New Mexico: Santa Fe
> Population: 83,847
> 5 yr. population change: +21.9%
> Median home value: $270,700
> Median household income: $56,262
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.0%
New Mexico’s capital city also ranks as the most livable city in the state. Though Sante Fe’s violent crime rate of 396 incidents per 100,000 people is slightly higher than the national average, it is lower than most other cities and towns in New Mexico with available data.
Quality of life in the city is supported by a high per capita concentration of cultural venues — museums in particular. Santa Fe is home to the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Museum of contemporary Native Arts — in addition to more than 250 smaller galleries. Steeped in history, Sante Fe was established over a decade before the Mayflower pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, making it the oldest capital city in North America.
New York: Canandaigua
> Population: 10,348
> 5 yr. population change: -1.8%
> Median home value: $166,200
> Median household income: $49,198
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 4.4%
Located on the northern end of New York state’s Finger Lake with the same name, Canandaigua is a popular regional destination and has a far higher per capita concentration of bars, restaurants, hotels, marinas, golf courses, and museums than is typical among cities. Canandaigua is also a relatively safe place. There were just 24 violent crimes committed in the city in 2018, equivalent to 234 for every 100,000 people, which is well below the national violent crime rate of 381 per 100,000.
North Carolina: Pinehurst
> Population: 15,821
> 5 yr. population change: +8.8%
> Median home value: $297,100
> Median household income: $80,128
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.6%
Pinehurst, a village of just under 16,000 residents located about 100 miles east of Charlotte, ranks as the best place to live in in North Carolina. The area is home to the historic golf course of the same name, and it has a higher per capita concentration of restaurants and hotels than most of the country.
Over the last five years, the average unemployment rate in Pinehurst was just 2.6%, less than half the comparable 5.9% national rate. With a healthy job market, area residents are relatively financially secure. The typical Pinehurst household earns $80,128 a year, and just 2.7% of the population lives below the poverty line, compared to the national median household income of $60,293 and a poverty rate of 14.1%.
North Dakota: West Fargo
> Population: 34,419
> 5 yr. population change: +27.4%
> Median home value: $228,100
> Median household income: $81,051
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.5%
West Fargo, the best city to live in North Dakota, is also among the fastest growing communities in the country. The number of people living in West Fargo increased by 27.4% in the last five years, well above the 3.6% national population growth rate. The city is also adding jobs rapidly, with overall employment climbing 17.9% between 2014 and 2018, well above the comparable 6.5% national job growth. The city’s five-year average unemployment rate of 1.5% is considerably lower than the 5.9% national rate.
With a strong job market, people in West Fargo are less likely than most Americans to face serious financial hardship. The city’s poverty rate of 7.4% is nearly half the 14.1% national rate.
Ohio: New Albany
> Population: 10,896
> 5 yr. population change: +33.9%
> Median home value: $494,600
> Median household income: $203,194
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 3.9%
New Albany is one of the fastest growing cities in Ohio. In the past five years, the number of people living in the city grew by over a third. Located less than 20 miles northeast of Columbus, New Albany residents are within commuting distance to jobs in and around the state capital — and many of those jobs are high paying. The median household income in New Albany is $203,194 a year, more than triple the median nationwide of $60,293.
Not only are New Albany residents likely to have high incomes, but a dollar also goes further in the city than it does in much of the country. Goods and services are 13.4% less expensive in the city than they are nationwide, on average.