Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: Thinkstock

15. Arlington, Virginia
> Population: 230,050
> Median home value: $678,100 (top 10%)
> Poverty rate: 8.1% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 74.3% (top 10%)

The Washington D.C. suburb of Arlington is one of the wealthiest and best educated neighborhoods in the United States. The typical area household earns about $110,400 a year, more than enough to compensate for the area’s relatively high cost of living. Arlington is also one of the most educated cities in the country. High schoolers in Arlington test better than students in any city in Virginia other than Chesapeake and Centreville, and 74.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, 31.3% of U.S. adults have completed four years of college.

The area’s hospitals also report some of the best outcomes in the United States. Combined, Arlington County’s two hospitals have lower mortality and readmission rates than the U.S. as a whole. Preventable hospitalizations in the area are about half as common as they are nationwide.

Source: 3000ad / Thinkstock

14. Rochester Hills, Michigan
> Population: 73,418
> Median home value: $294,200
> Poverty rate: 6.0% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 57.3% (top 10%)

One of the largest indicators of quality of life is education. High school students in Rochester Hills test better than students in any city in MIchigan other than Troy or Ann Arbor, and 57.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree — far more than the 31.3% of adults nationwide.

Rochester HIlls is also largely devoid of the violent crime that plagues much of the Detroit metro area. There were 72 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in 2016, a fraction of the national violent crime rate of 386 incidents reported per 100,000 Americans. While in neighboring Detroit crime and economic decline have reduced the value of a typical home from $91,700 in 2006 to $43,500 today, homes in Rochester Hills have continued to appreciate. The typical home in the city is worth $294,200 today, an increase of $15,000 from 10 years ago and roughly $90,000 more than the U.S. median home value.

Source: David Koontz / Flickr

13. Flower Mound, Texas
> Population: 73,289
> Median home value: $344,300 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 4.7% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 61.3% (top 10%)

The typical household in Flower Mound, Texas earns about $131,500 annually, the sixth most of any city. After adjusting for the area’s low cost of living, the median income in Flower Mound is the highest of any U.S. city. Just as a large share of area residents are wealthy, very few face serious financial hardship. Fewer than 5% of the city’s population lives in poverty — less than a third of the statewide poverty rate.

Largely financially secure, Flower Mound residents are also generally safe from the threat of violent crime. There were fewer than 50 violent crimes for every 100,000 Flower Mound residents in 2016. In comparison, there were 434 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Texas and 386 per 100,000 people in the United States.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Gilbert, Arizona
> Population: 237,120
> Median home value: $307,000 (top 25%)
> Poverty rate: 5.0% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 45.4% (top 25%)

Gilbert is a town roughly 20 miles southeast of Phoenix, the largest city in Arizona. Many Gilbert residents hold advanced, high-paying jobs in Phoenix. The typical household in the town earns $91,576 a year, far more than the national median household income of $57,617. Commuters living in northern Gilbert might have access to additional transit options as soon as 2019, when the Valley Metro Rail completes the extension of its light rail service to an intersection just north of the city.

Like many of the best cities to live in, Gilbert’s population has grown at a rapid pace in recent years. Since 2011, the population has increased 11.9%, more than three times the 3.7% increase nationwide.

Source: randy andy / Shutterstock.com

11. Mission Viejo, California
> Population: 96,386
> Median home value: $667,100 (top 10%)
> Poverty rate: 4.7% (bottom 10%)
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 49.7% (top 10%)

Many Americans consider Southern California paradise. The average annual rainfall in Mission Viejo is less than 9 inches — a fraction of the national average of 37 inches of rain annually. Area residents are also largely untouched by the effects of neighborhood crime. There were only 78 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2016, far fewer than the 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

Living in Mission Viejo is not cheap, however. Goods and services in the city are 29.3% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Still, the typical area household earns about $111,500 a year, more than enough to compensate for the higher living expenses.

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.