Special Report

Best Cities to Live in Every State

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South Dakota: Brandon
> Population: 9,867
> 5 yr. population change: +8.4%
> Median home value: $206,600
> Median household income: $84,075
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.6%

The Sioux City suburb of Brandon ranks as the most livable city in South Dakota. With access to jobs locally and in a larger nearby city, unemployment is low in Brandon. Over the last five years, an average of just 1.6% of the city’s labor force has been out of work, a lower unemployment rate than in the vast majority of cities and towns in the state and far lower than the national rate.

Brandon is also a relatively affordable city, with a cost of living 11.6% lower than the national average. Housing is particularly affordable as the median value of area homes is $206,600, just 2.5 more than the median household income in the city. Nationwide, the median home value is 3.4 more than what the median household income.

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Tennessee: Atoka
> Population: 9,139
> 5 yr. population change: +6.7%
> Median home value: $192,400
> Median household income: $91,228
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.0%

Atoka is a small town in western Tennessee located just north of Memphis. The town reported a 6.7% population growth over the last five years. A strong job market may partially explain the influx of new residents. According to the Census, an average of just 2.0% of Atoka’s labor force was unemployed in the last five years, about one-third the 5.9% national unemployment rate. The town’s economy also provides relatively high paying jobs. The typical Atoka household earns $91,228 a year, well above the $60,293 national median household income.

Crime rates are low in Atoka. Its violent crime rate of 96.7 per 100,000 people and property crime rate of 870.5 per 100,000 are each well below the national rates of 380.6 violent crimes per 100,000 and 2,199.5 property crimes per 100,000.

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Texas: Highland Park
> Population: 9,145
> 5 yr. population change: +5.0%
> Median home value: $1,440,400
> 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 area’s median annual household income of $207,019 is 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, well below the 5.9% national unemployment rate.

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

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Utah: Sandy
> Population: 95,420
> 5 yr. population change: +7.6%
> Median home value: $334,200
> Median household income: $91,836
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.1%

Residents of Sandy, a city less than 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, benefit from a healthy job market. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of people working in the city climbed by 9.2%, well above the national employment growth rate of 6.5%. An average of just 3.1% of the local labor force was unemployed in the last five years, well below the comparable 5.9% national unemployment rate.

Like many cities and municipalities on this list, Sandy appears to be an attractive place for new residents and families. In the past five years, the city’s population increased by 7.6%, more than double the 3.6% national population growth over the same period.

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Vermont: South Burlington
> Population: 18,975
> 5 yr. population change: +4.5%
> Median home value: $299,100
> Median household income: $71,017
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.3%

Sitting along Lake Champlain, South Burlington is adjacent to Burlington, the largest city in Vermont. A higher than average per capita concentration of businesses and attractions such as bars, restaurants, hotels, gyms, marinas, golf courses, museums, and movie theaters, improves quality of life in the area. These businesses, in addition to nearby colleges such as Champlain College and the University of Vermont, provide a wide range of employment opportunities for local residents. Over the last five years, an average of just 3.3% of the labor force in South Burlington was unemployed, well below the 5.9% national average.

Areas with economic opportunity often have lower crime rates. In South Burlington, there were just 166 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2018, less than half the comparable national rate of 381 per 100,000.