Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) / Wikimedia Commons

50. Williston, North Dakota
> Population: 23,902
> 5 yr. population change: +65.5% (top 10%)
> Median home value: $223,800 (top 20%)
> Median household income: $90,875

Williston, North Dakota, is a modern day boom town, one of many cities in the state rapidly transformed by oil extraction. People are flooding into Willison and other nearby towns at a high rate. Over the past five years, Williston’s population exploded by 65.5%.

Due in part to the oil boom, the city’s five-year average unemployment rate of just 2.2% is well below the average U.S. unemployment rate of 7.4% over the same time. Many of the jobs in the area are also high paying as Williston’s median household income of $90,875 is well above the $55,322 national median household income.

Source: Idawriter / Wikimedia Commons

49. Grove City, Pennsylvania
> Population: 8,170
> 5 yr. population change: -1.7% (bottom 20%)
> Median home value: $119,400
> Median household income: $44,310

Like many communities on this list, Grove City’s high quality of life is supported by a strong job market. Over the last five years, the city’s average unemployment stood at just 2.3%, less than a third of the comparable national unemployment rate. Among the area’s largest employers are a General Electric engine plant and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Grove City residents also have a wide range of entertainment options and cultural amenities. The population-adjusted concentration of venues like restaurants, movie theatres, libraries, and golf courses is far greater in Grove City than is typical nationwide.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

48. Snyder, Texas
> Population: 11,541
> 5 yr. population change: +4.4%
> Median home value: $87,500 (bottom 10%)
> Median household income: $50,325

Snyder, Texas, was originally known as “Hide Town” for its early buffalo-hide dwellings, and “Robber’s Roost” for the criminals that would often pass through it in the late 19th century. After the discovery of oil in the surrounding Scurry County in 1948, the town’s population peaked to roughly 16,000 before dropping to its current level.

Though Snyder residents do not have especially high incomes — the typical household earns $50,325 a year — the area’s poverty rate of 9.3% is lower than both national and state rates. The relative lack of financial hardship is due in large part to a low cost of living. Goods and services are 11% less expensive on Snyder than they are nationwide, on average.

Source: Scott A. Miller / Wikimedia Commons

47. Storm Lake, Iowa
> Population: 10,768
> 5 yr. population change: +3.2%
> Median home value: $111,700 (bottom 20%)
> Median household income: $43,226

Storm Lake, Iowa, is one of the least expensive places to live in the country. Most American homeowners spend more than $12,000 annually on housing. In Storm Lake, most pay less than $8,000 on housing each year.

Storm Lake the city occupies the northern shore of Storm Lake. Proximity to the lake provides residents with beach access for swimming, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities. The city also has a number of other outdoor amenities, including hiking and cross country ski trails, as well as campgrounds.

Source: Thinkstock

46. Bridgeport, West Virginia
> Population: 8,364
> 5 yr. population change: +3.9%
> Median home value: $199,000
> Median household income: $80,462

Bridgeport is the only West Virginia city to rank among the best places to live. In Bridgeport, 45.3% of adults have graduated from college, nearly the highest share of cities in the state. The high college attainment rate has likely contributed to the town’s relatively high median household income of $80,462 a year. Not only is Bridgeport wealthy, but it is also inexpensive. Goods and services are 15% less expensive than average in the city.

When it comes to culture and entertainment, Bridgeport residents have options. The city is home to a far higher concentration of restaurants, bars, recreation centers, golf courses, and movie theatres than is typical nationwide.

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