America's most and least popular cities (© ShutterStock)

Denver ranks No. 1 in a Pew Research Center poll on where Americans would most like to move.

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Those who have lost their jobs, defaulted on their mortgages or are simply searching for a change might want to consider Denver. The city — known for its skiing, culture and bustling singles scene — is where Americans would like to live the most, according to a recent survey conducted by Washington, D.C.-based group Pew Research Center.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Americans say they'll stay clear of Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Minn., and Kansas City, Mo.

Behind the numbers
In October, Pew — a nonpartisan research group, funded by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, that tracks social and demographic trends — conducted a nationwide telephone survey of 2,260 adults.

Researchers listed 30 of the country's largest metropolitan statistical areas and asked, "Would you want to live in this city or its surrounding metropolitan area or not want to live there?" Those surveyed reflect U.S. population in proportion in terms of age, sex and race, and many of the surveys were conducted on cell phones, not land lines, which means a larger swatch of respondents was reached.

While answers varied, one thing was certain: Geographical location and weather play a major role in where we want to settle down. The five top-ranked places were in either the West or South, while the five cities at the bottom of the list are all in the Midwest.

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"There is a reason the Sun Belt population continues to increase," says Paul Taylor, head of social and demographic trends and executive vice president at the Pew Research Center. "Weather did play a role in people's choices."

Sunny spots like San Diego and Tampa and Orlando, Fla., did so well because of near year-long mild temperatures (although we're betting few people surveyed took hurricane season into consideration). Indeed, overall perceived attitude of the city was the biggest factor, according to the Pew report: "Seven of the top 10 metropolitan areas are in the West, and the other three — San Antonio, Orlando and Tampa — are Southern cities that share the characteristics of many Western metro areas: warmer weather, a casual lifestyle and rapid growth."

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Up north, harsh winters helped Minneapolis to its dismal rank. Despite its fine cultural institutions — including Minnesota Public Radio — and financial dedication to the arts, 82% of those surveyed said that they wouldn't want to live there.

Of course, current economic conditions also play a role. It's no surprise that 90% of those surveyed don't want to live in Detroit, which ranked lowest out of 30 cities. It has a 9.5% unemployment rate and a murder rate 5.16 times higher than the national average.

But just because Americans are straining to pay their bills doesn't necessarily mean they overwhelmingly want to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Just more than half of those surveyed said that they're living in their ideal community, while 46% said that they would rather live in a different place.

Top 5 most popular cities

  1. Denver
  2. San Diego
  3. Seattle
  4. Orlando, Fla.
  5. Tampa, Fla.

Top 5 least popular cities

  1. Detroit
  2. Cleveland
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Kansas City, Mo.

Click here for more on America’s most and least popular cities on Forbes.com.

By Lauren Sherman, Forbes.com