Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

30. Dover, Ohio
> Population: 12,811
> 5 yr. population change: -0.1%
> Median household income: $52,875
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 4.4%

Dover, Ohio is one of the most affordable cities in the country. The typical area home is worth $125,500, well below the national median home value of $204,900 and just 2.4 times more than the $53,875 median household income in the city. By contrast, the median home value across the country is 3.4 times higher than the national median household income. On average, goods and services are about 16% less expensive in Dover than they are nationwide.

Dover is also a relatively safe place. The city’s violent crime rate of 86.3 incidents per 100,000 people and property crime rate of 760.7 incidents per 100,000 are each well below the respective national rates of 380.6 per 100,000 and 2,199.5 per 100,000.

Source: Andy445 / Getty Images

29. Rochester, Minnesota
> Population: 113,913
> 5 yr. population change: +5.3%
> Median household income: $70,749
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 4.2%

Rochester is the only city in Minnesota to rank on this list, and with a population of nearly 114,000, it is also one of the most populous cities on this list. A relatively affordable place to live, the median home value in Rochester is just 2.7 times higher than the median household income, well below the comparable 3.4 national ratio. Overall, goods and services are about 5% less expensive in Rochester than they are nationwide on average.

Incomes are relatively high in Rochester. The typical household in the city earns $70,749 a year, over $10,000 more than the typical American household. Adults who have completed college often have access to a broader range of high paying jobs, and in Rochester, 45.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 31.5% of adults nationwide.

28. Orinda, California
> Population: 19,431
> 5 yr. population change: +7.3%
> Median household income: $210,288
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.6%

Orinda is one of a number of California cities to rank among the best places to live, and like most of the others, Orinda is a high income area. The typical household in the city, which is located about 17 miles from downtown San Francisco, earns $210,288 a year, about 3.5 times as much as the typical American household. While goods and services tend to be more expensive in Orinda, these high incomes are likely enough to offset the high costs. Wealthier areas typically have highly educated populations, and in Orinda, 83.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 31.5% of adults nationwide.

Orinda residents benefit not only from cultural and entertainment attractions in the nearby cities of San Francisco and Oakland, but also jobs. An average of just 3.6% of Orinda’s labor force were unemployed over the last five years, well below the 5.9% national unemployment rate reported by the Census.

27. Hermitage, Pennsylvania
> Population: 15,812
> 5 yr. population change: -2.8%
> Median household income: $53,378
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.2%

Hermitage is a small western Pennsylvania city that sits along the Ohio state border. The city ranks on this list partially due to its high concentration of social, recreation, and cultural venues. There are more places like bars, restaurants, libraries, and golf courses on a per capita basis in Hermitage than there are nationwide. Hermitage is also a relatively safe place. There were 19 violent crimes reported in the city in 2018, or 122.3 per 100,000 people, a fraction of the 380.6 per 100,000 national rate.

Hermitage residents also benefit from a low cost of living. Goods and services in the city are 19.5% less expensive than they are nationwide on average.

Source: IslandLeigh / Getty Images

26. Belgrade, Montana
> Population: 8,345
> 5 yr. population change: +11.4%
> Median household income: $58,146
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.5%

Belgrade, the only city in Montana on this list, ranks among the best places to live partially due to the concentration of entertainment and cultural venues. The city boasts a far larger than typical share of places like bars, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and golf courses on a per capita basis. The concentration of such businesses may also partially explain the city’s low unemployment rate. An average of just 2.5% of Belgrade’s labor force were out of work in the last five years, less than half the comparable 5.9% national jobless rate.

Those commuting to work in Belgrade, spend far less time every day getting to and from work than the typical American commuter. The average commute time in the city is just 18.7 minutes. Meanwhile, the average commute time nationwide is 26.6 minutes.