America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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10. Johns Creek, Georgia

> Median household income: $100,478
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 6.50%
> Median home value: $337,900
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 53.7
> Average commuter travel time: 30.3 minutes

Johns Creek residents are substantially better off than most Americans, with the median city household making more than $100,000. By comparison, the typical American household earned $51,371 in 2012, while the median household income in Georgia was just over $47,000. Area homes are also among the most costly in the country. The median home value was $337,900.

While Johns Creek is one of just a few cities reviewed without a single college, area adults are very well educated. Nearly 65% had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2012, one of the highest attainment rates nationwide. One of the few downsides to living in the city is commuting. The average commute time for residents was over half an hour, more than in most cities.

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9. Flower Mound, Texas

> Median household income: $113,683
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 5.30%
> Median home value: $277,900
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 30.9
> Average commuter travel time: 25.9 minutes

Flower Mound is among the smaller cities reviewed, with just over 68,000 residents as of 2012. Demand for homes in the area has grown dramatically in recent years, as evidenced by home prices rising 8.5% between 2010 and 2012, among the largest increases. Violent crimes are also extremely rare in the town. There were just over 30 incidents per 100,000 people in 2013, lower than in all but two other cities reviewed.

Residents are among the wealthiest in America, with a typical household earning $113,683 in 2012. Residents are well educated, and students performed above average on standardized tests. Residents can also enjoy over 2,800 restaurants and 14 museums in Tarrant County, as well as Dallas Cowboys football games in nearby Arlington.

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8. Cary, North Carolina

> Median household income: $86,151
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 4.80%
> Median home value: $298,200
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 81.6
> Average commuter travel time: 22.1 minutes

A typical home in Cary is worth nearly $300,000, roughly double the statewide median home value. While Cary’s real estate market is relatively expensive, taxes are quite low, equal to less than 1% of typical home values.

Nearby Raleigh, which is much larger, tends to be a more popular destination among state residents. Downtown Cary, however, is developing rapidly. In recent years, Cary has attracted high numbers of new businesses and young entrepreneurs. With the unemployment rate at less than 5% last year, the local economy seems to be doing well. According to IHS Global Insight, the Raleigh-Cary metro area is expected to be among the fastest-growing economies in the U.S.

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7. Troy, Michigan

> Median household income: $81,800
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 7.00%
> Median home value: $203,400
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 73.6
> Average commuter travel time: 23.5 minutes

Like most of the best cities to live, Troy has very well educated residents. A majority of adults had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, versus a national rate of less than 30%. And while Michigan students performed below the U.S. average on standardized tests, Troy students scored far higher in math, language arts, and science than those outside the city.

Last month, Troy Mayor Dane Slater declared a state of emergency in response to flooding, making more resources available to disaster victims. The local community seems well equipped to control the damage and assist those in need. For example, Oakland County recently formed multi-agency resource centers to more efficiently handle the relief process.

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6. Irvine, California

> Median household income: $96,278
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 4.70%
> Median home value: $630,400
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 50.6
> Average commuter travel time: 25.9 minutes

With excellent schools and exceptionally low crime rates, Irvine is a very attractive place. Irvine students performed better than the vast majority of California secondary school children in math, language arts, and science standardized tests. And there were just 50.6 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, one of the lowest rates among cities nationwide.

A typical home in Irvine was valued at more than $630,000, among the higher median home values in the country, and considerably higher than the nearly $350,000 value of a typical California home. The city’s population is also quite wealthy, with a median household income of more than $96,000 in 2012. Orange County real estate has some of the least affordable housing. County residents had to spend 42% of the median income to afford payments on a typical home in the area as of last year.

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