America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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Source: Alon Eitan / Flickr

20. Woodbury, Minnesota
> Population: 68,824
> Median home value: $314,700 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 2.3% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 57.6% (top 10%)

Woodbury has less poverty and unemployment than nearly any other large U.S. city. Just 2.3% of city residents live in poverty, the second smallest share in the United States. The Woodbury unemployment rate of 3.0% is far lower than the national jobless rate of 4.9%.

Woodbury is also one of the most educated cities in the country. High schoolers in Woodbury test better than students in any other city in Minnesota, and 57.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree — far more than the 31.3% national rate.

Source: Adam Moss / Flickr

19. Lee’s Summit, Missouri
> Population: 95,782
> Median home value: $209,100
> Poverty rate: 7.1% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 44.8% (top 25%)

For many Americans, an ideal city is safe and affordable with a healthy job market. Lee’s Summit, Missouri is one such city. There were only 109 violent crimes in Lee’s Summit for every 100,000 residents in 2016, a fraction of the state and national violent crime rates last year. Low housing costs also leave area residents with more disposable income. The typical area home is worth only 2.5 times the city’s median household income. In comparison, the typical U.S. home is worth about 3.6 times the median income nationwide.

A weak job market can cripple any U.S. city. However, in Lee’s Summit, only 3.5% of the labor force is out of a job, well below the state and U.S. annual unemployment rates of 4.5% and 4.9%, respectively. Situated in the Kansas City metro area, Lee’s Summit residents have access to jobs in the largest city in the state.

Source: Bryan Adams / Flickr

18. Waldorf, Maryland
> Population: 75,448
> Median home value: $276,900
> Poverty rate: 8.2% (bottom 25%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.8%

Waldorf, Maryland is one of several Washington D.C. suburbs to rank among the best cities to live in. Not only do area residents have easy access to entertainment venues and cultural amenities in the nation’s capital, but also Waldorf itself has a greater concentration of restaurants and cafes than is typical nationwide.

Relatively few Waldorf residents are struggling financially. The typical area household earns about $96,900 a year. Additionally, only 8.2% of the local population lives below the poverty line, below the state and national poverty rates of 9.7% and 14.0%, respectively. High income areas like Waldorf are the reason Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country.

Source: Grand Warszawski / Shutterstock.com

17. Hoover, Alabama
> Population: 84,943
> Median home value: $278,600
> Poverty rate: 5.4% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 57.7% (top 10%)

The wealthiest city in Alabama, Hoover is one of the best places to live in the United States. The typical Hoover household earns $79,004 a year, far more than the $57,617 a year the typical American household earns and the 112th most of any city. Adjusted for the area’s low cost of living — goods and services cost 9 cents less on the dollar in Jefferson County than they do nationwide — household income in Hoover is higher than in all but 51 other cities. Just 5.4% of Hoover residents live in poverty, compared to 14.0% of Americans nationwide.

While population growth in nearby Birmingham has lagged far behind the national growth rate over the past decade, Hoover’s population has grown faster than most U.S. cities. The Hoover population rose 17.0% between 2007 and 2016, more than double the 7.1% national rate.

Source: Madison Berndt / Flickr

16. Frisco, Texas
> Population: 163,631
> Median home value: $369,900 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 4.3% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 65.9% (top 10%)

Frisco is a fast growing suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area and one of the best places to live in the country. Over the past 10 years, Frisco’s population has increased by 73%, the third fastest growth of any city. Frisco is also one of the wealthiest cities in the country and has one of the lowest costs of living. The typical household in Frisco earns $124,829 a year, more than twice the national median household income of $57,617. Adjusted for the area’s low cost of living — goods and services cost 6 cents less on the dollar in Collin County than they do nationwide — Frisco households earn more than any U.S. city other than neighboring Flower Mound.