Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: S.Anwer S.Razvi / Wikimedia Commons

40. Clifton, New Jersey
> Population: 85,847
> Median home value: $345,100 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 8.6% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.1%

Many of the best cities to live in the United States are relatively expensive. No exception, Clifton, New Jersey’s cost of living is about 28% higher than it is nationwide. However, expensive goods and services in the area are largely offset by high incomes. The typical area household earns $77,923 a year — about $20,300 more than the median income nationwide. As is the case in many of the most liveable American cities, serious financial hardship is relatively uncommon in Clifton. Only 8.6% of area residents live below the poverty line, below both the statewide poverty rate of 10.4% and the U.S. rate of 14.0%.

A part of the New York City metro area, Clifton residents have easy access to the cultural amenities of the country’s largest city, including easy access to transportation. The New York metro area boasts the most airports and the nation’s highest public transit usage rate.

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39. Palm Coast, Florida
> Population: 88,337
> Median home value: $198,700
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.8% (bottom 25%)

The typical household in Palm Coast, Florida earns $49,371 a year, considerably less than the typical American household income of $57,617 a year. Though incomes are lower on average in Palm Coast, a large share of the population appears to live relatively comfortably as comparatively few residents face serious financial hardship. Only 11.7% of Palm Coast residents live in poverty, below the statewide and nationwide poverty rates of 14.7% and 14.0%, respectively.

As is the case with many cities on this list, Palm Coast’s population is expanding rapidly. The city’s population grew by 23.7% in the last decade — more than triple U.S. population growth over the same period. New residents also appear to be fueling job growth. The area’s employment climbed 6.0% between 2014 and 2016, well above the 3.5% U.S. employment growth rate.

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38. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
> Population: 84,177
> Median home value: $437,000 (top 10%)
> Poverty rate: 4.2% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 57.9% (top 10%)

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is one of only seven large U.S. cities with a median income more than double that of its home state. One of the wealthiest cities in the country, Mount Pleasant’s median income of $101,015 is well above the median household income across South Carolina of $49,501 a year. The area’s affluence is underscored by the relative low poverty level. Only 4.2% of Mount Pleasant’s population lives below the poverty line, less than one-third of both the statewide and U.S. poverty rates.

The Mount Pleasant area is also rich in cultural amenities. The city boasts a higher concentration of museums, recreation centers, movie theatres, and nature parks than is typical nationwide. Residents also have easy access to jobs, culture, and entertainment in Charleston, South Carolina’s largest city.

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37. Beaverton, Oregon
> Population: 97,602
> Median home value: $363,100 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 9.6% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 44.8% (top 25%)

Beaverton, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area, is the best city in Oregon to live in. For those looking for job prospects, few cities are likely to offer more opportunities than Beaverton, which is a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Portland. Over the last two years, employment in Beaverton has increased by 8.3%, faster than in all but a few dozen other U.S. cities. The national job growth rate over the same period was 3.5%.

Living in one of the healthiest states, Beaverton’s population is one of the healthiest in the country. The city has one of the lowest rates of preventable hospitalizations in both the state and the country.

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36. Waukesha, Wisconsin
> Population: 72,358
> Median home value: $196,100
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.9%

The Milwaukee metro area city of Waukesha is the most liveable city in Wisconsin and one of the best cities in which to live in the United States. Area residents have access to higher concentrations of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and movie theatres than is typical nationwide.

Though the median household income in Waukesha of at $56,808 is roughly in line with that of the nation as whole, poverty is slightly less common in the area. Only 12.7% of residents live below the poverty line compared to 14.0% of Americans. The city is also relatively safe. There were only 127 violent crimes in Waukesha in 2016 for every 100,000 people, a third of the comparable U.S. crime rate.

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