Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

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10. Greenwood Village, Colorado
> Population: 15,677
> 5 yr. population change: +10.2%
> Median household income: $127,134
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.4%

Greenwood Village is a small Denver suburb about 10 miles south of the city. Like many other municipalities in commuting distance of a major urban area, Greenwood Village residents benefit from easy access to the amenities of the the nearby city, as well as the employment opportunities there. Likely partially as a result, just 3.4% of workers in Greenwood were unemployed in the last five years, on average, a far lower share than the comparable 5.9% national unemployment rate over that period.

Greenwood Village residents give the city high marks in several measures of quality of life. According to a residential survey conducted in fall 2018, the city’s parks, aesthetics, and safety are the primary reasons most residents are very satisfied living in Greenwood Village.

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9. Mercer Island, Washington
> Population: 25,492
> 5 yr. population change: +9.4%
> Median household income: $142,413
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.6%

The only city in Washington state to rank on this list, Mercer Island is a municipality on an island in Lake Washington, in between the cities of Seattle and Bellevue. Though the cost of living on the island, particularly housing, is higher than average, area residents also have relatively high incomes. The typical Mercer Island household earns $142,413 a year, more than double the national median household income of $60,293.

The island also boasts a range of cultural and entertainment options, with a far greater than average per capita concentration of places like restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and museums.

8. Newport Beach, California
> Population: 86,280
> 5 yr. population change: +0.3%
> Median household income: $122,709
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.4%

Newport Beach is a coastal city located about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Like other coastal California cities on this list, Newport Beach is relatively affluent. The typical household in the city earns $122,709 a year, more than double the national median of $60,293. Newport Beach residents are also relatively healthy in that they are far more likely to exercise regularly and less likely to be obese than the typical American. This is likely due in part to residents’ access to exercise opportunities, as 99.1% of residents across Orange County — where Newport Beach is located — have easy access to places for physical activity, like parks, recreation centers, and gyms.

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7. Solana Beach, California
> Population: 13,370
> 5 yr. population change: +2.7%
> Median household income: $105,821
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.5%

Solana Beach is a coastal city in southern California. A wealthy area, the majority of households in the city earn over $100,000 a year. Located less than 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, area residents have access to jobs and entertainment located in the major urban area. The city is also home to one of only three train stations in San Diego County, providing commuters more options. For recreation, the city boasts 1.7 miles of beach, and a higher than average per capita concentration of restaurants, gyms, museums, and movie theaters.

Solana Beach is also a relatively safe city. There were 23 violent crimes reported in the city in 2018, or 170.1 for every 100,000 people, less than half the national violent crime rate of 380.6 per 100,000.

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6. Paradise Valley, Arizona
> Population: 14,215
> 5 yr. population change: +8.8%
> Median household income: $204,145
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.4%

Paradise Valley is a small city located about 15 miles northeast of Phoenix. Area residents benefit from a healthy job market. An average of just 1.4% of the labor force were unemployed over the last five years, compared to the 5.9% national figure. Paradise Valley is also wealthy, with most households earning over $200,000 a year.

Like a number of other cities and towns on this list, Paradise Valley appears to be attracting new residents — the city’s population grew by 8.8% in the last five years, more than double the 3.6% national population growth rate.