Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Tyngsboro Bridge over the Merrimac River, Nashua, New Hampshire
Source: Thinkstock

25. Nashua, New Hampshire
> Population: 87,975
> Median home value: $245,200
> Poverty rate: 10.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.0%

Nashua is the most livable city in New Hampshire and the third most livable in New England. Situated in Hillsborough County near the Massachusetts state border, Nashua residents have access to a greater concentration of outdoor recreation venues such as golf courses, ski resorts, and nature parks than most Americans.

Like many cities in the region, Nashua is rarely affected by extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Dirt Path on a Fall Day, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

24. Waukesha, Wisconsin
> Population: 71,976
> Median home value: $197,900
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.9%

In general, Waukesha residents are doing well financially. While the cost of goods and services in the area is comparable with the average cost of living nationwide, the typical city household earns $60,734 annually, about $5,000 more than median household income nationwide. Poverty is also relatively uncommon in Waukesha, with 9.2% of city residents living in poverty compared to 14.7% of Americans nationwide.

Waukesha residents have access a number of recreational and leisure amenities nearby, including a high concentration of bars, movie theaters and golf courses. Also, Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, is only a short drive away. This gives Waukesha residents access to the cultural amenities of the larger city without having to face its higher crime rates on a daily basis.

Building and colorful trees in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Source: Thinkstock

23. Gaithersburg, Maryland
> Population: 67,445
> Median home value: $356,800
> Poverty rate: 8.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 52.4%

The concentration of restaurants in Gaithersburg is twice as high than it is nationwide, and the concentration of fitness and exercise centers is three times as high. While such venues for leisure are perhaps more accessible in Gaithersburg, they are also more expensive — as are housing and other costs. The typical household in the city earns $85,854 annually. Adjusted for the cost of living, which is 25% higher than the national average, household income falls to $68,848 a year – still considerably higher than the national median household income of $55,775 a year.

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

22. Virginia Beach, Virginia
> Population: 452,745
> Median home value: $262,900
> Poverty rate: 7.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 32.8%

Unlike most of the cities on this list, Virginia Beach is relatively large. Home to more than 450,000 residents, it is the largest city in the state. A coastal city in southern Virginia, Virginia Beach has plenty to offer for leisure and recreation. There are more than 4,000 acres of parks and refuges, a modern art museum, a performing arts venue, and an aquarium.

High incomes in the area offset a relatively high cost of living. The typical Virginia Beach household earns $67,281 a year, about $11,500 more than the typical American household and $1,000 more than the statewide median income.

Town of Newton, Massachusetts
Source: Thinkstock

21. Newton, Massachusetts
> Population: 88,809
> Median home value: $809,700
> Poverty rate: 4.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 76.6%

More than three-quarters of adults in Newton have at least a bachelor’s degree, high even compared with Massachusetts as a whole — the state’s over 40% college attainment rate is the highest of any state. A college degree is one of the surest paths to a high income, and Newton residents are some of the nation’s wealthiest. Even after adjusting for the city’s relatively high cost of living, the typical household earns $114,201 annually — eighth highest nationwide.

As is common in cities with high-income populations, Newton’s violent crime rate of 83 incidents per 100,000 residents is one of the lowest in the country. It is a fraction of the national violent crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 people.

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