The latest Emerging Housing Markets Index released by the Wall Street Journal and shows that smaller U.S. cities are most desirable for home buyers because of "affordability and appeal to remote workers," and the Magic City is on top of the latest rankings.

According to the latest index results that were published today (Tuesday 7/20), the "boomtown" of Billings is the new #1 ranked Emerging Housing Market in the U.S., followed by Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which dropped from the top spot.

To create the ranking, the WSJ - Emerging Housing Markets Index looks at "non-housing indicators to help identify places that are not only good places to invest, but also where you are likely to enjoy living."

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media
Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

The Wall Street Journal called Billings a "boomtown" in the latest rankings, and said cities where employment and wages grew had the most increase in their rank. According to the article, the WSJ / added a new criteria of real-estate taxes for this version of the index, which caused cities in the Northeast, Midwest, Texas and Alaska to fall in the latest survey.

The Top 10 cities in the latest Emerging Housing Markets Index were:

  1. Billings, Montana
  2. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
  3. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  4. Rapid City, South Dakota
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina
  6. Portland - South Portland, Maine
  7. Waco, Texas
  8. Johnson City, Tennessee
  9. Bangor, Maine
  10. Huntsville, Alabama

According to, Billings was ranked number 4 in their first ranking of Emerging Housing Markets that was released in the first quarter of 2021.

Here's the methodology used for the latest rankings by WSJ /

The ranking evaluates the 300 most populous core-based statistical areas, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, and defined by March 2020 delineation standards for eight indicators across two broad categories: real estate market (50%) and economic health & quality of life (50%).

For those of us who already call Billings home, you're probably noticing a huge influx of out-of-state license plates around our city. While most are likely just tourists visiting the area, as more positive news about Yellowstone County gets out to the world, expect more of these guests to stay permanently.

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