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Top 10 cities for the center in 2023

A study by StorageCafe has identified the top 10 cities to live in in the US by 2023. Places that offer the “best bang for the buck” include several cities in the South, downtown Chicago, IL. and Boston, Massachusetts.

Based on a combination of metrics including cost of living, housing options, entertainment, safety and other desirable city features, here are StorageCafe’s top 10 cities for the ultimate downtown living experience.

10. Phoenix, Ariz.

Center, Phoenix, Ariz. Photo: SeanPavonePhoto, Adobe Stock
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Multifamily living is the dominant housing option in downtown Phoenix, Ariz., according to the report. Its downtown scene gives residents access to live music, art galleries, theaters and nearly 200 restaurants. Overall, Phoenix is ​​the best.

  • Apartments: fitness centers
  • Housing availability related to population
  • Access to theaters

Between 2012 and 2021, metro Phoenix experienced 14% population growth, according to an analysis by RentCafe. The city built 62,000 new apartments during that period, as well as 10 million sf.

9. San Diego, California.

San Diego, California, Center
Downtown San Diego, California Photo by Brett Sayles, Pexels

Downtown San Diego, California residents are afforded plenty of shopping and entertainment, fresh grocery stores, and the ability to live in one of the green certified buildings that make up 13% of downtown housing. Overall, San Diego is the best.

  • Public EV chargers
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Green apartment buildings

According to a StorageCafe study, about 80% of apartment buildings in downtown San Diego offer access to fitness centers. Downtown also has 180 electric vehicle (EV) chargers, as well as 12.6 restaurants and 7.3 shops per 1,000 residents.

8. Columbus, Ohio

Downtown Columbus, Ohio
Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Photo: f11photo, Adobe Stock

Columbus, Ohio attracts young professionals with its strong economy and urban buzz. Downtown Columbus apartments offer 790 sf of space per person, 250 more than the national average. Overall, Columbus is the best.

  • Housing availability related to population
  • Access to restaurants
  • Access to theaters

Columbus’ Old Towne and downtown neighborhoods are packed with cafes, specialty shops, and plenty of options for all tastes and budgets.


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7. Houston, Texas

Downtown Houston, Texas
Downtown Houston, Texas. Photo by Nate Hovee via Pexels

Based on the report, more than half of the top 10 cities are located in the South, with Texas occupying three places in the ranking. Overall, Houston is the best.

  • Rent-to-income ratio
  • Housing space for one person
  • Apartments with access to fitness centers

Houston’s rent-to-income ratio is one of the lowest at 22%, several points below the national threshold of 30%. Apartments in the city center are then among the most affordable, and also among the largest, with an area of ​​890 sf per person.

6. Nashville, Tenn.

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee
Downtown Nashville, Tenn. Photo by James Anthony, Pexels

More than half (65%) of downtown Nashville apartments are in high-end buildings. Overall, Nashville is the best.

  • Housing availability related to population
  • Access to restaurants
  • Access to theaters

While Nashville continues to anchor its reputation as “country music central,” there’s more to it than meets the eye. According to StorageCafe’s report, the downtown scene ranks first for restaurant (22.4 per 1,000 people) and theater (19.4 per 1,000 people) options.

5. Seattle, Wash.

Downtown Seattle, Washington Space Needle
Seattle Center, Washington. Photo by Josh Fields, Pexels

Seattle, Washington has a downtown that combines nature and city. “People can easily ride a bike, go hiking or sip a latte without leaving a downtown zip code,” writes StorageCafe writer Mirela Mohan. Seattle, Washington is the best.

  • Rent-to-income ratio
  • Green apartment buildings
  • Neighborhood safety

Seattle’s downtown area includes more than 20% of green-certified properties, fitness centers in nearly 80% of apartment buildings, and residents earning one of the highest median household incomes ($118k/year).

4. Boston, Mass.

Downtown Boston, Massachusetts
Downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Abdullah Almutair, Pexels

Boston, Massachusetts has luxury apartments that make up 93% of its downtown units. Additionally, 25% of downtown housing is green certified. Boston is the best.

  • Apartments located in luxury buildings
  • Green apartment buildings
  • Access to restaurants

The city is also among the most educated on the list. Nearly 80% of adults living in downtown Boston have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The area also has 18.4 restaurants and 2.9 theaters per 1,000 people.

3. Chicago, Ill.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois
Downtown Chicago, Ill. Photo by Grzegorz Zdanowski, Pexels

Two-thirds of the apartments in downtown Chicago are upscale, though renters justify the city’s cost of living with a wide selection of amenities. Chicago, Ill., is the best.

  • Educated population
  • Green apartment buildings
  • Rent-to-income ratio

Downtown Chicago has 11 restaurants per 1,000 people, apartment complexes that almost all (90%) have fitness centers, and more than 140 EV charging stations.

2. Austin, Texas

People cross a city street in Austin, Texas
Downtown Austin, Texas. Photo by Jeswin Thomas, Pexels

Austin is the second of three Texas cities to make the list. Nearly half (47%) of its downtown apartment complexes are LEED certified, and it hosts some of the largest apartments in the country per person (939 sf/person). Austin, Texas is the best.

  • Green apartment buildings
  • Apartment individual space
  • Educated population

In addition to its 14.6 restaurants and 2.8 theaters per 1,000 people, downtown Austin is the number one city in the country for green certified apartment buildings. Additionally, StorageCafe finds Austin to be one of the safest places on the list.

1. Dallas, Texas

Downtown Dallas, Texas
Downtown Dallas, Texas. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Dallas, Texas is the first city center to live in multiple areas. The majority (95%) include fitness centers, premium apartments make up 81% of the units, and the average apartment price is about 1,000 sf/person. Dallas, Texas is the best.

  • Apartments with access to fitness centers
  • Apartments located in luxury buildings
  • Apartment individual space

Dallas has also been the leading US city in multifamily and self-storage development over the past decade. Dallas’ activity in the development of storage units is followed by New York, New York; Houston, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; and Phoenix, Ariz.; According to RentCafe’s analysis of Yardi Matrix data.


CONNECTED. The development of self-storage is increasing in highly multi-layered construction areas