Do You Love Cheese? A New Survey Says You Might Want to Consider a Move to Illinois, California, New Jersey, or New York

LawnStarter based their rankings on four different key factors, including access, quality, affordability, and community.

Assorted cheeses on a wooden cutting Board. Camembert, brie, Parmesan and blue cheese with grapes and walnuts
Photo: Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images

Whether you prefer it smothered over pizza, sliced on a charcuterie board, or melted in a big bowl of macaroni, there's no denying that Americans love their cheese. According to new data from LawnStarter, where you live may influence how deep your love for the dairy product runs. To determine the best cities for cheese lovers, the company ranked 181 of the biggest U.S. cities from best to worst based on their overall scores. Each city racked up points based on several metrics, including access, quality, affordability, and community. The top spot went to Chicago, Illinois, which earned a total score of 50.91 out of a possible 100.

If Chicago isn't the city for you, LawnStarter says there are other great places for cheese lovers to call home. They rounded out the top five with Modesto, California (42.62 overall score, 5 for access, 2 for quality, 93 for affordability, and 36 for community), San Francisco, California (41.54 overall score, 2 for access, 25 for quality, 167 for affordability, and 3 for community), Jersey City, New Jersey (40.63 overall score, 3 for access, 25 for quality, 86 for affordability, and 2 for community), and New York, New York (40.31 overall score, 9 for access, 24 for quality, 156 for affordability, and one for community).

Unfortunately, there are some U.S. spots that true cheese lovers might want to avoid putting down roots in. The cities that LawnStarter gave the lowest scores to included: Lincoln, Nebraska (8.09 overall score, 143 for access, 25, for quality, 153 for affordability, and 163 for community), Oxnard, California (7.96 overall score, 174 for access, 25 for quality, 166 for affordability, and 79 for community), Amarillo, Texas (7.68 overall score, 159 for access, 25 for quality, 145 for affordability, and 180 for community), Anchorage, Alaska (6.85 overall score, 173 for access, 25 for quality, 162 for affordability, and 177 for community), and Salinas, California (2.79 overall score, 139 for access, 25 for quality, 181 for affordability, and 69 for community).

Each overall metric had its own sub-categories that each city was ranked for. When considering areas with the most cheese shops per square mile, which impacted the access metric, Boston, Massachusetts took the top spot; second place went to Paterson, New Jersey, while San Francisco, California, and Jersey City, New Jersey finished out the list. The city that scored the highest points at the latest U.S. cheese championship, which dictated the scores in the quality category, was Modesto, California; Chicago, Illinois, took second and Buffalo, New York, came in third.

And since the cost of food is on everyone's minds as of late, the affordability metric was another important part of each city's score; it was determined by the lowest average per-pound price for local cheese, in which Chesapeake, Virginia, came in at first place, followed by Gilbert, Arizona. Two spots in Florida—Hollywood and Cape Coral—took spots three and four. Finally, the most cheese-related events determined the community category, with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania coming in on top. Following Philadelphia was Newark, New Jersey, and Jersey City, New Jersey.

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