Special Report

Americas 50 Best Cities To Live

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45. Thousand Oaks, California
> Population: 127,873
> 5-yr. population change: -0.2%
> Median household income: $109,378
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.5%

Thousand Oaks is a city of over 100,000 people about 35 miles west of Los Angeles. The median annual household income of the city is $109,378, much higher than the national median of $62,843. More than 22% of Thousand Oaks households earn $200,000 or more in a year.

The area’s high income level may be due at least in part to the high level of educational attainment in the city — more than half of all adult residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree. College-educated members of the workforce tend to earn higher wages than those without a degree. They are also less likely to live below the poverty line, and just 5.2% of Thousand Oaks residents live in poverty, less than half of the national poverty rate.

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44. Iowa City, Iowa
> Population: 74,950
> 5-yr. population change: +6.2%
> Median household income: $49,075
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.7%

Commuters in Iowa City are much less likely to have to deal with long drives into work. The average commute time in Iowa City is just 17 minutes, 10 minutes shorter than the typical American commute. More than 28% of commuters in the city do not take a car, opting instead for public transit, walking, or riding a bicycle.

The median annual household income in Iowa City is relatively low, particularly among the cities on this list, at just over $49,000, more than $12,000 lower than the national median. This may be due, at least in part, to the large enrollment at the University of Iowa, as most of the nearly 32,000 students likely do not have full-time jobs.

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43. Bainbridge Island, Washington
> Population: 24,486
> 5-yr. population change: +5.5%
> Median household income: $117,990
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.1%

Bainbridge Island is an affluent community just west of Seattle, across Elliott Bay, and is accessible by ferry. It has several parks, nature preserves, and golf courses.

The population of Bainbridge Island is one of the most highly educated in the country, with 72% of adult residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 32.1% of American adults. People with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to have higher incomes, and the typical household in Bainbridge Island earns nearly $118,000 per year.

42. Downers Grove, Illinois
> Population: 49,470
> 5-yr. population change: +0.2%
> Median household income: $94,893
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.1%

Downers Grove is located about 20 miles west of Chicago. Being this close to a major city has advantages, like access to public transit. Some 11.8% of Downers Grove workers commute via public transit, more than double the nationwide rate of public transit usage.

The city is fairly affluent, with most households earning over $94,000 annually, and 16.2% of households earning over $200,000 per year — more than double the nationwide share of 7.7%. Just 5.0% of residents live in poverty, less than half the U.S. poverty rate of 13.4%.

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41. Durango, Colorado
> Population: 18,588
> 5-yr. population change: +7.6%
> Median household income: $66,160
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.8%

Durango, a city of about 19,000 residents in southern Colorado is one of four places in the state to rank on this list. The city is home to a number of art galleries and museums, three golf courses, and an active nightlife. Residents also have access to places to ski, hike, mountain bike, and raft.

Real estate taxes are relatively low in Durango, but housing is expensive. The typical area home is worth about $463,700, more than twice the median home value nationwide of $217,500. Housing prices have likely been driven up by the area’s popularity. In the last five years, Durango’s population climbed by 7.6%. The U.S. population grew by just 3.4% over the same period.