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

Keep your environmental allergies under control in these metro areas.

Many people are seeking ideal weather when they consider moving to a new part of the country, whether the ideal involves moderate temperatures, hot days or enough snow to regularly hit the slopes. 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 2022 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 2021 and the maximum Air Quality Index score in 2021 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. Orlando, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 118
Metro Population: 2,560,260
Median Home Price: $399,846
Average Annual Salary: $48,530

People looking to live in a sunny, warm place with plenty to do outdoors year-round will be happy to know that Orlando experiences average pollen levels throughout the year, and 302 days in 2021 had good air quality. Air quality is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index, which measures pollutants in the air and whether they pose a threat to the health of the population. In 2021, 302 out of 365 days were considered good — meaning the air posed little to no threat to anyone, including those with existing health problems such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes.

Learn more about Orlando.

24. Stockton, California

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 149
Metro Population: 751,615
Median Home Price: $547,954
Average Annual Salary: $53,000

Located inland from the San Francisco Bay Area, this Northern California metro area has mild allergy seasons. 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 178 out of 365 days with good AQI days in 2021, 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.

23. Jackson, Mississippi

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 121
Metro Population: 596,287
Median Home Price: $278,262
Average Annual Salary: $45,230

Pollen levels and allergy medication use fall in the average range in Jackson, and the city ranks No. 61 on the AAFA’s list of Allergy Capitals. However, pollutants in the air to cause further air-related health problems are at a minimum. The Jackson metro area experienced 260 good AQI days in 2021 and 105 moderate days, with a maximum AQI for the year of just 87.

Learn more about Jackson.

22. Boise, Idaho

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 730,483
Median Home Price: $221,475
Average Annual Salary: $49,010

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 in the best 20 places to be for lower-than-average pollen levels in both spring and fall and need for allergy medication during that time, with neither season experiencing significantly worse pollen levels than the other. In 2021, the Boise area had 201 good AQI days, according to the EPA.

Learn more about Boise.

21. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 574,691
Median Home Price: $298,830
Average Annual Salary: $52,700

Pennsylvania’s capital comes in at No. 21 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. In 2021, 243 days had a measured good AQI, while an additional 120 days had moderate air quality, meaning pollutants in the air could pose a moderate threat to very few people. Two days in 2021 had air quality considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Learn more about Harrisburg.

20. Sarasota, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 9
Metro Population: 821,613
Median Home Price: $387,630
Average Annual Salary: $48,180

Sarasota falls in the top 50 on the AAFA’s list for cities with high pollen counts and allergy medicine use, but its location on the Gulf Coast contributes to clear air. In 2021, Sarasota had 306 good AQI days and just 49 moderate days, with a median AQI for the year of just 39. Still, individuals with bad pollen allergies may experience tougher spring and fall blooms than other metro areas on this list.

Learn more about Sarasota.

19. Melbourne, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 20
Metro Population: 594,001
Median Home Price: $217,400
Average Annual Salary: $51,740

Along the Atlantic coast of Florida, the Melbourne metro area experienced 320 good air quality days in 2021 out of 365. On top of that, the maximum AQI score measured in 2021 was 82, 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.

18. Milwaukee

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 1,576,525
Median Home Price: $225,312
Average Annual Salary: $55,040

Throughout 2021, the Milwaukee metro area experienced 209 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 2022 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.

17. Providence, Rhode Island

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 105
Metro Population: 1,621,099
Median Home Price: $456,217
Average Annual Salary: $58,910

New England is known for its fall colors as leaves change when the weather turns colder, and those with seasonal pollen allergies will likely be able to enjoy the outdoors during fall as compared to spring in Providence, based on the AAFA’s findings. The Providence metro experienced four days considered unhealthy for sensitive groups in 2021, but 278 days were good air quality considered healthy for everyone, according to the EPA.

Learn more about Providence.

16. Baltimore

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 84
Metro Population: 2,800,427
Median Home Price: $352,379
Average Annual Salary: $62,510

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 2022, making it a good spot for low pollen. In 2021, there were 251 out of 365 good AQI days for the metro area, according to EPA data. The maximum AQI in 2021 was 140, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Learn more about Baltimore.

15. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 27
Metro Population: 3,605,450
Median Home Price: $237,367
Average Annual Salary: $62,560

The EPA reports that in 2021, 230 days had good scores on the Air Quality Index. However, three days were considered unhealthy for the general population, reaching a maximum AQI of 182. When it comes to pollen allergies, 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.

14. Spokane, Washington

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 98
Metro Population: 558,635
Median Home Price: $276,400
Average Annual Salary: $53,960

Located roughly 25 miles from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Spokane may be the best option for people seeking easy access to mountain trails while also needing a bit of relief from pollen and pollutants. Spokane’s pollen levels and allergy medication use are below average compared with the other 99 cities the AAFA considers in its report. Spokane experienced 10 days considered unhealthy for the population in 2021, according to the EPA, with an additional eight days considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The median AQI, however, was low at just 44 — healthy for the general population.

Learn more about Spokane.

13. Omaha, Nebraska

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 29
Metro Population: 940,163
Median Home Price: $330,044
Average Annual Salary: $53,050

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. Overall, the pollen levels in Omaha are in the average range, though the city is the 26th-best city for allergies on the AAFA list. The maximum AQI recorded in 2021 was 150, according to the EPA, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups, but well below higher levels in the U.S.

Learn more about Omaha.

12. Fort Myers, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 100
Metro Population: 756,570
Median Home Price: $405,336
Average Annual Salary: $47,340

Similar to Sarasota, the Fort Myers metro area’s overwhelmingly good air quality helps make up for the average use of allergy medicine and higher pollen counts. In 2021, the Fort Myers metro area experienced 332 good AQI days and just 33 moderate days, meaning very few people ever experienced any health issues due to pollutants in the air. Between spring and fall, allergy seasons are roughly the same for Cape Coral, a city within the Fort Myers metro area, according to the AAFA.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

11. Rochester, New York

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 42
Metro Population: 1,071,784
Median Home Price: $240,332
Average Annual Salary: $54,550

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 around the middle at No. 62. In addition, the upstate New York metro area saw 300 good air quality days in 2021, which helps to keep immunocompromised or asthmatic members of the population from having to stay inside.

Learn more about Rochester.

10. Boston

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 18
Metro Population: 4,854,808
Median Home Price: $713,792
Average Annual Salary: $73,850

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 2021, as many as 281 days ranked “good” on the Air Quality Index. With one day considered unhealthy for the population, the maximum AQI last year was 153.

Learn more about Boston.

9. Washington, D.C.

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 19
Metro Population: 6,250,309
Median Home Price: $535,038
Average Annual Salary: $77,210

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 better than average allergies compared with the rest of the country. Residents of the Washington area will appreciate the milder pollen levels in fall, for which the city ranks seventh for low pollen and allergy medicine use out of the 100 cities the AAFA considers. In 2021, 225 days of the year had good air quality and 130 days were moderate, according to EPA data.

Learn more about Washington.

8. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 106
Metro Population: 1,768,956
Median Home Price: $310,810
Average Annual Salary: $52,170

Virginia Beach’s pollen levels fall into the average range compared with the rest of the country, with fall and spring being roughly matched when it comes to pollen, allergy medicine use and number of allergy specialists in the area. Virginia’s maximum AQI in 2021 was 94, though the median AQI for the year was just 38 — the general population experiences healthy days most of the time.

Learn more about Virginia Beach.

7. Augusta, Georgia

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 76
Metro Population: 605,303
Median Home Price: $269,695
Average Annual Salary: $48,460

Ranking No. 76 on the overall Best Places to Live ranking, Augusta has pollen levels, allergy medication use and allergy specialist numbers falling in the average range compared with the rest of the U.S. This Georgia metro area’s air quality means the vast majority of days are safe for just about everyone outside. Only seven days in 2021 were measured as unhealthy for sensitive groups, and the median AQI was 44, according to EPA data.

Learn more about Augusta.

6. San Jose, California

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 5
Metro Population: 1,985,926
Median Home Price: $1,455,741
Average Annual Salary: $93,450

San Jose’s pollen levels are low compared with most of the U.S. in both fall and spring. Additionally, San Jose saw 221 good AQI days in 2021, according to the EPA. The metro area is not without at least a few days that could negatively impact some people — the maximum AQI in 2021 was 147, which is an unhealthy level for sensitive groups, meaning those with asthma, environmental allergies and other breathing issues could experience adverse effects of poor air quality on such a day.

Learn more about San Jose.

5. Madison, Wisconsin

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 17
Metro Population: 660,212
Median Home Price: $390,950
Average Annual Salary: $57,680

The maximum AQI recorded in 2021 was 101, 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 245 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.

4. San Francisco

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 10
Metro Population: 4,709,220
Median Home Price: $1,082,875
Average Annual Salary: $81,840

San Francisco has mild allergy seasons compared with the rest of the U.S., but fall sees especially little pollen activity and little need of allergy medicine among residents. In fall, the only city on the AAFA list to rank better than San Francisco as having low indicators of a bad allergy season is Seattle. In 2021, 212 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 for it — the median home price in San Francisco is over $1 million.

Learn more about San Francisco.

3. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 6
Metro Population: 1,999,253
Median Home Price: $436,760
Average Annual Salary: $59,174

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 in spring, and second-best overall, and there were 298 good AQI days in 2021. If you prefer to live in Raleigh, you’ll still be pretty pleased, with 259 good AQI days, according to the EPA.

Learn more about Raleigh and Durham.

2. Portland, Oregon

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 22
Metro Population: 2,472,774
Median Home Price: $601,399
Average Annual Salary: $61,860

The AAFA ranks Portland No. 96 out of 100 on the Allergy Capitals report, making it the fifth-best place on the list for lower pollen levels and necessary allergy medicine use. The EPA reports in 2021 that Portland had 293 good AQI days, and an additional 71 moderate days. There was a single standout day considered unhealthy for the general population, which had a measured AQI of 161.

Learn more about Portland.

1. Seattle

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 36
Metro Population: 3,928,498
Median Home Price: $736,721
Average Annual Salary: $74,330

The rainier weather in the Pacific Northwest leads to plenty of foliage in and around Seattle, but it doesn’t make allergies particularly bad. Pollen levels, allergy medicine use and the number of allergy specialists located in the area are all below the national average, making it the best place on the AAFA’s list for allergy sufferers. There were also 263 good air quality days in 2021, according to the EPA, though two unhealthy days for the general population and a maximum AQI score of 177 means residents can expect the occasional alert for very unhealthy conditions, when people should stay inside.

Learn more about Seattle.

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for allergy sufferers are:

— Seattle.

— Portland, Oregon.

— Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina.

— San Francisco.

— Madison, Wisconsin.

— San Jose, California.

— Augusta, Georgia.

— Virginia Beach, Virginia.

— Washington, D.C.

— Boston.

— Rochester, New York.

— Fort Myers, Florida.

— Omaha, Nebraska.

— Spokane, Washington.

— Minneapolis-St. Paul.

— Baltimore.

— Providence, Rhode Island.

— Milwaukee.

— Melbourne, Florida.

— Sarasota, Florida.

— Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

— Boise, Idaho.

— Jackson, Mississippi.

— Stockton, California.

— Orlando, Florida.

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

Update 07/28/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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