America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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5. Winnetka, Illinois
> Population: 12,437
> 5 yr. population change: +2.3%
> Median home value: $989,600 (top 10%)
> Median household income: $207,857 (top 10%)

Winnetka is a small village that sits on the shores of Lake Michigan about 15 miles north of downtown Chicago. By far the wealthiest city in the state, the typical Winnetka household earns $207,857 a year. Winnetka residents working in Chicago have options when it comes to transit, as over one-quarter of commuters use public transportation — an alternative most Americans do not have.

In the village, downtown shops were described by the Chicago Tribune in 2012 as reminiscent of the Hamptons on Long Island in New York, without the celebrities. Winnetka boasts four beaches, a boat launch, several parks, a tennis club, golf course, ice rink, and forest preserve areas, all open to the public.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

4. Dumas, Texas
> Population: 14,963
> 5 yr. population change: +4.2%
> Median home value: $106,800 (bottom 20%)
> Median household income: $50,773

Located about 50 miles north of Amarillo in northern Texas, Dumas ranks among the best cities to live in largely due to its affordability. Goods and services in the city are about 12% less expensive than they are nationwide on average. Housing is particularly cheap. The typical area homeowner spends just $704 a month on housing compared to an average monthly cost of over $1,000 nationwide.

The city also has fewer crimes, a lower jobless rate, and a greater concentration of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and museums than the United States as a whole.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

3. Perryton, Texas
> Population: 9,343
> 5 yr. population change: +3.9%
> Median home value: $88,400 (bottom 10%)
> Median household income: $46,535

Perryton, Texas, is one of the least expensive cities in the United States. The typical area homeowner spends just $627 per month on housing, while the typical American homeowner spends over $1,000. Overall, goods and services are 13% less expensive in Perryton than average nationwide.

The north Texas city is an oil town, benefiting economically from nearby oil drilling in the mid-20th century. In the last five years, unemployment in Perrytown has been lower than the national average.

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2. Mandan, North Dakota
> Population: 20,613
> 5 yr. population change: +14.2% (top 10%)
> Median home value: $175,400
> Median household income: $60,034

Of the four cities in North Dakota to make this list, Mandan ranks the highest. Mandan residents benefit from a low cost of living — 13% lower than average nationwide — a five-year average unemployment rate of 2.0%, and a violent crime rate that is less than half the national rate. Mandan residents also have access to jobs, entertainment, and cultural attractions in Bismarck, the state capital located on the opposite side the Missouri River.

Recently, business leaders, elected officials, and ordinary citizens established a committee to form a comprehensive plan to improve Mandan over the coming decade. The committee’s accomplishments include broadened business support and incentives, the creation of annual festivals and events, public education improvements, and increased communication regarding local elections.

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1. West University Place, Texas
> Population: 15,318
> 5 yr. population change: +4.0%
> Median home value: $917,800 (top 10%)
> Median household income: $220,868 (top 10%)

A wealthy suburb of Houston, West University Place ranks as the best city to live in both Texas and the United States. A wealthy city, the median household income in West University Place of nearly $221,000 a year is nearly four times the income the typical American household earns. A dollar also goes far in the city as goods and services are about 5% less expensive than they are nationwide on average. In addition to entertainment and culture in nearby Houston, West University has a far greater concentration of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, museums and theatre companies than is typical nationwide.

West University is also a safe city with a strong job market. The city’s violent crime rate of 64 incidents for every 100,000 people is among the lowest in the nation, as is the city’s five-year average unemployment rate of 2.7%.