definitely think it’s got a lot of charm to it,” he said. “It’s sort of like what a big city would be without all the chaos that goes into it.”

Someone rides their boat in Green Bay
Green Bay was praised by U.S. News & World Report for its outdoor activities in both the summer and winter. Photo Courtesy of the Greater Green Bay Chamber

While most residents who spoke to WPR had a generally positive view of the city, even they had a few pet peeves.

“Be wary around football season as the traffic can get insane and the people can get a little bit rowdier,” said Villa Lozano.

“It’s not particularly diverse, so when you go to the larger cities, there’s a lot more diversity,” Steffek said.

“The roads could be a little better, but I understand that we live in Wisconsin, and winters are pretty tough on the roads here,” Kline added.

Meanwhile, city and economic development officials said they view the ranking as a recruitment tool that could help bring more people to northeast Wisconsin.

“As we continue to raise awareness to our community and all of the great things we have to offer, it certainly helps with our talent attraction efforts,” said Morgan Doshi, director of talent with the Greater Green Bay Chamber. “We want more people to consider Green Bay as a place to live and work and thrive.”

Mayor Eric Genrich said he’s believed Green Bay was the best city in America “for a long time,” but he appreciated the national recognition.

“I joke that, ‘We’re Titletown for a reason, so (we’re) pretty comfortable being number one,’” he said.