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Houston Tops Forbes List of Coolest Cities To Live

By JAMES HOLLINGSWORTH, CBS Houston
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File photo of the Houston skyline during summer. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

File photo of the Houston skyline during summer. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Houston was named America’s coolest city to live in, according to a report by Forbes magazine.

Using the most recent data from the US census bureau, cities were graded on a variety of both empirical and subjective factors including net migration and unemployment as well as recreational factors, entertainment options per capita, local bars and restaurants per capita, and diversity.

Long known for business, oil, NASA, the report credits Houston’s robust job market as the key to the city’s newfound coolness. Houston’s economy was not as heavily affected by the recession as other prominent American cities, and nearly 50,000 Americans, many of them young professionals, took advantage of Houston’s 2.6% job growth last year.

As a result, the media age has been lowered to 33 and Houston’s stuffy corporate reputation has slowly developed into a more artsy personality. Trendy new housing developments, restaurants, art galleries, world-class museums, and a strong theater scene have enticed new residents and developed Houston into America’s premier multicultural, zoning-free city.

Cities on the list generally fell into two categories – cities with an established history of coolness, such as New York or Los Angeles (ranked 10th and third, respectively), and cities whose low cost of living and strong economy have recently made them more attractive for up-and-coming professionals  such as Houston, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia (ranked second, 14th, and 15th).

Houston is joined in the Top 20 by four other major metropolitan areas in Texas - Dallas ranked fourth, San Antonio 11th, Fort Worth 13th, and Austin 19th. They all boast strong economies, large youg adult populations and relatively high levels of cultural diversity.

Among the five Texas cities in the list, Houston had the highest recreation index, highest diversity index, greathest number of local eats, and best 2011 net migration. Houston’s arts & culture scene was also tied with Fort Worth for second place, median age was third, and unemployment was tied for 4th place with Dallas.

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