Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

20. Perryville, Missouri
> Population: 8,403
> 5 yr. population change: +1.7%
> Median household income: $42,439
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.1%

Perryville is a small city in southeastern Missouri about 80 miles south of St. Louis. Part of the reason Perryville ranks among the best cities to live in is its affordability. Goods and services in the city are about 11.6% less expensive than they are nationwide on average, and housing in particular is relatively affordable. The typical home in Perryville is worth 2.9 times as much as the city’s median household income. Meanwhile, the median home value across the country is 3.4 times higher than the median household income.

Perryville residents are also less likely than most Americans to find themselves out of a job. The city’s five year average unemployment rate of 2.1% is less than half the comparable national figure of 5.9%.

Source: Courtesy of the City of Ladue, Missouri

19. Ladue, Missouri
> Population: 8,586
> 5 yr. population change: +0.8%
> Median household income: $192,500
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.6%

Ladue, a suburb of St. Louis, is one of the wealthiest cities on this list. The typical household in Ladue earns $192,500 a year, more than triple the national median income of $60,293. Ladue residents have easy access not only to entertainment and cultural attractions in nearby St. Louis, and also jobs in the city. An average of just 1.6% of area residents were out of work over the last five years, well below the national average of 5.9%.

High property values can be indicative of an area’s desirability. In Ladue, the typical home is worth $835,300, more than four times the national median home value of $204,900.

Source: Dreamframer / Getty Images

18. Monterey, California
> Population: 28,512
> 5 yr. population change: +2.1%
> Median household income: $77,562
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.7%

Monterey is a coastal city in central California, located about 2 hours south of San Francisco. A popular tourist destination, Monterey has a high concentration of entertainment and recreation venues like restaurants, golf courses, museums, and movie theaters — as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

People who live and work in Monterey have options and when it comes to commuting, and are less likely than the typical American to have to rely on a car. About one in every four commuters in Monterey get to work by means other than a car, like walking or public transit, compared to fewer than 10% of commuters nationwide who use non-car options. The average commute time in Monterey is also about 10 minutes shorter than the national average.

Source: bpperry / Getty Images

17. Santa Barbara, California
> Population: 91,325
> 5 yr. population change: +2.5%
> Median household income: $74,798
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 4.1%

Santa Barbara is a mid-sized coastal city in Southern California, situated about 100 miles West of Los Angeles. Like other California cities along the Pacific Coast to rank on this list, Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination. Partially as a result, Santa Barbara boasts a high concentration of entertainment, recreation, and cultural venues like restaurants, bars, hotels, and museums.

Though Santa Barbara has a slightly higher than average cost of living, incomes are also higher than average in the area. The typical Santa Barbara household earns $74,798 a year, nearly $15,000 more than the median income nationwide.

Source: Wiki name / Wikimedia Commons

16. Bellaire, Texas
> Population: 18,733
> 5 yr. population change: +8.8%
> Median household income: $201,629
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.4%

Bellaire is a small Texas suburb, located about 10 miles from downtown Houston. Within commuting distance of one of the largest cities in the country, Bellaire residents have access to the attractions and jobs in the nation’s fourth most populous city. An average of just 2.4% of Bellaire’s labor force were unemployed in the last five years, less than half the comparable 5.9% national unemployment rate. Bellaire is also an affluent city, with the majority of households earning over $200,000 a year.

Like many of the best cities to live in, Bellaire is growing relatively rapidly. Over the last five years, the city’s population grew by 8.8%, more than double the 3.6% U.S. population growth over the same period.