Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

50. Fargo, North Dakota

> Population: 116,572
> Median home value: $171,800
> Poverty rate: 14.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.3%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 206.7

Based on a range of social and economic factors, Fargo, North Dakota is the 50th best place to live in America. Like other North Dakota cities, many Americans have flocked to Fargo, hoping to land one of the many jobs created by the regional oil boom. Over the 10 years through 2014, the U.S. population grew by 10.6%. In Fargo, the population grew by 31.3% over that period, one of the fastest growth rates of any city nationwide. Fargo’s annual unemployment rate of 2.5% is lower even than the state’s jobless rate of 2.8%, which is the lowest of all states. While population growth and a healthy job market are testaments to the area’s livability, Fargo is not especially affordable. A typical household in the city earns roughly $46,000 annually. While this is lower than the state’s median household income, homes in Fargo are valued at $171,800, higher than the median home value statewide.

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49. Irving, Texas

> Population: 232,413
> Median home value: $146,500
> Poverty rate: 17.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 32.9%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 178.6

Located just outside of Dallas, Irving is one of the most livable cities in the United States. The city’s population has grown by roughly 13% over the past five years to its current size of slightly less than a quarter of a million people. The city has also undergone a recent economic boom. Employment grew by 5.9% between 2012 and 2014, significantly higher than the national growth rate of 1.8%. Also, with a violent crime rate of 221 incidents per 100,000 people, the city is significantly safer than the state as whole, where the rate is nearly double at about 406 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Las Colinas, a 12,000 acre master planned community located in Irving, serves as the site of over 2,000 businesses and has a host of amenities, including public parks, jogging trails and country clubs. Irving is also home to the global headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil and Fluor Corporation.

48. Fishers, Indiana

> Population: 84,967
> Median home value: $220,000
> Poverty rate: 3.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 62.5%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 314.2

Fishers, Indiana’s violent crime rate of only around 21 incidents a year per 100,000 residents is an exceptionally low rate, even among the country’s best places to live. By contrast, the national violent crime rate is around 366 incidents per 100,000 Americans. The typical home in the area is valued at $220,000, considerably more than the state’s median home value of $124,300. However, the city’s median home value is just 2.4 times greater than the median household income. Nationwide, homes are valued around 3.4 times more than the typical household income. Not only is the housing market particularly affordable, but also at $101,030, Fishers’ median annual household income, adjusted for cost of living, is one of the highest in the country. Fisher residents are also very well educated. More than 62% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, double the national college attainment rate.

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47. Eau Claire, Wisconsin

> Population: 68,207
> Median home value: $136,300
> Poverty rate: 17.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.0%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 324.0

Only 4.5% of the workforce in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is unemployed, one of the lowest rates among American cities. Of those commuting to work, the average travel time is less than 17 minutes, a significantly faster commute time than in most cities across the country.

Outside the professional realm, there is no shortage of local entertainment options for the 68,207 people who call Eau Claire home. The city has about 25 fitness and recreational sports centers, four libraries, and another four movie theatres per 100,000 people. Most impressive, however, are the number of options for those looking to grab a drink. With about 113 bars per 100,000 people, Eau Claire has more bars per capita than any other city in the United States.

46. Missouri City, Texas

> Population: 75,128
> Median home value: $153,400
> Poverty rate: 6.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 41.7%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 138.4

The typical household in Missouri City, Texas earns about $91,000 annually. Adjusting for the area’s exceptionally low cost of living, the true value of median household income in the city is about $95,675, higher than in all but 17 other cities in the United States. Relative prosperity in the city is further bolstered by a low poverty rate. Only 6.7% of Missouri City residents live in poverty, less than half the 15.5% national poverty rate.

While Missouri City does not have as many eateries, movie theatres, museums, and bars as many of the most livable cities in the country, residents still have easy access to entertainment. Missouri City is less than 20 miles from Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States.

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