Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: Thinkstock

25. Meridian, Idaho
> Population: 95,627
> Median home value: $236,200
> Poverty rate: 6.2% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.7%

Meridian, Idaho’s population increased by 24.6% over the last five years — faster than in all but a handful of other U.S. cities and many times faster than the U.S. population growth rate of 3.7% over the same period. The city’s strong economy does not likely hurt its appeal. For example, total employment in Meridian climbed 8.7% from 2014 through 2016, more than double the comparable job growth rate nationwide. As of 2016, only 3.3% of Meridian’s workforce were out of a job compared to the 3.8% statewide and 4.9% nationwide unemployment rates.

Rapid job growth and low unemployment are often characteristics of relatively safe places — and Meridian is no exception. The city’s violent crime rate of 109 incidents per 100,000 people is less than one third the statewide rate and less than a third the U.S. violent crime rate.

Source: melissamn / Shutterstock.com

24. Maple Grove, Minnesota
> Population: 69,569
> Median home value: $284,200
> Poverty rate: 2.0% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 54.3% (top 10%)

A wealthy suburb of Minneapolis, Maple Grove is one of the best places to live. The typical Maple Grove household earns $113,957 a year, far more than the national median household income of $57,617. The city is also home to numerous amenities. There are twice as many fitness and recreational sports centers and movie theaters per 100,000 residents compared to the national average.

While neighboring Minneapolis has nearly three times as many violent crimes per capita as the nation as a whole, Maple Grove is one of the safest places to live in the country. There were 63 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Maple Grove residents in 2016, far less than 386 incidents reported per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

Source: Nick Tre. Smith / Shutterstock.com

23. Olathe, Kansas
> Population: 135,474
> Median home value: $217,300
> Poverty rate: 5.6% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 49.6% (top 10%)

Poverty is quite low in Olathe, Kansas. Only 5.6% of city residents live below the poverty line, less than half the statewide poverty rate of 12.2%. The area’s relative financial security is due in part to a strong job market. Only 3.2% of Olathe’s workforce are out of a job, well below the 4.2% statewide unemployment rate and the 4.9% U.S. rate.

The city is also far more affordable than most. The typical home in Olathe costs only 2.6 times the area’s median household income. Nationwide, the typical home is worth 3.6 times the typical income.

Source: Thinkstock

22. The Villages, Florida
> Population: 71,350
> Median home value: $274,600
> Poverty rate: 5.8% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 40.4% (top 25%)

The Villages largely consists of the master-planned, age-restricted community by the same name. An estimated 91% of The Villages population is 60 years old and above, The Villages’ elderly population enjoys nearly the highest quality of life of any city. Although more than half the households subsist on retirement income, the typical household in the census-designated place earns $61,220 a year, or roughly $4,000 more than the national median household income. The community is also home to numerous amenities and has more than twice as many nature parks per capita as the U.S. as a whole and among the most golf courses per person of any city.

The nation’s elderly comprise the fastest growing age segment in the United States. From 2010 to 2016, the number of residents in The Villages rose by 76.9%, more than in nearly any other city in the country.

Source: Patrick Feller / Flickr

21. Atascocita, Texas
> Population: 72,763
> Median home value: $182,000
> Poverty rate: 4.2% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.6% (top 25%)

At only 4.2%, the poverty rate in Atascocita, Texas is one of the lowest of any U.S. city. Adults with a college education are less likely than those with lower educational attainment to live in poverty, and 39.6% of adult city residents have a four-year college degree, a far greater share than the 31.3% of American adults.

Well-educated and financially secure, Atascocita’s population also lives in an affordable city. The typical area home costs only 1.9 times the median household income in the area. Nationwide, the median home value is 3.6 times the median household income.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.