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Which Is America's Best City?

Ask most people which city they would most want to live in and usually their answers would be shaped by such realities as proximity to their jobs and what they can afford. But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost? What if you could live in a city that offered a wealth of culture, entertainment, good schools, low crime, and plenty of green space? Many people might opt for obvious choices such as New York or San Francisco, but great as they are, data reveal other cities are even better.

Businessweek.com spent months working with data that would help us to identify the best cities in the U.S. We looked at a range of positive metrics around quality of life, counted up restaurants, evaluated school scores, and considered the number of colleges and pro sports teams. All these factors and more add up to a city that would seem to offer it all. When we began the process we had no idea which cities would come out on top. The winner? Raleigh, N.C.