Special Report

Best Cities to Live in Every State

Source: Dion Hinchcliffe / Flickr

46. Virginia
> Best city to live: Dale City
> Population: 72,073
> Median home value: $297,800 (highest 25%)
> Poverty rate: 5.7% (lowest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.8%

Dale City residents have relatively easy access to the entertainment and cultural amenities of nearby Washington D.C. Many likely work in high-paying jobs in and around the nation’s capital. The typical Dale City household earns about $95,600 a year, nearly $40,000 more than is typical nationwide and more than $27,000 above the state median income. Just as the area is home to a relatively large share of wealthy residents, very few in Dale City face serious financial hardship. Only 5.7% of the city’s population lives in poverty, nearly half of Virginia’s 11.0% poverty rate.

Housing in the Dale City area is more affordable than anywhere else in Virginia. The typical area home is worth about 3.1 times the city’s median household income, less than in any other major Virginia city.

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47. Washington
> Best city to live: Kirkland
> Population: 87,672
> Median home value: $582,100
> Poverty rate: 6.6% (lowest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 62.3%

Many may know the name Kirkland from wholesaler Costco’s store brand, Kirkland Signature. The company was indeed once headquartered there. Even without Costco’s headquarters, the Seattle region city is home to a number of high-paying companies. Google notably has an office in the city. The presence of Google and other companies has contributed to Kirkland’s very high household incomes. The typical household in Kirkland earns $114,000 annually, almost double the nationwide median household income.

As is often the case, a well-educated workforce in the city accompanies an economy that requires high-paying, professional jobs. Over 60% of Kirkland’s adults have a college degree, nearly double the national college attainment rate.

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48. West Virginia
> Best city to live: Huntington
> Population: 48,735
> Median home value: $92,300 (lowest 25%)
> Poverty rate: 30.8% (highest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.0%

Only two cities in West Virginia, Huntington and Charleston, are large enough to be considered in our ranking. Neither ranked particularly high among all U.S. cities, but Huntington fared slightly better in a number of key categories, including household income and lower unemployment.

Although it ranks as best city to live, Huntington’s violent crime rate of 778.7 incidents per 100,000 people is more than double the rate across West Virginia of 358.0 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Still, Huntington’s violent crime rate pales in comparison to Charleston’s rate of 1,551.7 violent crimes per 100,000 people, which makes Charleston one of the most dangerous places in the U.S.

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49. Wisconsin
> Best city to live: Waukesha
> Population: 72,358
> Median home value: $196,100 (lowest 10%)
> Poverty rate: 12.7%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.9%

The city of Waukesha in the Milwaukee metro area is the most liveable city in Wisconsin. Though the median household income in Waukesha of at $56,808 a year is nearly in line with the nation’s median income, poverty is slightly less common in the area. Only 12.7% of residents live below the poverty line, a lower rate than any other Wisconsin city. 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. Area residents have access to higher concentrations of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and movie theaters than is typical nationwide.

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50. Wyoming
> Best city to live: Casper
> Population: 59,397
> Median home value: $189,400 (highest 10%)
> Poverty rate: 10.7%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.9% (highest 25%)

People love to go out West for the fresh, clean air. And nowhere is the air cleaner than in Casper, Wyoming. The city’s air quality is considered hazardous only 0.4% of the year, the lowest rate of any city in the nation.

Casper is also one of the safest cities in the nation with a violent crime rate of just 114.1 incidents per 100,000 people, less than half of Wyoming’s violent crime rate of 244 incidents per 100,000 people.

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