In 2022, what does it mean to be neighborly?
This year has brought Americans a much-needed sense of normalcy. But just as pandemic restrictions lifted — and people resumed planning gatherings, going on vacations, and buying new clothes to wear to formal events or the office — troubling economic conditions have stifled some of the excitement, especially when it comes to going out and spending. With inflation now at its highest rate in decades, picking up where we left off in 2019 comes with a much higher price tag.
But have these new challenges reunited communities? Have they changed how we interact with our neighbors around us? That’s what we wanted to find out.
We set out to do something we’ve been doing now for several years: Finding the 25 Most Neighborly Cities in America (see our 2021 and 2020 rankings). Each year, we’ve based these rankings on a variety of publicly available data sets related to charitable giving, generosity, happiness and well-being of residents, and other factors we think contribute to a city’s overall neighborliness.
This year is no different — we still took into account all those factors for the top 25. But what’s different in 2022 is that we surveyed actual Americans about their neighborly habits, their relationships with their neighbors, and what they think makes a community most neighborly. Here are some of the things we learned:
- Proximity makes the heart grow fonder. Because of higher prices at the gas pump and more expensive plane tickets, nearly 30% of people say they hang out with their neighbors and local friends more than they used to.
- You’ve got a friend in me. After enduring more than two brutal years of pandemic conditions and a tumultuous economy, 42.5% of people are more willing than before to help out a neighbor, and 41% are choosing to support small businesses over national chains.
- Republicans, democrats, and independents unite. Despite a big (and seemingly divisive) election this year, 45% of people recognize that their neighbors have different political affiliations than their own, but choose to be neighborly anyway.
There’s more on that in the methodology and survey results section at the end of this article, so without further ado, here they are: The 25 Most Neighborly Cities in America in 2022.
- Rochester, New York
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Provo, Utah
- Oxnard, California
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Poughkeepsie, New York
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Des Moines, Iowa
- San Jose, California
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Ogden, Utah
- Seattle, Washington
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- New Haven, Connecticut
- Portland, Oregon
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Toledo, Ohio
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- Albany, New York
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Spokane, Washington
#1: Rochester, New York
In 2022, the most neighborly city in America is Rochester, New York, population 206,357.
Rochester climbed from the #2 spot last year to claim the top ranking, and it’s no surprise — this very neighborly city ranked third overall for neighborly acts and fourth for volunteering. That’s alongside high scores for charitable giving and happiness, too.
As a city that offers plenty to do in its bustling neighborhoods, all nestled among nature preserves and county parks, Rochester is known by locals to be a place where residents love to live and never hesitate to lend a hand to their neighbors.
“One of the things we often hear from visitors is how welcoming and friendly Rochesterians are,” said Don Jeffries President and CEO of Visit Rochester, when the city ranked #2 last year. “This ranking is well-deserved and captures the warm welcome visitors can expect when they visit Greater Rochester.”
Congratulations to Rochester on being this year’s Most Neighborly City!
#2: Madison, Wisconsin
Fell from #1 in 2021.
Unsurprisingly Madison, Wisconsin still ranks highly on the list of the Most Neighborly Cities (even though it fell from the #1 spot this year). According to our research, Madison is the second happiest city in the U.S., and also boasts the most local nonprofits per capita on this year’s list at 16.6 per 10,000 residents. It’s clear that those who live in Madison still love to help each other out, and this city still has a well-deserved spot in the top two.
Life in Madison is even sweeter on two wheels — this city is one of only five platinum-level bike cities in the U.S., and it’s been named among the top cities on Earth for biking. If you’re ever visiting Madison, renting a bike is a great way to see the sights and meet the people who make it such a neighborly place to call home.
#3: Provo, Utah
Climbed from #23 in 2021.
Provo, Utah made great strides this year, climbing from #23 in 2021 to #3 in 2022. It’s no wonder, considering Provo had the highest rate of charitable giving (by far), as well as the highest number of residents who report volunteering for local organizations. It’s obvious that people living in Provo give back and it’s made the city an incredibly neighborly place to call home.
Provo is the third-largest city in Utah, but it’s where some of the biggest companies in the state (and even the entire country) have chosen to set up shop. Qualtrics, Nu Skin, and Vivint are just a few of the major companies that have made Provo their home.
#4: Oxnard, California
Climbed from #18 in 2021.
Oxnard, California was a newcomer on the list of Most Neighborly Cities last year, and this year has climbed significantly to reach the top five. Oxnard ranks in the top third of all cities for charitable giving, neighborly acts, and volunteering. But what really boosted its ranking is how happy people are to live there — Oxnard was ranked the fifth happiest place in the U.S.
Another thing that makes Oxnard such a great place to live is that it boasts over 20 miles of picturesque coastline with extremely soft, white sand, and relatively few rocks or pieces of driftwood.
#5: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Climbed from #14 in 2021.
Rounding out the top five is Grand Rapids, Michigan, jumping from its #14 position in 2021. Grand Rapids is in the top third for charitable giving, neighborly acts, and volunteering. But what really sets it apart is how abundant its parks are — 76% of all residents live within a 10-minute walk of a public park.
And here’s a fun fact: Grand Rapids was the first city in the U.S. to add cavity-preventing fluoride to its drinking water — all the way back in 1945!
#6: Raleigh, North Carolina
Climbed from #11 in 2021.
Raleigh, North Carolina ranked third for neighborly acts in 2021, and climbed to second in that category for 2022. That’s a big part of why it rose five places in the rankings, from #11 last year to #6 this year.
There’s even more that makes Raleigh such a great place to call home: the city is often called the Smithsonian of the South due to being home to a number of major state museums. It’s also called the City of Oaks because of how many of its streets are lined with tall and majestic oak trees.
#7: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Climbed from #10 in 2021.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the #1 city for neighborly acts this year, meaning it had the highest number of residents who report doing favors for their neighbors and other members of the community. Milwaukee also ranked very highly for proximity to parks, with 90% of its residents living within a 10-minute walk of a public park.
Milwaukee is also home to plenty of fun things to do. The Public Museum houses the world’s largest T-rex head, the Milwaukee Wave is the oldest soccer team in the United States, and the Oriental Theatre has hosted a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show every month since 1978.
#8: Poughkeepsie, New York
Poughkeepsie, New York is new on the list of Most Neighborly Cities this year, but has earned its spot. With high rates of charitable giving (15th in the nation overall) and happiness (13th in the U.S.), Poughkeepsie is clearly a place people love to live — and give back.
Interestingly, there’s a city of Poughkeepsie and a town of Poughkeepsie, and they’re right next to each other! Even though they’re technically two different places, when people say “Poughkeepsie,” they’re often referring to the city and the town collectively.
#9: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Climbed from #13 in 2021.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania climbed a few places from its 2021 ranking to land at #9 in 2022. A big part of what makes this city so neighborly is the number of locally focused nonprofits. It ranked third overall in this category, with 13.1 nonprofits per 10,000 residents.
Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market is more than just a cherished institution — it’s also the oldest continuously operating market in the United States. During the Civil War, thousands of Union soldiers stationed at nearby Camp Curtin bought their food from vendors on Broad Street.
#10: Des Moines, Iowa
Fell from #5 in 2021.
Rounding out the top ten of Most Neighborly Cities is Des Moines, Iowa. The community supports a lot of local nonprofits, with 13 local organizations for every 10,000 residents.
Fun fact: Des Moines was originally named Fort Raccoon. It then became Fort Des Moines, and finally, in 1857, was shortened to Des Moines.
#11: San Jose, California
Climbed from #12 in 2021.
San Jose, California climbed one spot this year, to #11 overall. A big part of why it rose in the rankings? It went from being the nation’s second happiest city in 2021, to the #1 happiest city in 2022. San Jose also continues to boast low crime rates, great weather, and many amenities that make it a place people love to call home.
San Jose is also home to a booming technology sector. This city boasts the largest concentration of tech experts in the world, with over 6,600 tech companies and startups.
#12: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Climbed from #21 in 2021.
This is the third year in a row that Colorado Springs, Colorado has made the Most Neighborly Cities list, and this is the highest it’s ever ranked before, at #12. Colorado Springs continues to have one of the highest rates of volunteering in the nation — a whopping 69% of residents there say they volunteer time to help others.
Colorado Springs is known for its Garden of the Gods, a park famous for its towering red sandstone rock formations. The park offers easy access to stunning vistas and outdoor activities for anyone.
#13: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fell from #4 in 2021.
Minneapolis, Minnesota still ranks highly for volunteering (third in the nation) and neighborly acts (sixth in the U.S.). Additionally, Minneapolis is a very neighborly place to live because residents enjoy the highest proximity to parks on our list — 99% of Minneapolis residents live within 10 minutes’ walking distance of a public park.
Minneapolis is also home to the largest continuous skyway on earth. Covering 60 downtown blocks, the Minneapolis Skyway is the best way to explore the city when the weather turns bad.
#14: Ogden, Utah
Ogden, Utah is new on the list this year, but certainly earned its spot — this Utah city is third in the nation for volunteering, with 50% of residents saying they’ve dedicated time to volunteer for their community this year. Ogden also has high rates of charitable giving.
Ogden’s downtown is known as the “Crossroads of the West” Historical District, which has been designated a national historic area.
#15: Seattle, Washington
Fell from #8 in 2021.
Although Seattle, Washington fell from its #8 spot in 2021, it’s still an incredibly neighborly place to call home. It’s the third happiest city in the U.S., and ranks second-highest for residents’ proximity to local parks — 99% of Seattlites live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Similar to the last two years, Seattle also has a high rate of volunteering in 2022.
Fun fact: Seattle is home to nearly 500 houseboats, more than anywhere else in the world. And even though the city has a reputation for gloomy weather, it actually gets less rain than Houston, Texas.
#16: Salt Lake City, Utah
Stayed the same, ranking #16 in 2021 and 2022.
Salt Lake City, Utah stayed the same as in 2021, ranking #16 on the list of the Most Neighborly Cities. It ranks fifth in the nation for both neighborly acts and volunteering.
Did you know, Salt Lake City is one of the most accessible ski destinations in the world? It’s also the home of the first KFC.
#17: New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut is new on the list this year, coming in at #17. This city ranks toward the middle of the pack for charitable giving, neighborly acts, volunteering, and happiness. What causes it to jump up the rankings is how close most New Haven residents live to public outdoor spaces — 96% of them live within a 10-minute walk of a park, the third highest number on this list. New Haven also boasts some of the lowest crime rates in the nation.
New Haven has always taken green spaces seriously — the city was the home of the first public tree planting program in the U.S., helping New Haven earn its nickname: Elm City.
#18: Portland, Oregon
Fell from #3 in 2021.
Portland, Oregon has made the list of Most Neighborly Cities every year so far. This year, it earned its spot by being in the top 10 for both neighborly acts and volunteering, showing that if you ever need a helping hand in Portland, you’re likely to find it.
If you’re ever in the City of Roses, though, make sure your shoes are tied. In Portland, it’s illegal to walk down the streets with untied shoes!
#19: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fell from #9 in 2021.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ranked #19 this year, due to its high rates of charitable giving and neighborly acts. And in Pittsburgh, 71% of residents live near a public park.
Did you know that Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum is home to some pretty famous artifacts? There you can find displays featuring the world’s first Big Mac, and the first T-rex skeleton ever discovered.
#20: Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii is back on the list! After making the Most Neighborly Cities list in 2020, Honolulu fell out of the top 25 in 2021. This year it’s back at #20, due in large part to the fact that it’s the ninth happiest city in the U.S.. Honolulu is also home to plenty of nonprofits, and is one of the most inclusive cities in the country.
Some fun facts: Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with its own language, and Honolulu is home to the only royal palace in the country.
#21: Toledo, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio ranks near the middle of the pack in charitable giving, volunteering, neighborly acts, and park access. What sets it apart (and secures its spot as the #21 Most Neighborly City in 2022) is how many nonprofits call Toledo home. Living in this city, you’ll never have any shortage of local organizations to help make a difference.
Another thing Toledo is well known for? Glass. Toledo’s nickname is ‘The Glass City’ due to the long history of glass production in this city. Toledo isn’t just the glass capital of the country — it’s the “Glass Capital of the World.”
#22: Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts ranks high for volunteering, showing that residents here value giving back to their community. It’s also one of the happiest cities on our list, and ranks high for proximity to parks — 94% of people who call Springfield home are a 10-minute walk or less from a public park.
Springfield is known as the “City of Firsts” because of its history of innovation, including the first American-made automobile and being the birthplace of basketball.
#23: Albany, New York
Albany, New York landed at #23 on this year’s list, with one of the highest rates of charitable giving. Notably, Albany has the second highest rate of nonprofits per capita on the list, with 14.1 organizations per 10,000 residents.
A fun fact about Albany: Many people don’t know that toilet paper was invented here!
#24: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Fell from #19 in 2021.
Allentown, Pennsylvania is back on the list for the second year in a row, and #24 on this year’s list of the Most Neighborly Cities. Similar to last year, Allentown residents can point to their high rates of volunteering and relatively low crime for helping them snag a spot on the list for the second year running.
Allentown is home to the Liberty Bell, which was rung to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
#25: Spokane, Washington
Fell from #17 in 2021.
Spokane, Washington has made the list for the second year in a row, rounding out the list at #25. Spokane residents have high rates of volunteering, and 87% of them live within a 10-minute walk of a park.
Spokane’s nickname is the Lilac City for the large Lilac Festival that’s held here every spring.
We started with a list of the 100 largest metro areas in the country and analyzed them using a combination of surveys, data points, and other factors.
We also surveyed 1,000 Americans about what factors they think make communities most neighborly. The results of that survey helped determine how each category was weighted — volunteering, charitable giving, and neighborly acts carried the most weight, followed by nonprofits per capita, then happiness and residents’ proximity to local parks.
There were also some factors that detract from a city’s neighborliness (like crime) that carried negative weight, so cities that ranked highest in those categories moved lower on the overall list. Here’s how each set of data was weighted based on survey responses:
Neighborly acts: 3
Charitable giving: 3
Nonprofits per capita: 2
Resident proximity to local parks: 1
Crime rate: -2
Incidence of hate crimes: -2
If any of the above data was not available for a certain city, it was ranked by its state average or the overall average for the data in that category.
Volunteering and Neighborly Acts
Americorps has collected data on volunteering rates in many American cities. We used this data to rank the cities where people did the most volunteering. As doing kind things for others is an important part of being neighborly, volunteering was given one of the highest weights when analyzing all the factors on this year’s Most Neighborly Cities rankings.
Data about neighborly acts also came from Americorps, but was weighted less heavily, because not all the cities had this data available.
Charitable giving data was analyzed from a number of sources, including Americorps, SmartAsset, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and CNN Money. By compiling rankings and analyses from these different sources, we ranked the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. by how much the average resident gives to charity in a given year.
Nonprofits per capita
This data was compiled by Governing, who used IRS data published by the National Center for Charitable Giving to find the number of locally-focused nonprofits in each U.S. city per 10,000 residents.
These rankings came from a WalletHub analysis that sought to find the happiest cities in America by comparing factors like physical and emotional well-being, employment, and sense of community.
Resident proximity to local parks
The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore Index ranks U.S. cities by the percentage of their residents who live within a 10-minute walk of a public park, which provided this data.
This data comes from the FBI, which tracks and compiles incidences of violent and property crimes per capita for each U.S. state and city.
Incidence of hate crimes
California State University has compiled an exhaustive report on the rates of hate crimes in each state, as well as a number of major U.S. cities. In this report, hate crimes are counted according to what fits the federal definition of a hate crime: a crime motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, gender, or gender identity.
Original Survey Data
In addition to the data above, we surveyed 1,000 Americans on Aug. 19, 2022, to learn what they think makes a community neighborly, how they connect with their neighbors, and whether the challenges of the last several years have brought their communities together.
Here’s what we learned.
How long did it take you to meet your neighbors?
- 41% say within a week.
- 23% say the day they moved in.
- 18% say within a month.
- 8% say within a year.
- 4% say over a year.
- 7% say they’ve never met their neighbors.
Have you done any favors for your neighbor(s) in the past year?
- 74% say yes.
- 26% say no.
Did you take the initiative to meet your neighbors when you moved in or did they come to you?
- 23% say they introduced themselves.
- 21% say they let their neighbors come to them.
- 56% said it was a mix of both.
How many of your neighbors do you know on a first-name basis?
- 28% say about 10% of their neighbors.
- 20% say about 25% of their neighbors.
- 22% say about half of their neighbors.
- 13% say about 75% of their neighbors.
- 8% say about 90% of their neighbors.
- 8% say all of their neighbors.
How do you say “welcome to the neighborhood?
- 19% say they knock on the door to introduce themselves.
- 14% say they bring a housewarming gift of food or a beverage.
- 9% say they bring a housewarming gift that is an item, like a plant, piece or decor, or gift card.
- 10% say they invite new neighbors over for a gathering.
- 35% say they do nothing.
How inflation has impacted neighborhoods and communities:
- 37% say local businesses like cafes and restaurants are becoming more expensive.
- 29% say they see their neighbors and friends more often because gas prices impacted how often and far they travel to see others.
- 29% say rising gas and travel prices have not affected the number of times they see their friends outside of the neighborhood.
- 22% say they host fewer parties and social gatherings due to rising costs.
- 21% say they attend fewer neighborhood and community events due to rising entrance costs.
- 18% say they do more free activities with their neighbors and friends due to rising costs.
- 14% say they offer to help their neighbors with free labor such as babysitting or watering their plants, in hopes they would return the favor.
- 8% say they host more dinner parties at home with neighbors and friends due to the rising cost of dining at a restaurant.
With less travel due to the pandemic and inflation, do you feel as though you feel more connected to your neighborhood and/or community?
- 52% say yes.
- 48% say no.
How people are engaging with their community and/or city as a result of the pandemic:
- 43% say they’re more willing to help a neighbor out when they ask or need it most.
- 41% say they support local businesses instead of national chains.
- 35% say they make a dedicated effort to be more friendly to strangers.
- 28% say they spend more time with neighbors and friends now that the world is opening up.
- 23% say they attend more community events.
- 18% say they make more charitable donations to local organizations.
- 16% say they volunteer more time to local organizations.
Do you feel like your community became more “neighborly” after the pandemic?
- 41% say yes.
- 14% say no.
- 45% say there’s been no change.
How downtown areas have been impacted by the pandemic:
- 40% say many businesses have closed downtown.
- 32% say their downtown area has returned to normal pre-pandemic conditions.
- 26% say their downtown area has more pandemic-cautions such as expanded outdoor seating options (possibly into the street, structures for weather-proof outdoor seating, etc.).
- 24% say there is heightened crime.
- 23% say there is less foot traffic downtown.
- 22% say their downtown area has more abandoned or boarded up buildings.
- 9% say more people are moving downtown as new businesses and housing have been added to the area.
Have your favorite community events and festivals returned since the pandemic?
- 42% say yes, they’ve all returned.
- 46% say some have returned.
- 12% say no, none have returned.
Do you know your neighbors’ political affiliations?
- 43% say they don’t know any.
- 22% say they know a few neighbors’ political leanings
- 22% say they know about half their neighbors’ political leanings.
- 13% say they know all of their neighbors’ political leanings.
Do politics affect your relationship with your neighbors?
- 45% say their neighborhood is politically mixed, yet neighbors spend time together without politics getting in the way.
- 16% say most of their neighbors share their own political affiliations, but politics don’t come up in their relationships.
- 14% say most of their neighbors have different political views than their own, but they still get along.
- 10% say their neighborhood is politically mixed, and they only hang out with neighbors who share their own views.
- 9% say their neighborhood is politically mixed and it causes arguments.
- 4% say most of their neighbors have different political views than their own, and they don’t get along.
- 3% say most of their neighbors share their own political views, and they don’t spend time with those that don’t.
Has your neighborhood become more or less diverse over the past year?
- 33% say more diverse.
- 11% say less diverse.
- 56% say their neighborhood has not changed in this regard.
How has the importance of having a relationship with your neighbors changed over the past two years?
- 32% say it’s become more important.
- 13% say it’s become less important.
- 55% say the importance is about the same.
Survey respondents ranged in age from 16-54. They were 43% male, and 57% female.
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