Grand Park Avenue at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda (file photo) Credit: Andrew Metcalf

North Bethesda outranked 10 other Montgomery County places on a list of the 100 best places to live in the U.S. produced by the real estate website Niche.

It came in at No. 18 on the list and was followed by Forest Glen at No. 24, Kemp Mill at No. 58, South Kensington at No. 63, Somerset at No. 71, North Potomac at No. 73, Chevy Chase Village at No. 75, Rockville at No. 85, Bethesda at No. 89, the Town of Chevy Chase at No. 92 and Chevy Chase at No. 99.

Montgomery County proved to be a force on the recently released list with more communities ranked than 48 states and all other counties except one—Fairfax County had 12 communities make the top 100. Overall, Virginia had 17 places on the list while Maryland had 12—Columbia was the only Maryland community outside of Montgomery County to make the top 100 at No. 26.

City and town rankings can provide good publicity for communities that make the cut, but the statistics behind many of them can be hard to verify and seem arbitrary. For example, are good schools more important than low crime? Is having a high average income more desirable than a diverse population? Is it better to have a short commute or little traffic?

To create their list Niche used an algorithm to weigh the statistics it deemed most important, including cost of living, education of residents, public school quality, strength of the real estate market and diversity of residents, according to the website. Niche reviewed statistics for more than 10,000 communities including major cities, towns and suburban areas to create the ranking.

“The data is pulled from publicly available government sources and then we use our own algorithm to analyze the date to refine and simplify it into a standard Z score across a range of factors,” Jessica Hair, a Niche spokeswoman, said Tuesday. The list was published over the summer.


The website used sources such as federal education data, census data and FBI crime statistics to rank communities.

It appears North Bethesda and Forest Glen outpaced communities such as Bethesda and Chevy Chase in the ranking because they received higher grades in the diversity category. However, all of the Montgomery County communities received similar grades in the categories of public schools (A-A+), education of residents (A-A+) and cost of living (C-). The New Mexico community of Los Alamos came in at No. 1 on the list and was followed by Superior, Colorado; Franklin Township, Iowa; Merrifield, Virginia and Rollingwood, Texas at No. 5.