Special Report

America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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

30. Williston, North Dakota
> Population: 25,072
> 5 yr. population change: +61.2%
> Median household income: $91,359
> Five-year unemployment rate: 1.6%

Willison, North Dakota, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Over the last five years, the city’s population climbed by a staggering 61.2%. Fueled largely by natural gas drilling in the Bakken formation, the city also has a strong job market. Just 1.6% of the area’s labor force is unemployed, well below the comparable 4.1% national unemployment rate. Jobs in Williston also tend to be high paying as the typical area household earns over $91,000 a year, nearly $34,000 more than the typical American household.

Area residents also benefit from a greater concentration of bars, restaurants, recreation centers, golf courses, and movie theaters than typical.

Source: DelmasLehman / Getty Images

29. Lititz, Pennsylvania
> Population: 9,269
> 5 yr. population change: -1.0%
> Median household income: $58,375
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.5%

Lititz is a small town of less than 10,000 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by farmland, Lititz has a farmer’s market every Thursday evening from the spring through the fall. Residents also benefit from far greater than typical concentration of bars and restaurants.

Supported by a strong job market, city residents tend to be relatively financially secure. Fewer than 5% of area residents live below the poverty line, about one-third the 14.6% national poverty rate. The unemployment rate in the town is just 2.5%, well below the 4.1% national rate.

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

28. Solana Beach, California
> Population: 13,362
> 5 yr. population change: +3.3%
> Median household income: $103,864
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.4%

Solana Beach is a small coastal city in southern California. It is a wealthy area, with the typical Solana Beach household earns over $100,000 a year. Solana Beach is also safe. There were just 96 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2017, a fraction of the 383 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

As is the case in many communities on this list, city residents have easy access to jobs and cultural and entertainment attractions in a major metropolitan area. Solana Beach is just a 30 minute drive from downtown San Diego.

Source: TimTheBikeman / Getty Images

27. St. Marys, Ohio
> Population: 8,143
> 5 yr. population change: -1.2%
> Median household income: $48,661
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.0%

St. Marys is a historic Ohio city that boasts newly renovated walkways along the Erie and Miami Canal in addition to several parks. It is one of several Ohio cities to rank on this list. As in other high ranking Ohio cities, city residents benefit from a low cost of living. Goods and services in the area are about 8% less expensive than they are on average nationwide.

St. Marys is also a safe city. There were just 37 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the city in 2017, a fraction of the 383 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

Source: Iowahwyman / Wikimedia Commons

26. Johnston, Iowa
> Population: 20,172
> 5 yr. population change: +16.5%
> Median household income: $94,539
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.8%

Johnston is a small city about 10 miles north of downtown Des Moines. The city boasts a high concentration of attractions like bars, movie theatres, and golf courses, and it has a farmers market every Tuesday afternoon from spring through the fall. Johnston is a safe city with a violent crime rate of 147 incidents per 100,000 people, less than half the 383 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

Like many cities on this list, Johnston is growing rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living in the city increased by 16.5%, more than quadruple the 3.8% national population growth over the same period.