America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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Detailed Findings

For those familiar with some of the cities on this list, their ranking among the best places to live in the country may not come as a surprise. Generally, the places on this list have low violent and property crime rates. Even if not always affluent, they are usually affordable. They are also often steeped in history, culture, and opportunities for entertainment.

Residents of the cities on this list also often take an active interest in the quality of their community. In Mandan, North Dakota, for example, business leaders, elected officials, and ordinary citizens formed a committee to enact a comprehensive plan to improve the city 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.

Other cities on this list, like Trophy Club, Texas and Palos Verdes Estates, California are master-planned communities, purposefully designed and built to be ideal places to live.

A disproportionate share of cities on this list — 31 out of 50 — are located in the Midwest. Meanwhile, just three communities in the Northeast rank among the best cities to live. This is largely attributable to cost of living.

Only about 10% of towns and cities in the Midwest have a higher cost of living than the nationwide average. Conversely, in 78% of cities and towns in the Northeast, goods and services are more expensive on average than they are nationwide.

Many of the best cities to live in are suburbs of much larger cities. Jobs tend to be concentrated in major cities, which partially explains the low unemployment rates in many communities on this list. Several cities on this list are within commuting distance of major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C.