Nearly 30 million Americans moved in the past year, and most of them did so to improve their standard of living in some way. People may choose to move to a more affordable area, where they can buy a bigger home. Or they may consider safety and crime, schools or the local job market. Where we live matters.
Of course, there are nearly 30,000 cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods in the United States, and while each has something to offer, only a handful stand out as exceptional, with a wide range of qualities that have almost universal appeal.
Using over two dozen metrics related to affordability, economy, standard of living and community, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 best cities to live in the United States. From those, 24/7 Wall St. picked the top city overall. In order to ensure geographic diversity, we only considered the highest-ranking city in each county. Data came from a number of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While household income was not itself a factor in the index, many of the cities and towns on this list are relatively wealthy. This is likely not a coincidence, as income is closely tied to several other measures used to create this list, including low crime, low unemployment and better health outcomes.
Population growth can be a sign that an area is attractive to new residents and families, and, not surprisingly, most cities on our list are home to more people today than five years ago. A little over half of the cities on the list reported greater population growth than the United States as a whole between 2013 and 2018. This is the fastest-growing place in every state.
Out of America’s 50 best cities to live in, Palo Alto, California, topped the list. It has a population of 66,573, which has risen nearly 1% over the past five years. The median household income is $158,271. The five-year average unemployment rate is 3.2%
Palo Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The city and the surrounding area are home to a high concentration of tech companies, including giants such as Facebook and Google, as well as startups. Jobs in the area tend to by high paying, as most households in the city earn over $158,000 a year, and about 40% of households earn over $200,000. In part because the area has become a tech industry hub, unemployment is low, averaging about 3.2% over the past five years. That is well below the comparable 5.3% national figure.
24/7 Wall St. methodology:
To identify the best cities to live in, 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 25 measures that fall into one of four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life and community.
In the affordability category, the ratio of the median home value to the median income (i.e., the housing affordability ratio) was given full weight. More affordable cities were ranked higher. Property taxes, which also affect housing affordability, are largely levied at the local level, and those cities where residents pay more in property taxes as a percentage of their home value were penalized. Property taxes were given a one-quarter weighting.