20. Bath, Maine
> Population: 8,334
> 5 yr. population change: -3.6% (bottom 10%)
> Median home value: $164,600
> Median household income: $42,275
Bath is the only city in Maine and the broader New England region to rank among the best places to live. Bolstered largely by Bath Iron Works, a shipbuilding plant operated by defense giant General Dynamics, the city’s job market is relatively strong. Annual unemployment in the city, located near the mouth of the Kennebec River, stands at 3.2%, well below the 4.4% national rate. Many residents also benefit from the city’s walkability as more than one in 10 commuters in Bath walk to work, more than triple the comparable national share. The city is also relatively safe, and also has a high concentration of restaurants, fitness centers, museums, and libraries.
Despite its advantages, Bath is one of only a handful of cities on this list to be shrinking in size. Over the last five years, Bath’s population declined by 3.6%, even as the total U.S. population grew 3.9%.
19. Palos Verdes Estates, California
> Population: 13,582
> 5 yr. population change: +1.3%
> Median home value: $1,609,500 (top 10%)
> Median household income: $200,766 (top 10%)
Located along the Pacific Coast less than 30 miles from L.A., Palos Verdes Estates is the only California city to rank among the best places to live. One of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, the typical household earns over $200,000 a year, more than triple the national median household income of $55,322. Crime is virtually unheard of in Palos Verdes Estates as its violent crime rate of 22 incidents per 100,000 people is a small fraction of the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.
That the city ranks among the best to live in may not come as a surprise to those familiar with it, as it is a master-planned city, designed by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted — architect of New York City’s Central Park and the Stanford University campus.
18. Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
> Population: 14,088
> 5 yr. population change: +0.4%
> Median home value: $350,700 (top 20%)
> Median household income: $105,156 (top 10%)
Whitefish Bay, a Milwaukee suburb along the shore of Lake Michigan, is one of two Wisconsin cities to rank among the 50 best places to live. The high quality of life in Whitefish Bay is partially the result of a strong job market. The area’s average unemployment rate over the last five years stands at just 3.2% — less than half the comparable nationwide rate of of 7.4%.
Whitefish Bay is also one of the safest communities in the country with a violent crime rate of just 36 incidents per 100,000 people. For reference, there were 383 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide in 2017.
17. Trophy Club, Texas
> Population: 10,987
> 5 yr. population change: +35.0% (top 10%)
> Median home value: $328,800 (top 20%)
> Median household income: $133,457 (top 10%)
Incorporated in 1985, Trophy Club, Texas is one of the newer towns on this list. The first master planned community in Texas, the town was built around a country club, which was originally planned to house the trophies legendary professional golfer Ben Hogan won during his golfing career.
Trophy Club is one of the safest cities in the United States. The town’s violent crime rate of 15 incidents per 100,000 people is a fraction of the 383 per 100,000 national violent crime rate. Serious financial hardship is also uncommon in Trophy Club. Just 2.2% of town residents live below the poverty line, well below the 15.1% U.S. poverty rate.
16. Dickinson, North Dakota
> Population: 21,985
> 5 yr. population change: +25.3% (top 10%)
> Median home value: $224,800
> Median household income: $74,838
Like several other North Dakota cities on this list, Dickinson has been transformed by the recent oil boom. The city has experienced one of the larger population increases in recent years among American cities, as those seeking to work in oil fields flocked to Dickinson and other areas like it. In the last half decade, Dickinson’s population spiked by 25.3%. For reference, the U.S. population grew by just 3.9% over the same period.
The cost of living in Dickinson is about 12% lower than average nationwide, and residents tend to be relatively affluent. The city’s median household income of $74,838 is nearly $20,000 higher than that of the typical American household.