U.S. News releases latest Best Places to Live report

Ocala retains its #6 spot from a year ago for fastest growing metro, but slides in other categories.

In this file photo, Motorists drive on I-75 as shown from the Southwest 66th Street bridge south of Ocala on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

Home » Community
Posted May 20, 2022 | By James Blevins

Marion County Commissioner Carl Zalak III presented the State of the County address at the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) breakfast on Thursday, May 17.

Included in his county update, Zalak presented a slide show, which utilized the “U.S. News & World Report” Best Places to Live rankings from 2021-2022.

The slide informed the gathered crowd that Ocala was ranked fourth in the Safest Place to Live category, ranked sixth in the Fastest Growing Metro category and ranked sixth, again, in the Best Place to Retire category.

Coincidentally, that same day the “U.S. News & World Report” released its 2022-2023 Best Places to Live rankings on its website and, according to the new lists, Ocala’s rank stayed the same in only one area: Fastest Growing Metro, #6 out of the 150 metros.

According to the new rankings, Ocala dropped from #4 in the Safest Places to Live category to #10. Ocala had also dropped from #6 in the Best Places to Retire category to #16.

Of the 150 metros included in the “U.S. News & World Report” rankings, Ocala had fallen from the 58th-ranked Best Place to Live last year to 91 this year—the most precipitous change in the rankings for Ocala from one year ago.

For some context, Tampa, with a metro population of 3.2 million people (significantly more than Ocala’s metro population of 360,210), was ranked sixth in the Best Places to Retire category, ranked fifth in the Best Places to Live in Florida category, ranked sixth in the Safest Places to Live category, all higher rankings than Ocala in 2022-2023. Tampa was also the ranked 15th in the Fasting-Growing Place category; the one category Ocala had the better ranking (sixth).

Overall, Tampa was ranked the 39th Best Place to Live in 2022-2023—52 places ahead of Ocala.

“U.S. News & World Report” creates its rankings by using data from several sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as the outlet’s own internal resources. The data is then categorized into five indexes and evaluated using a methodology determined by Americans’ preferences, according to the “U.S. News & World Report” website.

The percent weighting for each index follows the answers from a March 2022 public survey in which people from across the country voted for what they believed was the most important factor to consider when choosing where to live.