> Population: 18,588
> 5-yr. Population change: +7.6% (state: +7.9%)
> Median home value: $463,700 (state: $343,300)
> Median household income: $66,160 (state: $72,331)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.8% (state: 4.3%)
Durango, a small city of less than 20,000 residents near the southwestern corner of Colorado, ranks as the best place to live in the state. Just outside of the San Juan national forest, Durango residents have easy access to any number of outdoor activities, including skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and camping. The city is also host to a higher than average concentration of restaurants, bars, hotels, movie theaters, fitness centers, museums, and golf courses.
The city is also more pedestrian-friendly than most — nearly 20% of commuters in Durango either walk or bike to work. Perhaps not surprisingly, Durango has one of the most physically active populations in the country. Only 13.5% of area adults do not get some form of exercise on a regular basis, well below the 22.7% share of adults nationwide.
> Population: 21,742
> 5-yr. Population change: +2.6% (state: -0.5%)
> Median home value: $1,471,700 (state: $275,400)
> Median household income: $232,523 (state: $78,444)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.9% (state: 6.0%)
Darien is an unincorporated community in Fairfield County, Connecticut, along the Long Island Sound. Situated along a commuter line a short distance from Manhattan, one of the largest job markets in the United States, Darien’s five-year average unemployment rate of 4.9% is considerably lower than the 6.0% state rate. Additionally, over 30% of local residents use public transit to go to and from work, an option many Americans do not have.
Financial prosperity is another reason Darien ranks as the best place to live in Connecticut. The median annual household income in Darien is $232,523, nearly three times the $78,444 state median. Darien is also a safe place to live. There were only 14 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the area in 2019, a fraction of the comparable 184 per 100,000 state rate and 367 per 100,000 national rate.
> Population: 11,484
> 5-yr. Population change: +7.5% (state: +4.4%)
> Median home value: $206,400 (state: $251,100)
> Median household income: $67,277 (state: $68,287)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 5.4% (state: 5.5%)
Smyrna, located on the northern end of the Delmarva Peninsula, ranks as the best place to live in Delaware. Of the dozen cities and towns in Delaware with sufficient data, Smyrna is among the most affordable. The typical home in Smyrna is worth $206,400, just 3.1 times more than the local median annual household income of $67,277. Meanwhile, the typical Delaware home is worth 3.7 times what the typical household earns.
Smyrna is also far safer than Delaware as a whole. There were 272 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the town, compared to 473 per 100,000 across Delaware. Smyrna’s desirability as a place to live is also evidenced by its faster than average population growth. Over the last five years, the number of people living in the town increased by 7.5%, compared to Delaware’s 4.4% population growth over the same period.
Florida: Key Biscayne
> Population: 12,915
> 5-yr. Population change: +1.1% (state: +8.0%)
> Median home value: $1,211,000 (state: $215,300)
> Median household income: $151,310 (state: $55,660)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 5.3% (state: 5.6%)
Key Biscayne, Florida, is a small village located on a barrier island in the Atlantic just south of Miami. One of the safest places in the United States, Key Biscayne has an annual violent crime rate of 38 incidents per 100,000 people, a fraction of the comparable 378 per 100,000 state rate and 367 per 100,000 national rate.
The area’s high quality of life is supported by the area’s relative wealth. Only 4.9% of the population live on poverty-level wages, and most area households earn over $150,000 a year. Meanwhile, across Florida, the poverty rate is 14.0% and the median household income is $55,660.
Georgia: Sandy Springs
> Population: 107,072
> 5-yr. Population change: +8.7% (state: +5.0%)
> Median home value: $471,800 (state: $176,000)
> Median household income: $78,613 (state: $58,700)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.0% (state: 5.7%)
Sandy Springs, a city of over 100,000 just north of Atlanta, ranks as the best place to live in Georgia. Due in part to their proximity to Atlanta, Sandy Spring residents have a higher than average per capita concentration of restaurants, hotels, fitness centers, movie theaters and theater companies in their surrounding county. The city is also surrounded by nearly 1,000 acres of parks and natural areas. Partially as a result, 95% of the population have easy access to public places for recreation, compared to about 84% of all Americans and 76% of all Georgia residents.
With Atlanta within commuting distance, Sandy Springs residents also have access to a large job market. Only 3.0% of the local labor force have been unemployed in the last five years, almost half the 5.7% statewide jobless rate. Sandy Springs itself is also home to the operations or headquarters of multiple Fortune 500 and Fortune 1,000 companies, including the United Parcel Service, packaging company West Rock, and Newell Brands, the company behind brands like Rubbermaid and Ball.
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