41. South Dakota
> Best city to live: Sioux Falls
> Population: 174,350
> Median home value: $173,400 (highest 25%)
> Poverty rate: 10.3%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.3%
Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s unemployment rate of 2.4% is less than half of the U.S. jobless rate of 4.9% and below South Dakota’s rate of 2.8%. The median household income in Sioux Falls of $56,867 a year is just ahead of the median household income in South Dakota of $54,467.
Even though the median household income is $1,000 lower than the U.S. median household income of $57,617, the cost of goods and services in the city are much lower than is typical nationwide, with 87 cents spent in the city equivalent to the average dollar spent nationwide. Adjusted for cost of living, Sioux Falls’ median household income is equivalent to $65,140.
> Best city to live: Franklin
> Population: 74,788
> Median home value: $391,000
> Poverty rate: 10.1%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 58.5%
A weak economy can undercut any number of advantages an American city might have. Conversely, a strong economy can create a virtuous cycle in a community. In Franklin, Tennessee, a city with only a 3.3% unemployment rate and an 8.4% uptick in total employment between 2014 and 2016 — more than double comparable U.S. employment growth rate — the economy is a boon.
A highly skilled workforce can be more resilient to economic slumps, and in Franklin, 58.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to only 31.3% of American adults. Better-educated populations also tend to be higher earning, and Franklin’s labor force is no exception. The typical area household earns $91,657 a year, or $43,000 more than the typical Tennessee household.
> Best city to live: Flower Mound
> Population: 73,289
> Median home value: $344,300 (highest 10%)
> Poverty rate: 4.7% (lowest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 61.3% (highest 10%)
The typical household in Flower Mound, Texas earns about $131,500 annually, the sixth most of any city. After adjusting for the area’s low cost of living, the median income in Flower Mound is the highest of any U.S. city. Just as a large share of area residents are wealthy, very few face serious financial hardship. Fewer than 5% of the city’s population lives in poverty — less than a third of the statewide poverty rate.
Largely financially secure, Flower Mound residents are also generally safe from the threat of violent crime. There were fewer than 50 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2016. In comparison, there were 434 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Texas and 386 incidents per 100,000 people in the United States.
> Best city to live: South Jordan
> Population: 69,034
> Median home value: $385,300
> Poverty rate: 4.1% (lowest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.1% (highest 25%)
South Jordan is the best city to live in Utah and one of the best in the country. Among the factors contributing to the high quality of life in South Jordan are the city’s low poverty and unemployment rates. Just 4.1% of residents live in poverty, and only 3.0% of the city’s labor force is unemployed, below the state’s 10.2% poverty rate and 3.4% unemployment rate.
South Jordan is also one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The working population increased by 10.5% between 2014 and 2016, the eighth most of any U.S. city. One factor fueling the city’s rapid growth is the continued construction of the planned community known as Daybreak, which could nearly double South Jordan’s housing stock once completed.
> Best city to live: Burlington
> Population: 42,556
> Median home value: $264,300
> Poverty rate: 25.1% (highest 25%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 50.9%
Burlington is the only city in Vermont considered for this list, but it still has compares favorably to much of the country in a number of social and economic measures. For instance, more than half of its adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, which helps insure higher incomes and can often lead to a greater sense of well-being. The high educational attainment has likely contributed to the city’s low unemployment rate of 2.6%, which is lower than Vermont’s 3.3% rate.
Burlington is one of the top cities in the United States for leisure. It is located in Chittenden County, which has the third most ski resorts per capita, the fourth most golf courses per capita, and the 10th most restaurants per capita.