Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

40. Port St. Lucie, Florida

> Population: 174,093
> Median home value: $146,200
> Poverty rate: 9.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.5%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 247.0

Located in South Florida along the Atlantic Ocean, few places in the country have attracted more new residents over the past 10 years than Port St. Lucie. Over the decade ending with 2014, the city’s population expanded by 42.1%. Though the median household income in Port St. Lucie of $47,129 is roughly inline with the income of a typical Florida household, the poverty rate in the city is much lower. Only 9.9% of Port St. Lucie residents live below the poverty line compared with the 16.5% of impoverished Floridians.

Port St. Lucie is also much safer than the state as a whole. Within the city, about 141 violent crimes are reported per 100,000 residents annually, a much lower rate than the roughly 541 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents across the entire state.

39. Palm Coast, Florida

> Population: 82,388
> Median home value: $159,300
> Poverty rate: 10.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.4%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 160.2

As one of the cities in Florida, which was one of the worst hit states during the housing crisis, Palm Coast was not spared the economic damage. To this day, there appear to be some lingering effects. Unlike the vast majority of the most livable cities, the annual unemployment rate of 7.4% in Palm Coast is higher than the state and national jobless rates of 6.3% and 6.2%, respectively. On the other hand, the area’s job market is growing. The number of jobs in the city grew by 5.0% from 2012 through 2014, considerably faster than the nationwide job growth rate of 1.8%. Despite the relatively high unemployment rate, the strong job growth is likely among the factors encouraging people to move to the area. Over the five years through last year, Palm Coast’s population grew by 14.8%, more than double the national growth rate.

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38. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

> Population: 77,787
> Median home value: $397,700
> Poverty rate: 6.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 56.7%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 252.0

The city of Mount Pleasant may live up to its namesake. Based on a range of social and economic measures, the city is one of the best places to live in the country. Area residents live a short drive from Charleston, South Carolina — itself a vibrant urban center and popular destination. In addition to the metropolis to the southwest of Mount Pleasant, Atlantic beaches span the eastern side of the city.

While South Carolina households are on the whole relatively poor, with an annual median income of $45,238, Mount Pleasant households are quite wealthy. The typical household in the city earns $82,358 annually. Also, just 6.2% of residents live in poverty — only about a third of the state’s poverty rate of 18.0% and considerably lower than the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

37. Boca Raton, Florida

> Population: 91,321
> Median home value: $370,100
> Poverty rate: 7.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 52.4%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 495.0

Boca Raton is one of five coastal Florida cities that are among the best places to live. The typical Boca Raton household makes $77,437 annually — more than 1.5 times the state’s median household income — and the median home value in the area is $370,100, which is almost 2.5 times the median home value statewide. A high cost of living, however, makes the real median income closer to $73,000.

The city is home to ample restaurants, libraries, theater companies, movie theaters, fitness centers, and golf courses, and a free bus service. There is about one golf course for every 1,000 people in the area, about 10 times the national average. The city’s affluent population is also well educated. More than half of Boca Raton’s adults have a bachelor’s degree, a significantly higher share than the 30.1% of American adults with similar educational attainment.

36. Gaithersburg, Maryland

> Population: 66,807
> Median home value: $380,700
> Poverty rate: 9.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 52.2%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 378.7

Located in the Washington D.C. metro area, Gaithersburg is one of the most liveable cities in the country. Likely due to its proximity to one of the country’s major urban centers, about 17% of Gaithersburg residents commute using public transportation. Only 4.4% of the Gaithersburg workforce is unemployed, much lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. The city’s relatively low unemployment rate may be partially explained by high educational attainment. More than half of all adults in Gaithersburg have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

While the median household income in the city of $79,988 is higher than the national median of $53,657, cost of living in Gaithersburg is also higher. Across the board, the cost of living in Gaithersburg is about 25% higher than it is on average in the rest of the country.

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