Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Cedar Rapids City Hall, Iowa
Source: Thinkstock

45. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
> Population: 130,405
> Median home value: $135,100
> Poverty rate: 14.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.0%

Cedar Rapids is one of the most affordable cities in the country. The price of a typical Cedar Rapids home of $135,100 is worth just 2.6 times the annual income of a typical area household of $55,011. With housing prices nationwide costing 3.5 times the national annual median household income, Cedar Rapids homeowners effectively save one year’s salary buying a home, compared to the typical American property owner. On average, goods and services in Cedar Rapids cost 11% less than in the U.S. as a whole.

There is also no shortage of amenities and cultural venues to spend money on in Cedar Rapids. With the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the National Czech and Slovak Museum, and the African American Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids has a high concentration of museums. The city also has a relatively large number of bars and sports teams.

Bend, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

44. Bend, Oregon
> Population: 87,017
> Median home value: $331,300
> Poverty rate: 14.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 47.2%

Few U.S. cities have grown in recent years as rapidly as Bend, Oregon. The city’s population growth of 31.6% over the past decade far outpaced the national population growth rate of 11.5%. The local economy has handily accommodated the boom. Employment in Bend grew by 12.8% between 2013 and 2015, faster than in every other large U.S. city. The city’s 4.8% 2015 unemployment rate is slightly below both the respective state rate of 5.7%.

Bend has much to offer residents and visitors in the way of leisure activities and recreation. Residents of fewer than two dozen American cities have access to a greater concentration of golf courses, ski resorts, and fitness centers. Bend also has a relatively large share of restaurants and bars.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

43. South Jordan, Utah
> Population: 66,639
> Median home value: $354,000
> Poverty rate: 2.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 43.1%

South Jordan is one of the safest cities in the country. There were just 55 violent crimes per 100,000 South Jordan residents in 2015, much lower than the national violent crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans. Like most cities where crime is uncommon, relatively few residents in South Jordan are struggling to make ends meet. Just 2.1% of the population lives in poverty, a smaller share than nearly any other U.S. city.

South Jordan is expanding rapidly and continues to attract high-income residents. The median household income of nearly $100,000 a year is far higher than the nationwide median income of $55,775 a year. Likely attracting new residents is the city’s 4,100-acre planned community, Daybreak, which started construction in 2004 and is expected to have as many as 20,000 housing units by completion.

St. George Temple, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

42. St. George, Utah
> Population: 80,207
> Median home value: $229,400
> Poverty rate: 15.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.7%

St. George, Utah residents have a very high quality of life, at least in part because the city is relatively affordable. Goods and services are, on average, 4% less expensive in St. George than they are across the country. In addition, property tax rates are about half what they are on average nationwide.

City residents spend an average of only 15 minutes commuting to work, far less time than most American city dwellers. When they are not working, St. George residents can choose from a range of entertainment and cultural venues. City residents have easy access to a higher than average concentration of fitness and recreation centers, movie theatres, museums, and golf courses.

41. Edmond, Oklahoma
> Population: 90,090
> Median home value: $232,500
> Poverty rate: 9.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 52.5%

Over the last decade, Edmond’s population has expanded by 25.7%, far more rapidly than the typical population growth rate nationwide. Economic opportunity, a major reason many people move, likely explains the population boom in Edmond.

The typical area household earns $73,885 annually, about $25,000 more than the statewide median income. In addition to higher incomes, a dollar goes relatively far in Edmond as goods and services are roughly 17% cheaper in the city than they are on average across the country. The local public school system, two local hospitals, and the University of Central Oklahoma are major employers in the city. Only 2.8% of the city’s workforce is out of a job, one of the smallest annual jobless rates of any U.S. city.

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