Spanning nearly 3.8 million square miles and home to over 335 million people, the United States is the third largest country in the world by both landmass and population. And while the standard of living across the U.S. as a whole compares favorably to much of the world, in a country this large, some places are far more desirable than others.
Overall quality of life is somewhat subjective. But within any given community, factors related to the local economy, public health and safety, and access to culture and entertainment can all make a meaningful difference. To be sure, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that nearly 40% of the 28.2 million Americans who moved in 2022 did so to either take or find a new job, have a better or more affordable home, live in a safer neighborhood, or for health reasons. (This is how big a house you can buy for $200,000 in every state.)
Many of the elements that can contribute to, or detract from, quality of life, are quantifiable – and when taken together they offer a more objective measure of the best places to live in the United States.
Using data from the Census Bureau, the FBI, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 22 measures to identify the 50 best U.S. cities to live in. The measures used in the index fall into one of three broad categories: economy, community, and overall quality of life. We considered all places in the U.S. with sufficient data and populations of at least 5,000. Our list includes cities, towns, villages, boroughs, and unincorporated communities. To avoid geographic clustering, we only considered the top-ranking place in a given county.
Generally, the places on this list tend to have low crime rates, thriving economies, and relatively financially secure populations. A majority of residents of most of these communities also typically have easy access to quality health care, public parks and recreation facilities, as well as to entertainment and cultural attractions such as bars, restaurants, theaters, and museums.
The largest share of the best places to live are in the West, including 11 in California alone. The Northeast is home to 17 of these communities, including seven in New Jersey and four in Massachusetts.
While some of the places on this list are large cities with hundreds of thousands of residents, most are relatively small, with populations of less than 30,000. Still, many of these smaller communities are within commuting distance of major cities like Chicago, Miami, New York, and Washington D.C. (Here is a look at America’s richest cities.)
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