Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

10. Layton, Utah

> Population: 72,223
> Median home value: $212,500
> Poverty rate: 6.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.9%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 296.3

Layton, nestled between Salt Lake City and Ogden, is America’s 10th best place to live. The typical household in Layton makes $65,504 annually, and a typical home costs $212,500 — about $10,000 cheaper than home prices in Utah. Layton’s job market is also quite healthy. The city’s 3.7% unemployment rate is one of the lowest of any city, and employment grew by 7.1% in the last two years — 5.3 percentage points ahead of the rest of the country. Layton residents have ample access to restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters, and one of the best hospitals nationwide. Davis Hospital has some of the fewest preventable hospitalizations and patient readmissions of any metropolitan hospital.

9. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

> Population: 78,759
> Median home value: $165,300
> Poverty rate: 14.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.7%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 292.0

Bethlehem’s population has spiked by 15.6% over the last 10 years, better than the national growth rate of 10.6%. Now home to roughly 79,000, the eastern Pennsylvania city is one of the most liveable in the United States. Every year, the roughly 5,000 students enrolled at Lehigh University return to Bethlehem, and as is the case with many other college towns, Bethlehem is affordable. The costs associated with healthcare, transportation, and utilities are all below the national average. The city, which formerly served as the headquarters for Bethlehem Steel, has an abundance of attractions and restaurants. The city has a significantly higher share of eateries, libraries, and museums than the nation as a whole.

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8. Waukesha, Wisconsin

> Population: 71,482
> Median home value: $182,300
> Poverty rate: 12.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.7%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 253.2

A suburb of Milwaukee, Waukesha is America’s eighth best place to live. Originally a spa town, people flocked to Waukesha in the late 19th century for its clean spring water and resorts. The Great Lakes city has a humid continental climate with mild summers and moderate rainfall. Today, people migrate to Waukesha — its population increased by 14.0% in the past decade, 3.4 percentage points ahead of the national growth rate — for its relatively cheap estate and low crime rates. Last year, Waukesha reported about 127 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, close to two-thirds fewer than the national violent crime rate.

7. Goodyear, Arizona

> Population: 75,676
> Median home value: $243,000
> Poverty rate: 12.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.8%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 211.4

The typical household in Goodyear earns roughly $70,000 annually, nearly $20,000 higher than the median household income across Arizona. Goodyear also has a lower poverty rate. While 18.2% of Arizona residents live in poverty, only 12.1% of Goodyear residents live in poverty. Goodyear is also a relatively safe place. With 132 incidences of violent crime per 100,000 residents annually, the city’s violent crime rate is less than half that of the state a whole.

In Goodyear, weather is usually favorable for outdoor activities. Average temperatures stay over 50 degrees in the winter months and hover just above 90 degrees through the summer. It is perhaps no coincidence that no other part of the country has a higher count of golf courses relative to the population.

6. Cary, North Carolina

> Population: 155,724
> Median home value: $298,800
> Poverty rate: 7.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 61.8%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 256.2

Cary is a wealthy suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital. Although the typical home in Cary costs $298,000 — $83,000 more than in Raleigh and almost twice the price of real estate in North Carolina as a whole — residents can afford it. The typical household in Cary makes $92,000 a year, almost twice the statewide median household income. Moreover, when adjusted for the city’s low cost of living, that figure increases by about $4,000.

Cary has one of the most educated populations nationwide — nearly 62% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The nearby Research Triangle Park (RTP), a corporate research center located between UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and NC State, employs much of Cary’s qualified workforce. Only 3.7% of the city’s workforce is unemployed. A bulk of Cary’s workforce works in or around RTP, and just 3.7% are unemployed, one of the lowest unemployment rates of any city. Cary is also one of the safest places in America. In the past decade, the city’s population grew 44.9%, one of the largest increases nationwide.

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