Special Report

Best Cities to Live in Every State

Source: Thinkstock

31. New Mexico
> Best city to live: Rio Rancho
> Population: 96,022
> Median home value: $178,100 (highest 25%)
> Poverty rate: 13.6%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 33.8% (highest 25%)

Crime can have an impact not just on the immediate victims, but also on entire neighborhoods by deterring business and contributing to greater stress levels among residents. New Mexico has one of the highest violent crime rates of U.S. states, with 703 incidents per 100,000 residents. Compared to the state, Rio Rancho is relatively safe. It has just 224 violent crimes per 100,000 people, the lowest rate in the state.

New Mexico also has a very high poverty rate at 19.8%. Rio Rancho’s poverty rate of 13.6% is well below the state rate and slightly below U.S. rate of 14.0%. The city’s median household income of $60,979 per year is also much higher than any other city in New Mexico. The city with the next highest median income is Santa Fe, where the typical household has an income of $51,347 a year. The median annual household income statewide is $46,748.

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32. New York
> Best city to live: New Rochelle
> Population: 79,558
> Median home value: $523,300
> Poverty rate: 12.5%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 45.6%

An estimated 19.4% of commuters in New Rochelle use public transportation, nearly four times the national average share. Many of those commuting from New Rochelle travel on the Metro-North Railroad to high-paying jobs in New York City. The typical New Rochelle household earns $75,757 a year, far more than the $62,909 the typical New York household earns a year.

In addition to providing access to the economic opportunities of a major metropolitan area, New Rochelle offers the quality of life of a wealthy suburb. The area has about one park and five golf courses per 100,000 residents, among the most of any city nationwide.

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock

33. North Carolina
> Best city to live: Raleigh
> Population: 458,862
> Median home value: $242,500
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (lowest 10%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 50.8% (highest 25%)

Raleigh is one of many fast-growing cities in North Carolina. Over the past 10 years, the population of Raleigh increased by 29.6%, the most of any city in the state other than neighboring Cary and far more than the 7.1% national population growth rate.

Raleigh is located in the southeastern corner of the Research Triangle, a prospering area with three leading research universities and many high-tech companies. North Carolina has one of the largest brain gains — more college graduates are staying in the state than leaving — in the country. This has contributed to higher educational attainment in cities across the state. In Raleigh, 50.8% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, far more than the 31.3% national share.

Source: Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons

34. North Dakota
> Best city to live: Bismarck
> Population: 68,780
> Median home value: $235,900 (highest 25%)
> Poverty rate: 7.7% (lowest 25%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.6%

North Dakota has some of the lowest poverty and unemployment rates in the nation. Just 3.2% of North Dakota’s labor force are unemployed and 10.7% live in poverty, compared to the national figures of 4.9% and 14.0%, respectively. Still, Bismarck’s population is even more likely to earn a steady income and earn above-poverty wages. Just 2.5% of Bismarck labor force are unemployed and only 7.7% live below the poverty line.

Bismarck has also enjoyed huge employment growth as of late. From 2014 to 2016, employment grew by 7.4% in the city, more than double the national average employment growth of 3.5%. The city’s cost of living is also one of the lowest in the country.

Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

35. Ohio
> Best city to live: Parma
> Population: 79,423
> Median home value: $108,100
> Poverty rate: 8.6% (lowest 25%)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.6%

In many of the best known cities in Ohio like Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati socioeconomic measures are below national averages. However, the city of Parma stands out as far and away the best city to live in Ohio. Parma’s poverty rate of 8.6% is far below all other qualifying cities in Ohio. The city with the next lowest poverty rate is Columbus at 21.0%.

Parma is also the safest city in Ohio by a large margin. While Ohio’s violent crime rate is 300 per 100,000 people, in Parma the rate is 136 violent crimes per 100,000 people. For some context, the next safest city in Ohio is Columbus, with 522 violent crimes per 100,000 people, nearly four times the rate in Parma. Despite these factors, people are flocking away from Parma. The city’s population dropped 8.4% from 2006 to 2016. That may be due to the fact that Parma’s poverty and unemployment rates are worse than the national poverty and unemployment rates of 14.0% and 4.9%, respectively.

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