Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Lee’s Summit, Missouri
> Population: 95,068
> Median home value: $200,300
> Poverty rate: 6.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 46.6%

Residents in Lee’s Summit, Missouri reap the benefits of some of the best economic circumstances of any U.S. city. The Kansas City suburb’s unemployment rate of 3.8% is well below both the state and national rates. The city’s employment growth rate of 6.6% between 2013 and 2015 well outpaced the national 4.0% growth rate over the same time.

The presence of colleges and universities near a city can have wide-reaching positive effects on quality of life. In addition to providing education opportunities for residents, these institutions often attract other employers. There are 36 colleges and universities in the Lee’s Summit area, or 5.2 institutions for every 100,000 residents, one of the highest concentrations in the country.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. Johns Creek, Georgia
> Population: 83,339
> Median home value: $373,700
> Poverty rate: 4.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 65.6%

While many social and economic measures in Georgia are generally worse than in most states, Johns Creek residents earn high incomes while living in a low poverty area, have high levels of education, and can enjoy plenty of amenities. The median annual household income in Johns Creek, adjusted for the cost of living, is $115,402 a year, well more than double the state’s median income. Also, the poverty rate of 4.6% is considerably lower than the national poverty rate of 14.7% and the state rate of 17.0%.

Johns Creek residents also have access to a remarkable number of leisure venues, especially dining. There are around 320 eating locations per 100,000 city residents, one of the higher such concentrations in the nation.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Richardson, Texas
> Population: 110,827
> Median home value: $226,000
> Poverty rate: 9.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 53.2%

More than half of all adults in Richardson have at least a bachelor’s degree. With high educational attainment, incomes in the city are high and violent crime is scarce. The typical Richardson household earns $80,398 a year, and the city’s violent crime rate is less than half that of the state a whole. In many cities with higher incomes, the cost of living is also higher than normal. In Richardson, however, the cost of goods and services is roughly in line with the cost of living nationwide.

Located just outside of Dallas, Richardson residents benefit both from economic opportunities in the larger city, and the cultural amenities, without the higher violent and property crime rates.

Meridian, Idaho
Source: Thinkstock

2. Meridian, Idaho
> Population: 90,753
> Median home value: $213,100
> Poverty rate: 10.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.2%

Meridian is located just outside of Idaho’s capital city of Boise. The city is safe — Just over 100 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in Meridian last year, a fraction of the national violent crime rate of 373 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide.

The city’s annual unemployment rate is quite low, At just 3.5% compared to the national jobless rate of 5.3%. Moreover, jobs are being added to the local economy faster than in most of the United States. The number of jobs increased by nearly 10% from 2013 through the end of last year, much faster than the national jobs growth rate of 4.0% over that period. Prospective employment is frequently the first priority for Americans considering relocation. With the strong job market, Meridian’s population has been growing dramatically in recent years. The city’s population growth rate of over 20% over the five years through 2015 is more than five times the nation’s 5-year population growth rate of 3.9%.

Pumpkin patch, Broomfield, Colorado
Source: Thinkstock

1. Broomfield, Colorado
> Population: 65,065
> Median home value: $342,800
> Poverty rate: 4.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 56.1%

Broomfield, Colorado is 24/7 Wall St.’s best city to live in. Many of the nation’s top cities are relatively small, located just outside a major metropolitan area, and Broomfield is no different. With a population of just over 65,000, Broomfield barely made the population cutoff for consideration on this year’s list. The city is located in commuting distance of both Boulder and Denver.

Broomfield boasts several economic features that are likely quite attractive to families browsing for a new city. Less than 5% of city residents live in poverty, for example, a fraction of the national poverty rate of 14.7%. The health of a city’s job market is one of the most universal characteristics of a highly desirable city. Not only is Broomfield’s annual unemployment rate of 3.3.% is one of the lower rates of U.S. cities, but also the number of jobs in the city grew by 8.0% from 2013 through last year, double the comparable national growth rate. If education levels of a population are any indication of the quality of jobs in an area, then the jobs offered in Broomfield are high skilled and high paying. Well over half of adults in the city have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the higher college attainment rates of any U.S. city.

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