Special Report

America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

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20. Jasper, Indiana
> Population: 15,716
> 5 yr. population change: +4.9%
> Median household income: $55,878
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.6%

Jasper is one of the most affordable places to live in the nation. The cost of goods and services is just 83.6% of the average cost nationwide. The low cost of living gives residents a relatively high amount of purchasing power, even though the median household income in Jasper of $55,878 is lower than the U.S. median.

Jasper residents are much less likely to struggle with money than the average American. Nationwide, 14.6% of U.S. residents live in poverty. In Jasper, the poverty rate is 11.0%.

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19. New Albany, Ohio
> Population: 10,253
> 5 yr. population change: +28.2%
> Median household income: $187,200
> Five-year unemployment rate: 3.0%

New Albany, Ohio, is one of the most affluent cities in the country. The median annual household income of $187,200 is one of the five highest of U.S. cities. Wealthier areas tend to have a number of advantages over low-income cities, including lower crime rates. There were less than 37 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in New Albany, less than a 10th of the nationwide crime rate.

There are a number of factors that can draw people to certain towns, including jobs, schools, and amenities. New Albany ranks highly in many of these aspects, and its population growth rate reflects that. The town’s population grew by more than 28% over the past five years, compared to the national growth rate of just 3.8%.

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18. Cody, Wyoming
> Population: 9,826
> 5 yr. population change: +3.1%
> Median household income: $56,356
> Five-year unemployment rate: 1.0%

Cody is one of two Wyoming cities to rank among the best places to live in America, and its residents are among the least likely to face serious financial hardship. The city’s poverty rate of just 7.7% is well below the U.S. poverty rate of 14.6%.

One of the driving factors behind the low poverty rate is the city’s low unemployment rate. Just 1.0% of Cody’s labor force is unemployed, less than a quarter of the national unemployment rate.

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17. Carmel, Indiana
> Population: 88,595
> 5 yr. population change: +10.7%
> Median household income: $109,201
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.1%

People with a college degree tend to have higher incomes and better health outcomes than those without a degree. In Carmel, Indiana, 71.0% of adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree. Nationwide, the college degree attainment rate is 30.9%.

With such a high educational attainment rate, Carmel adults are more likely to be qualified for high-income jobs. This is likely why the city has a six-figure median household income, one of the highest in the country. Carmel also has a 3.7% poverty rate, a fraction of the 14.6% U.S. rate.

Source: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ M.D. / Wikimedia Commons

16. Bridgeport, West Virginia
> Population: 8,382
> 5 yr. population change: +2.5%
> Median household income: $82,359
> Five-year unemployment rate: 2.4%

In Bridgeport, 50.5% of adults 25 and older have graduated from college, compared to 30.9% of American adults in that age group. The high college attainment rate has likely contributed to the town’s relatively high median household income of $82,359 a year. Not only is Bridgeport wealthy, but it is also inexpensive. Goods and services are about 15% less expensive than they are nationwide, on average.

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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