Special Report

America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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45. Bozeman, Montana
> Population: 43,132
> 5 yr. population change: +14.7%
> Median household income: $49,217
> Five-year unemployment rate: 3.8%

Bozeman’s population is on the rise, increasing by 14.7% in the last five years, compared to the U.S. population growth rate of 3.8% over the same period. Bozeman is the only city in the state where the population has increased by more than 10%. Population growth is often tied to job growth in an improving economy. And Bozeman’s employment increased by 21.7% over the same period.

For those who work in Bozeman, the average commute to work is one of the shortest in the country, and 14.2% of commuters bike or walk to work every day, compared to 3.3% of all American commuters.

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44. Monroe, Wisconsin
> Population: 10,688
> 5 yr. population change: -1.4%
> Median household income: $44,857
> Five-year unemployment rate: 1.9%

Monroe, which is known regionally as the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the U.S.A.” is a relatively small city of just over 10,000 people located in the southern part of Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois Border. Incomes in Monroe are not particularly high — the typical household income of $44,857 is well below the national figure of $57,652. Even adjusting for the relatively low cost of living in the city, the typical household income is worth less than the national figure. But very few people in the city are out of a job. Over the past five years, Monroe has had one of the lowest average unemployment rates in the country, at 1.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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43. Montgomery, Ohio
> Population: 10,587
> 5 yr. population change: +3.6%
> Median household income: $115,489
> Five-year unemployment rate: 1.7%

Montgomery, Ohio, is a relatively affordable place to live. Goods and services cost, on average, 15 cents less on the dollar compared to the national average. The typical household earns $115,489 a year, which is well above the national figure of $57,652. Accounting for the low cost of living, those high incomes are worth even more.

Montgomery residents are among the least likely in the country to live in poverty. Just 3.5% of the population lives in poverty, compared to a national poverty rate of 14.6%.

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42. North Canton, Ohio
> Population: 17,400
> 5 yr. population change: -0.1%
> Median household income: $57,003
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.2%

North Canton ranks among the best cities to live in part because of how affordable it is. In the Ohio city, goods and services cost about 14% less than they would, on average, nationwide. The city’s unemployment rate of 2.2% is nearly half of the nation’s jobless rate of 4.1%.

North Canton also ranks as one of the best cities because it is among the safest. The violent crime rate of just 69 incidents per 100,000 residents is a fraction of the U.S. crime rate of 383 per 100,000.

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41. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
> Population: 8,917
> 5 yr. population change: -2.6%
> Median household income: $51,332
> Five-year unemployment rate: 3.0%

Sturgeon Bay residents are less likely to face serious economic challenges than the typical American. The Wisconsin city has an unemployment rate of 3.0%, below the U.S. rate of 4.1%. It also has a poverty rate of 10.6%, 4 percentage points lower than the national poverty rate.

Sturgeon Bay also ranks among the safest places in the country. The violent crime rate of 68 incidents per 100,000 residents is a fraction of the U.S. rate. Residents also face relatively little property crime, at 1,059 incidents per 100,000 residents — well below the national rate of 2,362 per 100,000.