The Best and Worst American Cities to Live as Climate Change Gets Worse

Homeownership is one of the best ways to secure a comfortable financial future. But with the effect of climate change kicking in front doors worldwide, locking yourself into a decades-long mortgage can mean exposing yourself to future adverse impacts of blistering heat waves, heavy storms, wildfires, and flooding — not to mention the rising insurance premiums that come with all of that. (Find out how 2023 compares to the hottest summers over last 50 years.)

In order to gauge where in the United States people are more or less likely to endure climate change impacts, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a ranking by online insurance marketplace Policygenius, which examined how the country’s 50 most-populated metropolitan statistical areas will fare by 2050 based on several climate change-related indicators that impact an area’s livability such as heat, air quality, and rising sea levels. Policygenius’ full methodology can be found here.

Despite the constant threat of earthquakes, San Francisco earned the highest overall score as the best city to confront the effects of climate change, with minimal exposure to extreme heat and humidity; a low percentage of properties built on flood plains; and geographically shielded from the effects of seasonal wildfires. Policygenius emphasizes that this ranking is of the largest metros and San Francisco has a much higher risk than many smaller cities.

Seattle, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Milwaukee are other cities that received high overall scores.

At the other end, Houston is least prepared to confront the challenges of climate change, according to Policygenius, owing to its exposure to hurricanes that are expected to become stronger and more frequent in the coming decades. Approximately 16% of Houston homes are built on 100-year flood plains, meaning they have a higher chance of being flooded, even by smaller storms. Other cities with low overall scores are Los Angeles, Tucson, Arizona; New Orleans, and Florida’s top four most-populated metro areas. (Globally, these are the 25 worst cities to live as global warming gets worse.)

Three cities scored the lowest in four indicators: Los Angeles for air quality, Tucson for heat and humidity, and Miami for flooding and sea level rise; climate-related disasters. This is likely not surprising. A recent report from the American Lung Association gave Los Angeles (and 10 other counties) failing grades in all three of its air quality measures,while Tucson keeps beating heat records. Similarly, Miami could see hurricanes becoming more frequent and more intense, and it is already seeing the effects of sea level rise

Click here to see the best and worst American cities to live as climate change gets worse.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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