RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh and Durham combine to be the second best place to live in the United States, according to the U.S. News & World Report.
Raleigh-Durham jumped nine spots from last year's rankings as the COVID-19 pandemic caused many Americans to re-evaluate where they want to live.
The U.S. News & World Report's ranking takes into account affordability, job prospects and desirability.
Due to the pandemic, destination cities saw big decreases due to higher unemployment numbers. For example, Honolulu fell 42 spots, Las Vegas dropped 50 spots and San Diego fell 52 spots.
Meanwhile, cities who have a higher percentage of jobs based around research, academia or engineering--like Raleigh-Durham--fared better.
For the second consecutive year, Boulder, Colorado, finished atop the rankings.
CNBC also ranked North Carolina as the second best state in the country for business.
That was in its annual Top States for Business report. The report said North Carolina has a strong economy and workforce. However, the state received low rankings for life, health and inclusion.
"North Carolina is a great place to live, raise a family and grow your business and this ranking is additional proof that we are roaring out of this pandemic even stronger than before," Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement.
And while the skyline has sure changed, the values that make the Triangle special have not.
"Durham is a close-knit community and I think everybody cares about things that matter, equal pay, equality," said Katie Westermann, Executive Director of Bull City Fair Trade. The non-profit connects with farmers and artisans from across the world ensuring they're paid a living wage.
It's been in Durham for nearly 30 years.
"The values of our store are what matters to Durham, and that's why we've been here for so long. And why I think they'll keep us here for even longer," Westermann said.
That Southern hospitality has been long-known but the Triangle's strong schools, eclectic food scene, vast cultural facilities, and of course - sports - have brought renewed attention.
"You know, it's the people," said John Pugh, owner of House of Swank. "The people make the opportunities, people make Raleigh is what it is."
"Folks that come in here in the shop are always surprised how cool the city is, how much is going on," he added.
All that positivity is playing a role in the ongoing Triangle Transformation - Tech stalwarts like Microsoft, Google, and Apple setting up and expanding, adding to the strength of RTP.
That's been a boon for Taylor Myers with Management Recruiters of Raleigh who says there's more big-time opportunities.
"You know it's really helpful," he said. "People that don't live here or have never lived here see rankings or listings like we just discussed and are interested or curious about the area."
Myers himself came to Raleigh 18 years ago to attend NC State and ended up staying -- path attractive to businesses looking for talent.
"The higher education piece. It's a very educated area, it's a very diverse area, it's a very young area. So it's really appealing," he said.
And while coming in second is nice, many think that's still selling us short.
"Oh it should have been number 1... but we've still got some time," Pugh said.
Things to address to get us that top spot range from affordable housing to public transportation.