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Atlanta will be Amazon's new home

November 15, 2017 - It's been two months since Amazon announced they will be searching for a site for their new co-headquarters, resulting in hundreds of applications and endless speculation. Now we have the answer.

Trust us - it's going to be Atlanta.

So says the collective wisdom of urbanists, researchers, pundits and publications. The team at Sperling's BestPlaces collected 18 of the most reputable lists and rankings of potential Amazon HQ2 locations. Using those rankings, we created one huge super-study which tallied how each location performed and from that, we generated a score for each place.

The result is the meta-ranking of all 64 locations mentioned as possible Amazon HQ2 locations in the United States and Canada:

Sperling's Amazon HQ Hyper-Ranking

  • 1. Atlanta
  • 2. Boston
  • 3. Chicago
  • 4. Philadelphia
  • 5. Washington, D.C.
  • 6. Austin
  • 7. Dallas
  • 8. Denver
  • 9. New York City
  • 10. Raleigh

(full list of 64 at the end of this document)
(And here is a link to a Google spreadsheet showing our full analysis, see how your city scored.) (This just in... the Wall Street Journal released their rankings today, choosing Dallas as #1. See impact below.)

"Experts are clearly favoring Atlanta, according to our analysis," says Bert Sperling, of Sperling's BestPlaces, a firm specializing in livability issues and operator of www.bestplaces.net. "Boston and Chicago are close behind, but Amazon may very well make an unexpected pick for their new HQ2."

Sperling continues, "As several pundits have pointed out, finding a metropolitan area that meets all Amazon's criteria is not only difficult, but impossible. And the HQ2 project is such a massive scale, that it can transform an area, adding missing infrastructure to meet its needs. In this unique case, conventional thinking may be a disadvantage. I expect to be surprised."

In our Amazon Hyper-Ranking, the metro area of Atlanta is the clear winner, with six 1st-place selections. Atlanta was cited by many studies and articles as being large enough to absorb the expected 50,000 new Amazon workers, being a major air hub, and having a reasonable cost of living.

The Boston area is close behind, with a couple of 1st-place selections and finishing in the top ten in 12 of the 18 rankings we surveyed. Chicago lands in third, with three 1st-place nominations and eleven top-ten rankings. The remaining seven of the top ten spots are more distant from the leaders and closely clustered.

In the next group of metros ranked 11-20, we find Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Jose, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Portland OR, Nashville, Miami, and Los Angeles. In all, 64 metros were identified as possible locations for the new Amazon headquarters.

In its Request for Proposal, Amazon identified key factors such as a metro population greater than one million, a major airport nearby, a stable business climate, robust mass transit, a highly-educated labor pool, diverse population, low cost of living, and a high quality of life.

Boston and other Northeast locations were identified as likely sites, but their cost of living is some of the highest in the U.S. Also, these crowded cities make it difficult to accommodate an expansion as large as Amazon's.

Washington DC drew attention for several reasons. It's the seat of our political power and Jeff Bezos has a close personal connection with the area with a recent purchase of the city's largest home and ownership of the Washington Post.

Denver and Austin were also frontrunners. Austin is already the home of Amazon's newest purchase, Whole Foods, while Denver has a winning combination of a vibrant economy and a great quality of life not unlike Seattle. Plus Austin and Denver have plenty of land to expand and a lower cost of living than found on either coast.

UPDATE - As we release our study today (November 15, 2017), the Wall Street Journal published the results of their own analysis, produced in conjunction with real estate analytics firm Green Street Advisors. The WSJ picked Dallas as #1, followed by Boston, DC-tie, Atlanta-tie, Seattle-tie, Chicago, Denver, New York- tie, Nashville-tie, Austin, Minneapolis, and Newark. We put these findings into our model, and the preliminary impact is that Dallas rose from #7 to #6, and Philadelphia dropped to #7 from #4. There were a few other changes but the composition of the top ten places remained the same. Sperling's will release a new analysis which includes these WSJ choices for Amazon HQ2.

For more information, contact:
Bert Sperling - bert@bestplaces.net
Ted Sperling - ted@bestplaces.net

These are the studies we included in our meta-analysis:

Amazon HQ2 Location rankings from Sperling's Super-Study For details on every city, see the online spreadsheet showing our full analysis.

Super RankPlaceScore (lower is better)
1Atlanta13.6
2Boston17.2
3Chicago21.7
4Philadelphia25.8
5Washington DC 26.5
6Austin26.6
7Dallas27.7
8 Denver 28.3
9 New York 29.3
10Raleigh 31.6
11Pittsburgh 32.2
12Toronto, Canada34.5
13 San Jose 34.8
14 Salt Lake City 35.7
15 San Francisco 35.9
16 Minneapolis 36.4
17 Portland 36.8
18 Nashville 37.3
19 Miami 37.4
20 Los Angeles 37.7
21 Baltimore 38.7
22 Detroit 39.6
23 Houston 39.9
24 Charlotte 40
25 Phoenix 40.9
26 San Diego 41.5
28 Rochester 42.6
28 Seattle 42.6
29 Cincinnati 42.6
31 Richmond 42.9
31 Las Vegas 42.9
32 New Orleans 43
33 Orlando 43.2
34 Indianapolis 43.3
35 Columbus 43.9
36 Jacksonville 44.2
37 St. Louis 44.4
38 Kansas City 44.7
39 San Antonio 45.6
40 Cleveland 46.8
41 Hartford 46.9
42 Memphis 47.1
43 Tampa 47.4
44 Suburban Virginia 47.6
45 Virginia Beach 47.6
46 Tucson 47.7
47 Birmingham 47.8
48 Omaha 47.8
49 Providence 48.1
50 Syracuse 48.2
51 Colorado Springs 48.2
52 New Haven 48.3
53 Westchester, NY 48.3
55Calgary 48.4
55Suburban Maryland 48.4
56Montreal 48.6
57Chattanooga 48.6
58Anaheim 48.9
59Sacramento49.1
60Grand Rapids 49.1
61Ottawa49.2
62Riverside49.3
63Newark49.4
64 Vancouver, Canada 49.6

About Sperling's BestPlaces

Sperling's BestPlaces (www.bestplaces.net) is the nation's premier source for demographic and place data. Founded by author and researcher Bert Sperling over thirty years ago, BestPlaces helps over two million users a month make informed decisions about the best places for them to live, work, and retire. Bert's best selling books "Cities Ranked and Rated" and "Best Places to Raise Your Family" are published by John Wiley & Sons and he was tagged as the "The Guy Who Picks the Best Places" by the New York Times. Sperling's BestPlaces is responsible for more "Best Places" studies and research than any other single organization.