Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

5. Piedmont, California
> Population: 11,308
> 5 yr. population change: +4.2%
> Median household income: $210,889
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.0%

Located less than 15 miles from San Francisco, Piedmont is one of several Bay Area cities to rank among the best places to live. Piedmont is a relatively safe city — there were 21 violent crimes reported in the city limits in 2018, resulting in a violent crime rate of 183.0 per 100,000 people, well below the 380.6 per 100,000 national rate.

Cities with low crime often tend to be more affluent places where poverty is relatively uncommon — and Piedmont is no exception. The typical household in Piedmont has an income of $210,889 a year, more than triple the national median household income of $60,293. Just 2.7% of the city’s population live below the poverty line compared to the 14.1% national poverty rate.

Source: Ansem27 / Wikimedia Commons

4. Highland Park, Texas
> Population: 9,145
> 5 yr. population change: +5.0%
> Median household income: $207,019
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.3%

Highland Park, Texas, is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. The typical household has an income of $207,019 a year, well more than triple the national median household income of $60,293 a year. Just north of downtown Dallas, Highland Park residents have access to employment opportunities in a major city, and just 2.3% of area workers were out of a job in the last five years, on average, well below the 5.9% national rate.

Town residents benefit not only to access to cultural and entertainment options in nearby Dallas. There are also 22 parks in the town, including eight tennis courts, three playgrounds, and a swimming pool.

Source: Rocky89 / Getty Images

3. Hanover, New Hampshire
> Population: 8,591
> 5 yr. population change: +0.5%
> Median household income: $103,558
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.4%

Hanover, New Hampshire is one of only a few cities in the Northeastern United States to rank on this list, in large part because the cost of living in much of the Northeast is relatively high. While goods and services are more expensive in Hanover than they are nationwide, the high cost of living in the city is largely offset by higher incomes. The majority of households in the city earn over $100,000. The city also has a strong job market, as an average of just 3.4% of workers in the city were unemployed over the last five years, well below the comparable national figure of 5.9%.

Hanover residents also benefit from a range of entertainment, cultural, and recreation options. There is a higher than typical per capita concentration of places like restaurants, gyms, golf courses, nature parks, museums, libraries, and movie theaters in Hanover.

Source: UrAveragePhotographer / Getty Images

2. Winnetka, Illinois
> Population: 12,481
> 5 yr. population change: +1.7%
> Median household income: $220,577
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.4%

Winnetka is a small village along the shore of Lake Michigan about 20 miles north of downtown Chicago. Winnetka residents have easy access to the largest city in the Midwest with a commuter line that goes directly downtown. Partially as a result, over a quarter of commuters in the area use public transit to get to work and do not have to rely on a car. As is often the case in municipalities on this list located outside major urban areas, unemployment is low in Winnetka. The village’s five year average jobless rate of 2.4% is less than half the comparable national figure of 5.9%.

The village also boasts a high per capita concentration of restaurants, bars, and theater companies as well as a total of 27 parks that span nearly 250 acres.

1. Manhattan Beach, California
> Population: 35,573
> 5 yr. population change: +0.7%
> Median household income: $150,083
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.3%

Manhattan Beach is one of several California cities to rank on this list. Located on the Pacific Coast about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach residents have access to a major urban area and miles of ocean coast. Due in part to its high desirability as a place to live, real estate in Manhattan Beach is expensive, as is the overall cost of living. People living there tend to be relatively affluent, with over half of all area households reporting incomes over $150,000 a year.

As is often the case in wealthy areas, serious crimes are relatively uncommon in Manhattan Beach. The city’s violent crime rate of 158.2 incidents per 100,000 people is less than half the national rate of 380.6 per 100,000.

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