> Population: 85,175
> 5-yr. Population change: +2.8% (state: +1.2%)
> Median home value: $291,000 (state: $142,700)
> Median household income: $89,452 (state: $50,536)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.3% (state: 5.9%)
Hoover, a city of about 83,000 located just south of Birmingham, ranks as the best place to live in Alabama. A relatively safe place, Hoover’s annual violent crime rate of 133 incidents per 100,000 people is well below the state rate of 511 incidents per 100,000.
People living in Hoover are also far more likely to be financially secure than the typical Alabama resident. The typical area household earns $89,452 a year, and only 6.2% of the local population live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, across all of Alabama, the median household income is $50,536, and the poverty rate stands at 16.7%.
> Population: 32,227
> 5-yr. Population change: +0.1% (state: +1.2%)
> Median home value: $345,900 (state: $270,400)
> Median household income: $88,390 (state: $77,640)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.6% (state: 7.2%)
Of the 13 cities and towns in Alaska with sufficient data, Juneau, the state capital, ranks as the best place to live. Supported in part by a concentration of public sector jobs, Juneau’s average five-year unemployment rate of 4.6% is nearly the lowest in the state and well below the 6.8% average rate across Alaska. Additionally, just over 53% of Juneau residents are employed, the largest share of any Alaskan city or town considered.
In addition to a strong job market, Juneau residents benefit from easy access to venues for entertainment and culture. There is a far higher than average per capita concentration of places like restaurants, bars, hotels and movie theaters in the city than there are in much of the country.
Arizona: Paradise Valley
> Population: 14,362
> 5-yr. Population change: +8.4% (state: +7.4%)
> Median home value: $1,516,200 (state: $225,500)
> Median household income: $211,393 (state: $58,945)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 2.1% (state: 5.9%)
Paradise Valley is a town of about 13,000 people just outside of Phoenix. Established just over 50 years ago with the goal of maintaining a quiet community with a small town feel in the face of the rapid expansion of Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale, Paradise Valley ranks as the best place to live in Arizona.
Over the last five years, an average of only 2.1% of the local labor force have been unemployed, by far the lowest unemployment rate of any city or town in the state with sufficient data. Paradise Valley is also one of the safest places in the United States, with an annual violent crime rate of 68 incidents per 100,000 people, a fraction of the state and national rates of 455 per 100,000 and 367 per 100,000, respectively.
> Population: 9,175
> 5-yr. Population change: +18.3% (state: +1.8%)
> Median home value: $157,600 (state: $127,800)
> Median household income: $68,438 (state: $47,597)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 1.0% (state: 5.1%)
Lowell is a city of just over 9,000 people in northwestern Arkansas, just outside of Fayetteville. A relatively small affordable place with a strong job market, it ranks as the best place to live in Arkansas. The typical home in Lowell is worth $157,600, just 2.3 times more than the local median annual household income of $68,438. Meanwhile, the typical Alabama home is worth 2.7 times what the typical household earns, and the median home value across the U.S. is 3.7 times the median household income. Residents of Lowell are also far less likely than the typical Arkansas resident to be struggling financially, as just 5.6% of the population live below the poverty line, compared to Arkansas’ 17.0% poverty rate.
Lowell’s desirability as a place to live is evidenced in its population growth. Over the last five years, the number of people living in Lowell has climbed by 18.3%. Meanwhile, Arkansas’ population grew by only 1.8% over the same period.
> Population: 30,576
> 5-yr. Population change: +3.2% (state: +3.2%)
> Median home value: $1,901,900 (state: $505,000)
> Median household income: $128,447 (state: $75,235)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.7% (state: 6.1%)
Burlingame, California, is a small city along the west coast of the San Francisco Bay. The city ranks as the best place to live in the state largely because of its residents’ financial prosperity. Most area households earn over $128,000 a year, compared to the state median of $75,235. Unemployment is also relatively low in the area. The strong job market and high incomes are both supported by a high concentration of biotech companies in the area. Local residents also have access to jobs in and around the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas.
Quality of life in Burlingame is also bolstered by a high per capita concentration of places like restaurants, hotels, and fitness centers. Nearly 100% of those living in Burlingame and the broader San Mateo County, where the city is located, have access to public places for exercise such as parks, compared to less than 85% of all Americans.