Thinking about relocating within the U.S.? It’s a wonderful country with a vast amount of diversity, culture, and history. There are an overwhelming number of cities and towns in America; how do you choose the right one? Don’t stress. There is a place out there that’s best suited for you. It just depends on your preferences and priorities. Nature lovers, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, techies- even sports fans – we’ve found the perfect places for you. We’ve compiled a list based on unemployment rates, cost of living, household incomes, and just plain desirability. This is 2017’s list of the 11 best places to live in the United States.
1) Denver, Colorado
The secret is out on Denver. Every year, more people migrate to the Mile-High City searching for an overall better quality of life. Denver has seen a 15.5% increase in population since 2010. Now, almost 700,000 folks call this city home. Why are people flowing across Denver’s city limits? Well, the city has above average median household incomes ($58,000) and the lowest unemployment rate on this list at 2.3%. Denver is known for its open-minded liberalism. Residents have a reputation for strongly supporting civil rights and liberties. The city’s location makes it a top-notch place for skiers and snowboarders. The Rocky Mountains surround the city and are just a one-hour drive. It’s also a great place for nature lovers who like to explore the great outdoors. The only drawback to Denver is the cost of real estate. Prices are rising; the average home costs around $316,000.
2) Raleigh, North Carolina
As one third of what’s known as the Research Triangle, Raleigh has been, and continues to be, a big draw for college graduates seeking employment. Accompanied by Durham and Chapel Hill, the Triangle is now home to 170 business’s in the science and engineering field. The creation of this research hub was to provide jobs for those graduating from the area’s many well-respected universities. North Carolina prides itself on its southern hospitality. Many of its big cities, like Raleigh, feel more like friendly communities. Affordable housing, above average salaries, and lots of green spaces are other attractions of the area. Median household income is almost $57,000, with average home prices around $226,500. Crime in Raleigh has seen a significant drop since 2002, and is now below the national average. Raleigh’s nickname as “The Smithsonian of the South” is reflective of its many historical museums.
3) Boston, Massachusetts
Home of the world champion Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, Boston residents have plenty to cheer about. A large city of 673,000 people, Boston retains the feel of a smaller community. Everyone works together to make life pleasant in Bean Town. Boston sits on the Atlantic Ocean, and once served as a hugely important harbor for the colonial U.S. The harbor is also the site of the famous Boston Tea Party. Boston’s lower than average unemployment rate and higher than average salaries makes it one of the best places to conduct business in the U.S. Crime is higher than the national average, but has steadily decreased since 2007. The major sectors are finance, technology research and development, and tourism. Many of the dozens of post-secondary schools have prestigious reputations nationwide. The only ding in Boston’s shiny record? Higher than average real estate prices.
4) Seattle, Washington
A dominant city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a popular place to live for those into the cultural arts and nature. Surrounded by water and mountains, residents thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. Seattle is known nation-wide for its theater, opera, and dozens of art galleries and museums. The Boeing Company, Microsoft, and Amazon all call Seattle home. The economy depends on the aerospace industry, as well as manufacturing, technology, transportation, and forestry. Median household incomes are over $70,000, making the high price of real estate more affordable. Contrary to popular belief, Seattle doesn’t receive as much rain as you think. The city has more “rainy days”, but the amount of rain that falls is far lower than other cities like New York, Charleston, and Atlanta. Seattle’s weather rarely dips below 30 F in the winter and hovers in the 60s during the summer. Stay cool, Seattle!
5) Fayetteville, Arkansas
This Arkansas city is the fastest growing in the state, up nearly 14% from 2010. What’s so popular about Fayetteville? For starters, it has of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.9%. The median household income has been on an incline since 2000 and now holds steady at $39,500. Real estate is also very affordable, with the average home costing residents under $200,000. Overall, the cost of living index is below the national average. Add in mild winters and warm summers, and Fayetteville has a lot going for it. Sports fans will feel right at home cheering on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, along with the rest of the city. As with many southern states, football is life. Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville offers plenty of outdoor activities with multiple state parks and walking trails.
6) Washington, D.C.
America’s capital is becoming an increasingly more desirable place to live. Not only is it full of United States history and culture, it has also grown into a bustling metropolis overflowing with amenities. Historically important sites such as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are open to the public. D.C. also houses the highest concentration of art galleries and museums than any other city in the country. The cost of living and housing is higher than average, but high-paying salaries make up for that. Major industries include governmental work and a growing private sector. D.C. is the world’s highest consumer of technological equipment. Due to this, telecommunication companies and computer firms flourish. The median household income is around $75,000, putting D.C. well above the national average. Bonus: Witnessing the beautiful display of thousands of pink flowers during The Cherry Blossom Festival, held every April.
7) San Jose, California
With a population of over 1 million, San Jose is expanding every year. As the Silicon Valley capital, it’s one of the country’s hubs for high-tech industries. Tech companies employ almost one third of the city’s work force. The desirability to live in this city is due to growing employment opportunities and high salaries. The unemployment rate has been declining and reached 3% this year. Median household income is around $90,000, which is almost double the national average. Incomes need to be high to afford real estate. The average home price skyrocketed in the last 15 years, and is now estimated at over $700,000. San Jose is not all business and no play. The city hosts festivals like Silicon Valley Beer Week and is home to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. Don’t forget to check out San Pedro Square Market for the freshest, locally grown produce.
8) Austin, Texas
Anyone who appreciates music will undoubtedly love living in Austin. Austin benefits from being an entertainment capital. The self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World”, music performances can be seen anywhere from small bars to large venues literally every night of the week. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is one of the city’s claims to fame. Austin is open-minded and liberal, which is rare in a conservative state like Texas. That’s part of what gives Austin its unique vibe. Austin is brimming with schools, both private, public, and post-secondary, and test scores here are 29% higher than the national average. The median household income is over $56,000 and the average house costs $250,000. More tech companies are setting up shop in Austin, and the city has grown almost 3% between 2015 and 2016. Get in while you can!
9) Des Moines, Iowa
As the capital of Iowa, Des Moines is an affordable and comfortable place to raise a family. Real estate here is very reasonable. The average cost of a new home is $120,000. The median household income is below the national average at $49,000. However, when you consider the overall low cost of living index, this is a very realistic income. Des Moines has a lively downtown area complimented by cozy suburbs. There are a host of public, private, and post-secondary schools to choose from. The city of around 215,000 has all the amenities one could want. From art galleries, to golf courses, to farmers markets, to ski slopes, Des Moines is well suited to keep everyone happy. With over 600 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and running (or even snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the winter), Des Moines has become an active, vibrant city.
10) Colorado Springs, Colorado
The adventurous outdoorsman will love living in Colorado Springs. Hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and white-water rafting are the norm. The iconic Pikes Peak, the highest peak in the Rockies, is the backdrop to this ruggedly beautiful city. Hike, drive, or cycle your way to the summit. The military has a strong presence, employing one fifth of the city’s work force. Colorado Springs houses the U.S. Air Force Academy and the North American Air Defense Command, among others. The city is also a center for space research. The unemployment rate is 2.7%, well below the national average. Colorado Springs cares about its residents, supporting entrepreneurs with a program aimed at assisting start-up businesses. The median household income is $54,500 and the average home cost is $228,600. A lower than average cost of living index pushes CS even further up the list.
11) San Diego, California
It’s true San Diego is not the cheapest place on this list. It makes the cut due to its desirability factor. Residents here enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, access to dozens of beaches, and a sprawling, sunny coastline. The scenery here is gorgeous. Perhaps this is why San Diegans are known for being so outdoorsy and friendly. San Diego County houses over 3 million people, but there are plenty of beachside cities if you want to settle in a smaller neighborhood. The only drawback to living in San Diego is the cost of real estate. On average, a new home runs around $500,000. Median household incomes are comfortably above the national average at over $64,000. Crime in San Diego has decreased considerably since 2008, and is now lower than the national average. If you can afford it, San Diego is a great place to be.