Chesapeake Bay region best place to live? Outside Mag: Yup. Fed Gov’t: Meh.

Outside magazine ranks Annapolis the #13 best place to live in America. While a USDA Natural Amenities Scale gives Annapolis and the rest of the Chesapeake Bay region average rankings on scenery and climate.

Anne Arundel County, where Annapolis resides, ranked 951 out of 3,111 counties for natural amenities. It did well on the water scale but weather — hot and humid summers combined with sometimes frosty winters — dragged the county down considerably along with a lack of topical variability.

Outdoor magazine didn’t seem to mind at all.”While it’s not cheap, you can buy a home with bay views for under $400,000, and jobs—many in tourism and the military—are plentiful.”  writes Megan Michelson. But she points out “It can get touristy on peak weekends.”

September cover of Outside magazine
September cover of Outside magazine

And to “see Annapolis shine” Megan suggests watching the Wednesday night sailboat races in the summer that begin and end in the Annapolis harbor, followed by the crews of more than 100 boats talking smack and rehashing in local bars.

According to the magazine, Annapolis ranks better than Bar Harbor, Maine, and Lake Placid, New York, but not quite as good as Spearfish, South Dakota. It ranked Chattanooga, Tennessee, the best place to live in America.

According to the USDA, Ventura County, California, is the best place to live. That’s assuming most people want to live near the water, not too far from mountains, have a temperate summer and a sunny winter.

Christopher Ingraham with the Washington Post crunched the government’s data into an interactive map that shows each county’s ranking.

National Amenities Map
This is a screenshot of the Christopher’s map. Click on the map and you’ll go to the’s interactive map.

The lowest ranking areas were in the Minnesota/North Dakota area. Minnesotans started a campaign against the article which Christopher amusingly describes in a follow-up article. Bottomline, we rank lower than California but better than the Great Lakes region. Or, not as good as Flagstaff, Arizona but higher than Rochester, Minnesota. Okay, so we at least beat Minnesota in both reports.

USDA natural amenities maps
USDA breakdown of “natural amenities” that most U.S. residents want when deciding where to live

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