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Best Places to Live with Allergies 2021 — Durham, NC Tops the AAFA List

Watery eyes? Sneezing as soon as you set foot outside? Asthma acting up? It must be allergy season. Seasonal allergies can be a real pain, but the city you call home can actually make living with them a more bearable experience. So, to determine the best places to live with allergies, we turned to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

The annual AAFA report considers the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. and focuses on three important factors: seasonal pollen scores, over-the-counter allergy medication use and the number of local allergy specialists. Not only does this reveal the best places to live if you have allergies, but it also identifies the best places to live with asthma or sinus issues. The data also accounted for the differences in allergens that challenge us during spring and fall, as certain allergens peak at different times of the year — meaning symptoms may worsen during one season more so than another.

According to the AAFA, if you’re dealing with allergies or asthma, or are one of the millions of sinus sufferers, Durham, NC and Seattle, WA are the way to go, with breezy California spots dominating much of the list. 

Best Places to Live with Allergies 2021

CityOverall RankSpring RankFall Rank
Durham, NC111
Seattle, WA232
Provo, UT324
Salt Lake City, UT456
San Jose, CA565
Stockton, CA693
Milwaukee, WI7412
Portland, OR8127
Fresno, CA9810
Denver, CO101011
Sacramento, CA11168
San Diego, CA121114
San Francisco, CA13159
Madison, WI14716
Boise, ID151313
Ogden, UT161715
Colorado Springs, CO171918
Raleigh, NC182117
Cincinnati, OH191422
Minneapolis, MN201825

For allergy relief, go west. According to the AAFA report, 18 of the top 20 places for allergy sufferers are located in the west, midwest and southwest. However, the best place for people with allergies for two years in a row is Durham, NC. In fact, North Carolina is the only southeastern state with large cities that made the top 20 list of best places to live with allergies.

Seattle is the second-best option for allergy-sufferers who need their symptoms dampened. That’s because wetter and colder climates lead to less exposure to airborne allergens. Living in Utah’s Provo or Salt Lake City is also recommended if allergies make your life difficult.

However, a colder climate doesn’t necessarily mean a lower pollen count, and several California cities on the list account for that. Essentially, it looks like living in the west can help you keep allergies at bay, unlike in some south-central cities (such as Wichita, KS or McAllen, TX) or northeastern cities (like Scranton or Pittsburgh, PA or Richmond, VA), which are not so allergy-friendly, according to the AAFA.

Best Places to Live with Allergies

Best States for Allergies

Allergic rhinitis — better known as hay fever — is one of the most common conditions that cause symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy, runny or itchy nose, watery or itchy eyes, and itching of the roof of the mouth. Commonly occurring in spring, summer and early fall, the highest prevalence of hay fever is in the southeastern and southern states, per the AAFA. This highlights the fact that some states can be less challenging for allergy sufferers. Based on the AAFA data, the best states for people with allergies are:

  1. Utah
  2. California
  3. North Carolina
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Colorado

With three of its biggest cities making the top 10 — and two of them in the top 5 — Utah earns the title of best state for allergies. Here, cities like Provo, Salt Lake City and Ogden experience better-than-average pollen counts and are better suited for those prone to allergies.

Next up, although it might not be the first state that comes to mind when we think of low-pollen states, California dominated the top 20 with 6 allergy-friendly cities, 3 of which made the top 10. Specifically, cities like Stockton or San Jose show lower-than-average pollen counts despite sunshine all year round — a testament to salty air and coastal climates aiding in allergy relief and pollen sensitivity.

When it comes to allergy-friendly states, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Colorado are practically tied, with each contributing two cities to the top 20. However, North Carolina rises above as Durham leads the pack, while Milwaukee represents Wisconsin’s low-pollen city that made the top 10. Denver, CO, also managed to make the top 10 this year after being crowned the best place to live with allergies back in 2019.

Best Places to Live with Allergies 2021

How to Deal with Allergies

While symptoms vary depending on multiple factors, one thing is for sure: Allergies can be life-limiting. However, for those in need of some allergy relief, it’s good to know that allergies can often be managed with prevention. But, if you can’t just pack up and move to another city, the AAFA has some useful tips to make living with allergies more manageable:

  • Go outside on days with low pollen counts.
  • Keep windows closed and use asthma- and allergy-friendly filters on your air conditioner.
  • Wear sunglasses and cover your hair when outdoors.
  • Shower before going to bed.
  • Wash your clothes and dry them in a dryer or indoors after being outside.
  • Wipe off pets with a towel before letting them inside.
  • Remove shoes before entering your home.
  • Flush out inhaled pollen by using a nasal rinse.

With these tips in hand, seasonal allergy symptoms can be kept at bay — even if you don’t live in one of the best places for allergy, asthma and sinus sufferers.

If you’re looking for a new home for you and your allergies, don’t forget to check out thousands of verified rental listings on RentCafe.

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Alexandra Ciuntu
Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she's covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance to interior design tips. Very familiar with the renter lifestyle herself, Alexandra enjoys researching and writing about renter demographic shifts and residential real estate market trends as much as she loves writing about how to get along with roommates. You can connect with Alexandra via email. Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Forbes, Architectural Digest, Marketwatch, Bisnow, and Curbed. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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