Special Report

Americas 50 Best Cities To Live

5. Piedmont, California
> Population: 11,317
> 5-yr. population change: +3.3%
> Median household income: $224,659
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.9%

Piedmont is a small city of less than 12,000 located in California’s San Francisco Bay area. Located within a major metropolitan area, Piedmont offers residents a wide range of public transit options. Of all those who commute to jobs in nearby Oakland, San Francisco, or elsewhere, over 15% use public transit — more than three times the national average. Jobs in the area are widely available, as an average of just 3.9% of the labor force has been out of work in the last five years, well below the comparable 5.3% national unemployment figure.

As is typically the case in the California cities on this list, living in Piedmont is not cheap as most homes in the area are worth over $2 million.

4. Newport Beach, California
> Population: 85,694
> 5-yr. population change: -1.0%
> Median household income: $127,223
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.1%

Newport Beach is a city of just over 85,000 residents in southern California along the Pacific Coast. The city is made up of 10 neighborhoods, a walkable downtown, 10 miles of coastline, dozens of parks, and more than 450 restaurants and shopping establishments,

Many of the best places to live are expensive, and Newport Beach is no different. It is one of the least affordable places to live in the country. The typical area home is worth $1.9 million, about 15 times more than the area’s median income of $127,223. Nationwide, the typical home is worth just 3.5 times more than the median household income.

Source: Sanfranman59 / Wikimedia Commons

3. Hillsborough, California
> Population: 11,447
> 5-yr. population change: +2.7%
> Median household income: $250,000+
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.0%

Hillsborough, a town in San Mateo County, California, ranks as the third best place to live in both the state and the nation as a whole. One of the wealthiest places in the country, most households earn over a quarter of a million dollars per year. Located not far from Palo Alto — one of only two cities that ranks higher than Hillsborough on this list — residents of Hillsborough have access to high-paying jobs in the area’s thriving tech industry. Over the last five years, an average of only 3.0% of the labor force in Hillsborough has been unemployed, well below the comparable 5.3% national figure.

Hillsborough is also located less than 20 miles from downtown San Francisco, affording residents access to everything one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country has to offer. Hillsborogh itself offers adult recreation classes and a high per capita concentration of places like restaurants, gyms, and fitness centers.

2. Manhattan Beach, California
> Population: 35,500
> 5-yr. population change: -0.1%
> Median household income: $153,023
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 5.1%

Manhattan Beach is a small city located just south of Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast. Residents have access to 2 miles of beach front for fishing, surfing, and swimming. The walkable downtown area also features more than 150 retailers, 50 restaurants, and a weekly farmer’s market.

Residents of Manhattan Beach tend to be wealthy and well educated. Most area households earn over $150,000 a year, and three in every four adults in the city have a bachelor’s degree.

Source: SpVVK / Getty Images

1. Palo Alto, California
> Population: 66,573
> 5-yr. population change: +0.9%
> Median household income: $158,271
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.2%

Palo Alto, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, ranks as the best city to live in the United States. The city Palo Alto and the surrounding area are home to a high concentration of tech companies including giants such as Facebook and Google as well as startup.s — and jJobs in the area tend to by high paying, as most households in the city earn over $158,000 a year, and about 40% of households earn over $200,000. Partially because the area has become a tech industry hub, unemployment is low, averaging about 3.2% over the last five years, well below the comparable 5.3% national figurerate.