> Population: 15,160
> 5 yr. population change: +3.0%
> Median home value: $150,300
> Median household income: $59,443
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.7%
Based on a weighted index of 25 social and economic measures, Millbrook, a small city of just over 15,000 residents, ranks as the best city to live in Alabama. Millbrook has a low cost of living, and real estate is especially affordable. The median value of homes in the area is only about 2.5 times the median household income. Across the country, the median home value is about 3.4 times the median household income. Millbrook has a relatively low violent crime rate, and the city’s five-year average unemployment rate of 3.7% is well below the comparable national jobless rate of 5.9%.
As is the case in many cities on this list, Millbrook residents have access to jobs and cultural attractions in a larger nearby city. Millbrook is located just 10 miles north of Montgomery, the state capital.
> Population: 32,330
> 5 yr. population change: +1.4%
> Median home value: $344,000
> Median household income: $88,213
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.8%
Juneau, Alaska’s state capital, also ranks as the best city to live in the state. Located along the coast in southern Alaska, Juneau offers a range of attractions, many of which are geared towards those with an appreciation for the outdoors. The area offers beaches, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, glaciers, and access to rivers and the ocean.
Juneau residents are also more likely to be financially secure than most Americans. Most households in the city earn over $88,000 a year, and just 7.9% of the population lives below the poverty line. Nationwide, the typical household earns $60,293 annually, and 14.1% of the population lives in poverty.
Arizona: Paradise Valley
> Population: 14,215
> 5 yr. population change: +8.8%
> Median home value: $1,505,300
> Median household income: $204,145
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.4%
Paradise Valley, located in south-central Arizona, within commuting distance of Phoenix and Scottsdale, ranks as the best place to live in the state. Though most of Paradise Valley is residential, the town is also home to nine resorts, 15 places of worship, 11 schools, three golf courses, and four medical centers.
Like many desirable towns and cities with safe streets and strong job markets, Paradise Valley is not a cheap place to live. Over half of all area homes are worth over $1.5 million.
> Population: 8,926
> 5 yr. population change: +18.4%
> Median home value: $147,200
> Median household income: $66,994
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.4%
Lowell is a small city of less than 10,000 people located in Northwestern Arkansas. As is often the case in the cities and towns on this list, Lowell is rapidly growing. Over the past half decade, the number of people living in Lowell increased by 18.4%. Such population growth is common in areas with strong economic conditions, and in Lowell, overall employment has climbed by 22.6% over that time. The city’s average unemployment rate during the same period was just 1.4%.
Lowell is a relatively safe city. There were only 189 violent crimes reported in the city for every 100,000 people in 2018, about half the national violent crime rate.
California: Manhattan Beach
> Population: 35,573
> 5 yr. population change: +0.7%
> Median home value: $1,947,900
> Median household income: $150,083
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.3%
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. Goods and services are about 7.4% more expensive than the national average, and most homes are worth over $1.9 million.
As is often the case in wealthy areas, violent crimes are relatively uncommon in Manhattan Beach. The city’s violent crime rate of 158 incidents per 100,000 people is less than half the national rate of 381 per 100,000.