The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Allergy Sufferers

Keep your environmental allergies under control in these metro areas.

Just about everyone is looking for good weather, whether that means moderate temperatures or hot days with little guarantee of snow. But regardless of how ideal the weather may be, pollen allergies keep many people inside as flowers and trees bloom and prompt itchy eyes, sore throats and runny noses. While the risk for allergies is not a part of the data compiled to determine the overall Best Places to Live in the U.S. list, a spike in pollen levels may have you wondering where you can go to experience a little less seasonal hay fever.

How we determined the best metro areas for your allergies

To calculate the Best Places to Live for Allergy Sufferers, we pulled in the results of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2021 Allergy Capitals report. The AAFA report considers pollen levels, allergy medicine use and number of allergy specialists in each city. To provide greater context about factors that can contribute to allergy issues, 40% of the final score is based on good air quality days in 2020 and the maximum Air Quality Index score in 2020 by core-based statistical areas, which take data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The AQI scale measures air pollution level and whether the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Note that due to limited pollen data in some parts of the U.S., 92 out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. were considered for this list.

25. Des Moines, Iowa

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 13
Metro Area Population: 680,439
Median Home Price: $273,134
Average Annual Salary: $52,890

Des Moines residents benefit from plenty of days with good air quality — more than 300 days in 2020 had an Air Quality Index score below 50, according to the EPA, posing little to no risk for anyone who wanted to venture outside. The highest AQI recorded in the Des Moines area in 2020 was 186, which is an unhealthy level where everyone may experience adverse health effects, though this was an atypical score for the area.

Learn more about Des Moines.

24. Boise, Idaho

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 11
Metro Area Population: 710,743
Median Home Price: $221,475
Average Annual Salary: $47,170

If you’re looking for a smaller metro where you can enjoy nearby outdoor attractions without fearing itchy eyes and a runny nose, you should consider Boise. The AAFA reports show Boise is one of the best places to be for lower-than-average pollen levels in spring and fall and need for allergy medication during that time, with neither season experiencing significantly worse pollen levels than the other.

Learn more about Boise.

23. Tampa, Florida

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 32
Metro Area Population: 3,097,859
Median Home Price: $301,963
Average Annual Salary: $49,590

Spring is a tougher season for allergy sufferers than fall in Tampa, but overall the area experiences relatively low pollen levels in the air. Out of the 366 days in 2020, 265 of them were measured as good Air Quality Index days, based on EPA data. That makes it easy to take advantage of the warm weather and popular beaches that the Tampa metro area is known for.

Learn more about Tampa.

22. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 27
Metro Area Population: 3,573,609
Median Home Price: $237,367
Average Annual Salary: $59,310

The EPA reports that in 2020, 261 days had good scores on the Air Quality Index, and the highest AQI was 160, which is an unhealthy level for the general population but not hazardous. When it comes to pollen allergies, however, the AAFA ranks Minneapolis in the 20 best cities with better-than-average fall and spring allergy seasons and less need for allergy medicine and allergy specialists.

Learn more about Minneapolis-St. Paul.

21. Washington, D.C.

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 28
Metro Area Population: 6,196,585
Median Home Price: $521,277
Average Annual Salary: $72,600

The nation’s capital is famous for the National Cherry Blossom Festival each spring. While the event can certainly cause some allergen distress, the area maintains average spring allergies compared to the rest of the country. Residents of the Washington area will also appreciate the milder pollen levels in fall. In 2020, 285 days of the year had good air quality, according to EPA data.

Learn more about Washington.

20. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 61
Metro Area Population: 571,013
Median Home Price: $265,150
Average Annual Salary: $50,450

Pennsylvania’s capital comes in at No. 20 on the list, with fairly closely matched spring and fall allergy seasons in the latter half of AAFA’s list of allergy capitals, and it’s considered a better place to be if you have seasonal allergies overall. The highest AQI recorded in 2020 for the Harrisburg area was 137.

Learn more about Harrisburg.

19. San Francisco

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 15
Metro Area Population: 4,701,332
Median Home Price: $1,047,714
Average Annual Salary: $75,890

San Francisco has mild allergy seasons compared to the rest of the U.S., but fall sees especially little pollen activity and little need of allergy medicine among residents. In 2020, 226 days were reported to have good air quality, according to EPA data. But if you want to take advantage of the good conditions in San Francisco, prepare to pay more money — the median home price in San Francisco is over $1 million.

Learn more about San Francisco.

18. Greensboro, North Carolina

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 94
Metro Area Population: 762,063
Median Home Price: $251,877
Average Annual Salary: $45,740

Plenty of days in Greensboro can be spent outside without major concern for poor air quality. In 2020, the EPA reports 331 days rated as good AQI days, and the maximum AQI score was just 87, which is moderate and limits the potential health concern to very few people. The fall allergy season is a bit easier than spring, though both fall under average pollen levels, according to AAFA’s 2021 report.

Learn more about Greensboro.

17. Nashville, Tennessee

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 30
Metro Area Population: 1,871,903
Median Home Price: $366,113
Average Annual Salary: $49,890

Both the spring and fall allergy seasons fall under the average range when it comes to pollen levels, need for allergy medicine and the availability of allergy specialists in the area, but Nashville ranks No. 73 out of 100 on the AAFA list, where 100 is for less severe allergy seasons. In 2020, 274 days were good air quality days, according to the EPA.

Learn more about Nashville.

16. Omaha, Nebraska

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 25
Metro Area Population: 931,779
Median Home Price: $303,980
Average Annual Salary: $50,550

If you’re allergy-prone and considering putting down roots in Omaha, you can expect the spring allergy season to be a bit better than fall — in spring the pollen levels are better than average in Omaha, while in fall they’re more on par with the national average, according to AAFA. The maximum AQI recorded in 2020 was 156, according to the EPA, which is unhealthy for the general population, but well below higher levels in the U.S.

Learn more about Omaha.

15. Daytona Beach, Florida

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 69
Metro Area Population: 646,288
Median Home Price: $278,897
Average Annual Salary: $40,930

Daytona Beach falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to pollen levels, allergy medicine and the need for allergy specialists in the metro area, according to the AAFA’s report. However, Daytona Beach residents seem to benefit from the sea air when it comes to air quality — 331 days out of 366 in 2020 were good days with little to no risk for anyone, even sensitive groups to pollutants.

Learn more about Daytona Beach.

14. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 6
Metro Area Population: 723,498
Median Home Price: $455,371
Average Annual Salary: $52,360

Colorado Springs ranks in the top 20 on the AAFA list for mild spring and fall allergies, and 255 days in 2020 were considered good days for air quality, with AQI scores below 50. However, the metro area does have the potential to endure days that are unhealthy for the general population — the maximum AQI measured in 2020 was 151, according to the EPA, which can have everyone experiencing adverse effects.

Learn more about Colorado Springs.

13. Lakeland, Florida

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 80
Metro Area Population: 686,218
Median Home Price: $237,710
Average Annual Salary: $43,150

With 312 good AQI days in 2020, Lakeland sees very few days where air pollution is considered a risk to anyone. Combined with average spring and fall allergy seasons, Lakeland is a better place than most to endure seasonal allergies. This makes it easy for more people to get out and on the many lakes and rivers that make up the Lakeland area, or even to venture outside the metro to coastal parts of Florida.

Learn more about Lakeland.

12. Melbourne, Florida

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 18
Metro Area Population: 585,507
Median Home Price: $217,400
Average Annual Salary: $51,180

Along the Atlantic coast of Florida, the Melbourne metro area experienced 324 good air quality days in 2020 out of 366. On top of that, the maximum AQI score measured in 2020 was 84, which is considered only a moderate health concern for a small number of people, according to the EPA. When it comes to pollen, however, the city of Palm Bay, which is a part of the Melbourne metro area, experiences average levels and allergy medication use.

Learn more about Melbourne.

11. Baltimore

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 100
Metro Area Population: 2,796,733
Median Home Price: $337,536
Average Annual Salary: $59,250

Baltimore-area residents get their fair share of pollen in spring and fall, but the city ranks No. 79 on the AAFA’s list of Allergy Capitals for 2021, making it a good spot for low pollen. In 2020, there were 285 out of 366 good AQI days for the metro area, according to EPA data. The maximum AQI in 2020 was just 119.

Learn more about Baltimore.

10. Salt Lake City

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 23
Metro Area Population: 2,480,709
Median Home Price: $458,230
Average Annual Salary: $50,130

Ranking fifth for spring allergies and sixth for allergies in the fall, Salt Lake City sees mild pollen levels compared to most of the U.S. The EPA reported 186 good AQI days in 2020 for the Salt Lake City metro area, which makes for plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the many hiking, biking and skiing opportunities in this mountainous part of the country.

Learn more about Salt Lake City.

9. Stockton, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 147
Metro Area Population: 742,603
Median Home Price: $438,645
Average Annual Salary: $49,880

Located inland from the San Francisco Bay Area, this Northern California metro area has mild allergy seasons. Spring pollen levels in Stockton are better than the national average, according to AAFA, with average allergy medicine use and access to allergy specialists. Stockton also had 192 out of 366 days with good AQI days in 2020, which is lower than some places on this list, but far better than many other parts of California — a state that sees many struggles with air quality.

Learn more about Stockton.

8. Boston

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 31
Metro Area Population: 4,832,346
Median Home Price: $632,943
Average Annual Salary: $69,240

Winter storms may be notorious in Boston, but residents fortunately don’t have to be concerned about particularly harsh spring and fall allergy seasons, though there’s still a good chance you’ll find your nose tingling from time to time. In 2020, as many as 294 days ranked “good” on the Air Quality Index, and the maximum AQI for the year was just 97.

Learn more about Boston.

7. Worcester, Massachusetts

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 83
Metro Area Population: 941,338
Median Home Price: $391,061
Average Annual Salary: $56,110

Fairly centrally located in Massachusetts, Worcester residents experience mild spring and fall allergy seasons compared to the likes of Springfield, Massachusetts, which ranks as the No. 7 Allergy Capital by the AAFA for 2021. Worcester’s less intense allergy seasons can make for an easier time if you want to take advantage of scenic drives and walks in the Worcester area as leaves change color in fall.

Learn more about Worcester.

6. Rochester, New York

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 72
Metro Area Population: 1,072,877
Median Home Price: $246,692
Average Annual Salary: $52,170

Out of the 100 cities the AAFA lists on its Allergy Capitals, with one being the worst for seasonal allergies and 100 being the best, Rochester falls in the middle at No. 65. In addition, the upstate New York metro area saw 320 good air quality days in 2020, which helps to keep immunocompromised or asthmatic members of the population from having to stay inside.

Learn more about Rochester.

5. San Jose, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 36
Metro Area Population: 1,987,846
Median Home Price: $1,302,118
Average Annual Salary: $83,960

San Jose’s pollen levels are low compared to most of the U.S. in both fall and spring. Additionally, San Jose saw 227 good AQI days in 2020, according to the EPA. The metro area is not without days that could have poor air quality, however — the maximum AQI in 2020 was 186, which is an unhealthy level and the general population could experience adverse effects of poor air quality on such a day.

Learn more about San Jose.

4. Seattle

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 19
Metro Area Population: 3,871,323
Median Home Price: $675,237
Average Annual Salary: $68,460

The rainier weather in the Pacific Northwest leads to plenty of foliage in and around Seattle, but it doesn’t appear to make allergies particularly bad. Pollen levels in spring and fall are below the national average, making it the second-best place on the AAFA’s list for allergy sufferers. There were also 267 good air quality days in 2020, according to the EPA, though a maximum AQI score of 275 means residents can expect the occasional alert for very unhealthy conditions, and people should stay inside.

Learn more about Seattle.

3. Milwaukee

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 92
Metro Area Population: 1,575,223
Median Home Price: $242,067
Average Annual Salary: $52,450

Throughout 2020, the Milwaukee metro area experienced 253 good AQI days, meaning there were few pollutants in the air to pose a risk to just about anyone. Milwaukee also scores better than average for seasonal pollen and allergy medication use in AAFA’s 2021 Allergy Capitals report. Broken out into the spring and fall allergy seasons, Milwaukee residents suffering from pollen allergies can expect to fare a bit better in spring than fall, though both seasons are mild compared to many other parts of the U.S.

Learn more about Milwaukee.

2. Madison, Wisconsin

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 16
Metro Area Population: 653,725
Median Home Price: $348,940
Average Annual Salary: $54,300

The maximum AQI recorded in 2020 was 115, which is an unhealthy level for sensitive groups, such as those with lung disease, older adults and young children, according to the EPA. However, the number of days with low-risk AQI levels are far more likely in Madison, with 284 days scoring below 50 on the AQI scale. Pollen levels are better than average in both spring and fall in Madison as well, according to the AAFA report.

Learn more about Madison.

1. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 2
Metro Area Population: 1,959,006
Median Home Price: $329,709
Average Annual Salary: $56,887

The larger Raleigh and Durham metro area offers an atmosphere that’s better than average for those who suffer from allergies, but separate measurements by both AAFA and the EPA for the Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill metro areas show how a smaller area can vary in pollen and even air quality. The city of Durham ranks as the best place out of the 100 cities measured for people who suffer from allergies, and there were 331 good AQI days in 2020. If you prefer to live in Raleigh you’ll still be pretty pleased, with 286 good AQI days, according to the EPA.

Learn more about Raleigh and Durham.

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Allergy Sufferers Are:

— Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina.

— Madison, Wisconsin.

— Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

— Seattle.

— San Jose, California.

— Rochester, New York.

— Worcester, Massachusetts.

— Boston.

— Stockton, California.

— Salt Lake City.

— Baltimore.

— Melbourne, Florida.

— Lakeland, Florida.

— Colorado Springs, Colorado.

— Daytona Beach, Florida.

— Omaha, Nebraska.

— Nashville, Tennessee.

— Greensboro, North Carolina.

— San Francisco.

— Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

— Washington, D.C.

— Minneapolis-St. Paul.

— Tampa, Florida.

— Boise, Idaho.

— Des Moines, Iowa.

More from U.S. News

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The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Allergy Sufferers originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 09/23/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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