Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

25. Kirkland, Washington

> Population: 85,778
> Median home value: $480,500
> Poverty rate: 6.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 59.5%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 417.4

Like a number of other best cities to live in, Kirkland’s waterfront scenery on Lake Washington likely improves the quality of life of area residents. According to the city’s website, the presence of companies such as Google, which has an office in the city, and Nintendo, which is also a major area employer, has helped stimulate the economy over the past decade. The well-educated population has likely contributed to economic growth, as companies profit from skilled workers, and residents with college degrees tend to earn higher incomes. Nearly 60% of adults in the area have at least a bachelor’s degree, close to double the national percentage.

ALSO READ: America’s Most and Least Educated States: A Survey of All 50

24. Plymouth, Minnesota

> Population: 75,065
> Median home value: $322,300
> Poverty rate: 8.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 59.1%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 133.2

Located less than 12 miles from Minneapolis, Plymouth’s 75,000 residents do not have to travel very far to access a major metro area. Median annual household income in Plymouth is about $20,000 higher than the corresponding statewide figure of $61,000. Another sign of a vibrant economy, only 3.3% of the city’s workforce is unemployed — a lower unemployment rate than in all but 10 cities in the country. Crime is also less prevalent in Plymouth. With an annualized rate of 72 incidences of violent crime per 100,000 residents, only 19 cities in the United States have a lower violent crime rate than Plymouth. Low violent crime and unemployment rates may be partially explained by exceptionally high educational attainment. Nearly 60% of adults in Plymouth have a bachelor’s degree, roughly double the national share.

23. Camarillo, California

> Population: 66,932
> Median home value: $507,700
> Poverty rate: 5.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 41.3%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 219.6

Located less than 10 miles from the coast of the Pacific Ocean, about 67,000 people live in Camarillo, California. Homes in the city are among the most expensive in the country. While the typical American home costs about $181,200, the median home value in Camarillo is just over half a million dollars. Housing, however, is one of the only uniquely expensive commodities in Camarillo. Utilities, healthcare, and groceries are all cheaper in the city than they are across the nation on average.

Weather in Camarillo is relatively mild year-round. Average temperatures range from 55 degrees in the winter months to 67 degrees in the summer. The city also receives very little rainfall. While the average rainfall across the nation is 2.8 inches monthly, Camarillo gets an average 0.6 inches every month.

22. Folsom, California

> Population: 75,366
> Median home value: $445,700
> Poverty rate: 5.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 46.2%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 252.1

Folsom, located about 20 miles east of Sacramento, is one of America’s best places to live. Americans who relocated in recent years may agree. The California city’s population growth rate of 22.7% over the decade ending with 2014 is about 12 percentage points higher than the national growth rate. Today, Folsom is home to roughly 75,000 people. The typical household in Folsom makes more than $100,000 annually, nearly twice the national median income. Even after income is adjusted for the high cost of living in Folsom, the adjusted $92,000 income is still among the highest in the country. Just 5.0% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line, less than one-third of the national poverty rate. Folsom residents enjoy central California’s mild, Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature of 47.6 degrees in the winter and 73.9 degrees in the summer months.

21. Clifton, New Jersey

> Population: 85,920
> Median home value: $322,900
> Poverty rate: 9.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.6%
> Amenities per 100,000 residents: 265.4

Over the 10 years through 2014, Clifton’s population spiked by over 18%. Poverty is relatively low in Clifton with 9% of residents living in poverty compared to a poverty rate of more than 11% across the state. Clifton is located just less than 20 miles away from the largest city in the United States. Due in part to Clifton’s proximity to New York City, residents have access to 11 area airports, more than in any other city in the country. Additionally, just over 15% of Clifton residents commute using public transportation, indicative of a relatively well-developed infrastructure.

While Clifton ranks among the most livable U.S. cities, the cost of living is high. Across the board, goods and services cost 28% more on average than they do across the United States.

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