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Best Places to Live with Allergies [Ranked]

Suffering from chronic allergies means dealing with daily pain and discomfort due to your environment Wouldn’t it be great if you could live somewhere where you could breathe a little bit easier? Well, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently released a comprehensive report which ranks the best places to live for allergy sufferers. 

The best places to live in the United States for allergy sufferers are as follows:

  1. Denver. CO
  2. Provo, UT
  3. Boise, ID
  4. Portland, OR
  5. Colorado Springs, CO
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Raleigh, NC
  9. Spokane, WA
  10. San Jose, CA
  11. San Diego, CA
  12. San Francisco, CA
  13. Sarasota, FL
  14. Daytona Beach, FL
  15. Sacramento, CA
  16. Palm Bay, FL
  17. Washington, DC
  18. Boston, MA
  19. Milwaukee, WI
  20. Bakersfield, CA

One thing you’ll immediately notice about the above list is that a majority of cities are in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. These regions’ colder seasons means that they produce less pollen and the pollen stays in the air for shorter periods of time. Dry and high-altitude environments also mean that there are fewer plants and fungi, which creates less pollen and spores than in humid and wet environments.

Best Areas for Allergies by Region

It’s important to keep in mind that no place is safe from allergens. There’s a good chance that you’ll have some level of allergies regardless of where you are. Some of the proteins found in pollen are similar among plant families and are often highly cross-reactive. This means that you may develop an allergy to a new plant even after moving because it’s in the same plant family.

It’s prudent to get allergy tested so that you are aware of what triggers your allergies, as different regions of the country have different levels of allergens. For example, the Pacific Northwest has lower amounts of ragweed pollen but the same amount of grass and tree pollen.

West 

Tree pollen: March to May

Grass pollen: April to July

Ragweed: Early June to October

The western United States is the best place to live for allergy sufferers. Arid and mountainous regions prevent the proliferation of airborne allergens. Dust mites are also sparsely found in the West. You may want to consider moving to cities like Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Midwest 

Tree pollen: Mid-Spring

Grass pollen: Beginning of summer

Ragweed: Middle of August

Generally, the further north you go the better. Ragweed is found in the largest quantities here and will be your biggest enemy. Additionally, some of the crops planted in the Midwest may produce bothersome allergens. You’ll have the best shot in cities like Boise and Milwaukee.

South

Tree pollen: Early Spring

Grass pollen: Early May to Summer

Ragweed: Early September

The South is, unfortunately, the worst place to live for those who suffer from allergies. Its wet and humid climate creates long and hot spring months which allow tree pollen to easily spread and mold to grow. However, there are a few areas known to be less of a problem. Consider moving to Atlanta or Raleigh. 

Northeast 

Tree pollen: Middle of Spring

Grass pollen: Early June 

Ragweed: Middle of August

The northeast benefits from a colder climate which considerably mitigates their pollen season. However, climate change is creating hotter spring months in the Northeast and this is creating a worsening allergy problem in the area. Cities such as Washington DC and Boston would be your best bet.

Okay, but what about the best overall states for allergies? Here they are:

  • California
  • Utah
  • Florida
  • Colorado
  • Washington

Worst Cities for Allergies

If allergies are an issue for you, you might want to avoid the following cities:

  • McAllen, TX
  • Lousiville, KY
  • Jackson, MS
  • Memphis, TN
  • San Antonio, TX

One thing you’ll notice is that all of these cities are located in the South and are known for their hot and humid climates. Texas also appears most frequently in the above list due to the abnormal amount of dust in the air. 

Methodology

You might be wondering how these cities and states were even picked. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation looked at the top 100 metropolitan areas in the lower 48 states and looked at three factors: seasonal pollen score, allergy medication use, and the number of allergy specialists. These factors were not weighted equally and the composite score was used to rank each of the cities.

Mitigating Your Allergies

We’ve established that allergy sufferers will be impacted by allergies practically anywhere they go. However, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the potential impact of allergies on your life:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors
  • Put a filter on your air conditioning unit
  • Take a shower before bed in order to remove any residual pollen and other allergens
  • Change and wash your clothes upon entering your home if you spent time outdoors
  • Remove your shoes upon entering your home
  • Vacuum and clean floors frequently
  • Flush your nasal passages regularly to remove any allergens in your sinuses
  • Try over-the-counter medications.
  • Consider getting allergy shots (immunotherapy) so your body can better handle allergens

Ronald Van Tuyl, MD