25. Wellesley, Massachusetts
> Population: 28,747
> 5-yr. population change: -0.4%
> Median household income: $197,132
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.6%
Wellesley, an unincorporated community in the Boston metro area, is one of three places in Massachusetts to rank on this list. Home to both Wellesley College and Babson College, it is also one of several college towns on this list.
An affluent and well-educated community, Wellesley’s median household income stands at close to $200,000. Additionally, nearly 84% of the local 25 and older residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
24. Rye, New York
> Population: 15,820
> 5-yr. population change: -0.5%
> Median household income: $192,688
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.1%
Rye, a small city in Westchester County is one of only two cities in New York state to rank on this list. Located along Long Island Sound, Rye boasts a boat basin that offers residents access to a beach, hundreds of boat slips and racks as well as winter storage, parks, and a walkable downtown area with a number of shopping and dining options.
Residents also benefit from their home town’s close proximity to New York City, and all the entertainment options and employment opportunities available in the area. The area’s location and amenities have driven up real estate values. Most homes in Rye are worth over $1.3 million.
23. Princeton, New Jersey
> Population: 31,000
> 5-yr. population change: +7.1%
> Median household income: $137,672
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.3%
Princeton, located in central New Jersey and home to Princeton University, ranks as the fourth best place to live in the Garden State. As is the case with several other college towns on this list, Princeton has a well-educated population and a strong job market. Over 80% of adults in the city have a bachelor’s degree, and an average of only 3.3% of the labor force has been unemployed in the last five years — compared to the 32.1% and 5.3% national figures, respectively.
Princeton residents benefit from public transit lines that offer easy access to New York City and Philadelphia. The city also has a local farmers market as well as restaurants that offer cuisines from around the world. The small city also has a number of parks that offer basketball and tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, birding, and walking trails.
22. Chelsea, Massachusetts
> Population: 39,992
> 5-yr. population change: +7.8%
> Median household income: $56,802
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.7%
Chelsea, Massachusetts, is a densely populated city of about 40,000 located across the Mystic River from Boston. Area residents benefit from many of the advantages of a big city — but with more affordable housing. Residents have access to reliable public transportation, parks, employment opportunities, health care, as well as restaurants, bars, fitness centers, museums, and theatre companies. Meanwhile, the typical home in Chelsea is worth $350,800, compared to the median home value of $532,700 in nearby Boston.
Chelsea is growing far faster than most of the country. In the last five year, the local population expanded by 7.8%. Meanwhile, the U.S. population grew by just 3.4% over the same period.
21. Key West, Florida
> Population: 24,843
> 5-yr. population change: -1.4%
> Median household income: $69,630
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 2.2%
Key West, the southernmost point in Florida, also ranks as the best place to live in the Sunshine State. Located at the very end of the Keys archipelago, Key West is relatively isolated and is over 150 miles from Miami, the nearest major city. Still, there appear to be sufficient employment opportunities on the island, as an average of just 2.2% of the labor force has been unemployed in the last five years, compared to 5.3% of the U.S. labor force.
Key West is steeped in history and culture. Home to Harry Truman’s Little White House, where he spent 175 days of his presidency, and the former home of Ernest Hemingway, the city has a far higher than average concentration of museums. The pedestrian-friendly city also has an active bar and nightlife scene as well as plenty of dining and shopping venues.