Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Lawrence University, Appleton Wisconsin
Source: lawrence.edu

40. Appleton, Wisconsin
> Population: 75,255
> Median home value: $137,700
> Poverty rate: 13.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.6%

Though the median income in Appleton is slightly lower than it is in across the state of Wisconsin, the small city, just north of Lake Winnebago, has plenty to offer its 75,000 residents. A relatively safe place, Appleton’s violent crime rate is well below both the corresponding state and nationwide rates. Appleton’s economy is also relatively healthy as only 4.1% of the workforce is unemployed, a smaller share than in Wisconsin and the country.

Appleton residents have plenty of cultural and entertainment venues to choose from. The city has a higher concentration of bars, restaurants, and museums than all but a handful of other U.S. cities.

Hillsboro, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

39. Hillsboro, Oregon
> Population: 102,360
> Median home value: $276,600
> Poverty rate: 12.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 40.0%

Hillsboro’s unemployment rate of 4.6% is lower than both the 5.7% statewide and 5.3% national unemployment rates. One of the largest employers in the area is semiconductor manufacturer Intel, which recently expanded its Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro. The flourishing technology industry likely contributes to the high median household income in the city, which at $72,242 a year is among the highest in Oregon.

Located a short commute from Portland, Hillsboro residents can enjoy the amenities of a larger city without the higher real estate costs. The price of a typical Portland home is $348,300, approximately $72,000 more than the price of a typical Hillsboro home.

Cape Coral, Florida
Source: Thinkstock

38. Cape Coral, Florida
> Population: 175,230
> Median home value: $189,900
> Poverty rate: 14.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.9%

The Cape Coral population has grown by 30.4% over the past decade, nearly three times the pace of the national 10-year growth rate. Many of those flocking to Cape Coral likely moved for a job. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of jobs in the Cape Coral increased by 9.2%, more than in nearly every other U.S. city.

Those moving to Cape Coral may also be attracted by its numerous amenities. Cape Coral residents have access to a high concentration of golf courses and marinas. Known as the “Waterfront Wonderland,” Cape Coral has over 400 miles of canals, more than any other city in the world. A majority of the extensive canal system is navigable and provides seafaring residents access to a wealth of waterfront restaurants, bars, and shops.

New Rochelle, New York
Source: Wikimedia Commons

37. New Rochelle, New York
> Population: 79,838
> Median home value: $571,800
> Poverty rate: 11.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 45.6%

A 30 minute train ride from Manhattan, residents of New Rochelle can enjoy the countless attractions of New York City without the danger of living in a large metropolis. There were 586 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in New York City in 2015, while the violent crime rate in New Rochelle was just 213 incidents per 100,000 residents.

New Rochelle is economically diverse. While New Rochelle is home to some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, the city also has pockets of low-income households and considerable needs for affordable housing. Overall, the median household income in New Rochelle of $76,496 a year is higher than the $60,850 median annual household income statewide.

Franklin, Tennessee
Source: Thinkstock

36. Franklin, Tennessee
> Population: 72,635
> Median home value: $347,700
> Poverty rate: 8.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 57.7%

Franklin has long been one of the wealthiest cities in Tennessee. The typical household in the city earns $91,786 a year, nearly twice the $47,275 median annual household income statewide. A battleground during the Civil War, Franklin is home to a number of historic sites and museums. It also has a high concentration of other attractions, including restaurants and fitness centers.

Located a short distance from Nashville, most Franklin residents commute outside of the city for work. Franklin is also one of the fastest growing economies in Tennessee. The number of jobs in the city grew 4.9% between 2013 and 2015, outpacing all nearly every city in the state. The largest employers in the city are Community Health Systems and Nissan, both of which added jobs over the decade.

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