Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

50. New Rochelle, New York
> Population: 79,558
> Median home value: $523,300 (top 10%)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 45.6% (top 25%)

New Rochelle is the only city in New York among the 50 best places to live in the United States. An estimated 19.4% of commuters in New Rochelle use public transportation, nearly four times the national 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 $57,617 the typical American 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 roughly one park and five golf courses per 100,000 residents, among the most of any city nationwide.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

49. Layton, Utah
> Population: 75,658
> Median home value: $235,000
> Poverty rate: 7.4% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.4%

Crime, poverty, and unemployment are less common in Layton than in the vast majority of U.S. cities. While nationwide there were 386 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Americans in 2016, in Layton there were just 156 incidents per 100,000 residents. Just 7.4% of Lawton residents live in poverty, and only 3.3% of the city’s workforce is unemployed, some of the lowest such figures in the country.

The wave of inbound migration to the city over the past five years is likely a reflection of its desirability. The population of Lawton increased 10.5% between 2011 and 2016, nearly three times the national rate.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

48. Appleton, Wisconsin
> Population: 75,465
> Median home value: $143,000
> Poverty rate: 13.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 32.8%

Appleton is home to far more schools and cultural amenities per capita than most city in the country. There are approximately seven colleges and universities — including Lawrence University — per 100,000 residents. Appleton also boasts well over two times the concentration of restaurants, bars, fitness and recreation centers, and movie theatres than is typical nationwide.

Appleton’s layout also allows many of its residents to walk to work. An estimated 4.5% of Appleton residents commute by walking, nearly double the national average. The average commute in Appleton lasts just 18 minutes, roughly 9 minutes less than the U.S. figure.

Source: An Errant Knight / Wikimedia Commons

47. Orem, Utah
> Population: 97,508
> Median home value: $238,700
> Poverty rate: 11.9% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.8%

Orem, Utah has less crime and lower unemployment than nearly any other U.S. city. In 2016, there were just 67 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents, far less than the national crime rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans. Just 11.9% of residents live in poverty, and only 3.1% of the workforce is unemployed — each among the smaller shares of any U.S. city.

Orem is also one of many fast-growing mid-size cities in the United States. The Orem population increased by 7.5% between 2011 and 2016, more than twice the national growth rate. Between 2014 and 2016, the city’s workforce increased 10.2%, the 10th most of any city. One factor fueling economic growth in Orem is the Silicon Slopes, a growing cluster of technology companies in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area.

Source: Jeremy Taylor / Wikimedia Commons

46. South Jordan, Utah
> Population: 69,034
> Median home value: $385,300 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 4.1% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.1%

South Jordan is the best city to live in Utah and one of the best in the country. Two 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, far less than the national 14.0% poverty rate and 4.9% unemployment rate.

South Jordan is also one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The working population increased 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.

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