Special Report

America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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35. Aberdeen, South Dakota
> Population: 27,925
> 5 yr. population change: +6.7%
> Median household income: $47,506
> Five-year unemployment rate: 1.6%

Though the median annual household income in Aberdeen is around $10,000 lower than the U.S. median, goods and services in the town are relatively inexpensive, at around 15% less than average. Accounting for the cost of living, the typical Aberdeen household has roughly as much purchasing power as the median U.S. household.

Aberdeen workers are among the least likely to be out of a job. The city’s unemployment rate of just 1.6% is less than half the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.1%.

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34. Sartell, Minnesota
> Population: 16,749
> 5 yr. population change: +7.7%
> Median household income: $74,391
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.0%

Sartell is a small city of about 17,000 in the St. Cloud, Minnesota, metro area. Sartell is a safe city. There were just 115 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the city in 2017, less than a third of the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000. A number of amenities — including 28 parks, two golf courses, and 48 miles of trail — also improve quality of life for city residents.

Like many of the best cities to live in, Sartell is growing rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living in the central Minnesota city increased by 7.7%, more than double the national population growth rate over the same period.

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33. Mammoth Lakes, California
> Population: 8,092
> 5 yr. population change: -1.1%
> Median household income: $62,308
> Five-year unemployment rate: 0.7%

Mammoth Lakes is a small town located in east-central California. Nearly everyone in the town who wants a job can find one as the unemployment rate is a staggeringly low 0.7%. Jobs in the area tend to be relatively well paying, too, as the typical area household earns $62,308 a year, about $5,000 more than the typical American household.

Getting around town is relatively easy, considering that the majority of commuters either walk, bike, or take public transit to work. Additionally, the average commute time for workers in the area is just 12 minutes, less than half the 26 minute average nationwide.

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32. Kirkland, Washington
> Population: 86,772
> 5 yr. population change: +76.8%
> Median household income: $104,319
> Five-year unemployment rate: 3.3%

Kirkland is a relatively wealthy city in the Seattle metro area. The typical Kirkland household earns $104,319 a year, well above the $57,652 median income nationwide. Additionally, Kirkland’s poverty rate of 6.5% is less than half the national poverty rate of 14.6%.

Kirkland appears to have a reliable and effective public transit system as over 9% of workers commute using public transit, nearly double the 5.1% national share. The area is also safe. There were just 84 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 city residents in 2017, a fraction of the 383 per 100,000 national violent crime rate. Kirkland also has a higher than typical concentration of restaurants, fitness and recreation centers, and parks.

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31. Staunton, Virginia
> Population: 24,273
> 5 yr. population change: +1.5%
> Median household income: $46,435
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.4%

Staunton, located in the northern part of the state, near the West Virginia border, ranks as the best city to live in Virginia and one of the best places to live in the country. The city has a below average poverty rate and an extremely low food insecurity among area families. Over the past five years, the unemployment rate has been about half the national unemployment figure.

The city also has a relatively high concentration of regional attractions nearby for a city of its size, including restaurants, theater companies, and museums.