Best place to live in every state
What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?
Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2020 rankings. Niche ranks places to live based on many factors, including the cost of living, educational attainment, housing, and public schools.
Many cities on the list are suburbs experiencing growth thanks to rapid improvements in their metropolitan areas, whether it’s the creation of new rail systems or a megacorporation moving in. Other entries include planned communities or older cities that have been revamped with grassroots efforts focusing on greener ways of living, drawing in new businesses, or increased devotion to the arts. Towns with large colleges regularly appear, as prestigious universities not only employ thousands of workers but provide a rich amount of recreation and educational offerings for families.
There are a few well-known locales on the list. For example, a New Jersey college town steeped in Ivy League tradition offers a small-town vibe with historic architecture. Idaho’s entry proves the state is about more than just potato production, and one town in Kansas takes the title of “smartest” town in America. Then, of course, there’s the town that owes its affluence to Walmart, and the Southern city that is the proud home of the Trash Pandas.
Each slide includes the city’s population, median home value, median rent, and median household income. More details on Niche’s methodology can be found here. Whether you’re thinking of relocation or are big on hometown pride, click through to find the best place to live in every state.
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- Population: 48,275
- Median home value: $245,000 (70% own)
- Median rent: $887 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $89,522
In April, Madison, Alabama, will become the home of a new minor league baseball team with arguably one of the most eccentric names in sports: the Trash Pandas. The city is building a new stadium to welcome the Trash Pandas (slang for raccoon), and if that’s not appealing enough, Madison also has top-ranked schools, borders the city of Huntsville, and offers several small business incentives.
[Pictured: Hunstville, Alabama, which neighbors Madison.]
- Population: 13,709
- Median home value: $244,100 (61% own)
- Median rent: $1,329 (39% rent)
- Median household income: $89,072
This small suburb of Fairbanks is the best place to live in Alaska. It’s home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an international research center. Its proximity to Fairbanks puts it close to museums like the Museum of the North and the Pioneer Park theme park. There are also hiking trails and plenty of restaurants. College is close enough to enjoy these perks, but being a suburb, it offers residents more open space.
Arizona: Catalina Foothills
- Population: 50,426
- Median home value: $426,400 (73% own)
- Median rent: $1,025 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $85,059
Catalina Foothills, Arizona, is surrounded by the picturesque Santa Catalina mountains, luxury shopping, resorts, and museums. Nearby, the University of Arizona has a notable presence, including its operation of Biosphere2. With these resources nearby, Catalina Foothills is one of Arizona’s most-affluent locales.
- Population: 46,857
- Median home value: $221,400 (55% own)
- Median rent: $918 (45% rent)
- Median household income: $81,934
Bentonville, Arkansas, could also be called Walmartville. The city, in the northwest corner of the state, is the home of Walmart, a company that has left its stamp on the town (just check out the Walmart Museum). If the history of retail isn’t your bag, Bentonville also houses the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is home to craft fairs, and is close to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.
California: Santa Monica
- Population: 92,078
- Median home value: $1,242,100 (29% own)
- Median rent: $1,734 (71% rent)
- Median household income: $93,865
California is packed with great places to live, but Santa Monica is taking home the gold. This small beach community in Los Angeles is home to the rich and famous, who have settled here for its direct beach access, iconic pier, A-list restaurants on Montana Avenue, and beautiful real estate.
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Colorado: Holly Hills
- Population: 2,909
- Median home value: $426,500 (93% own)
- Median rent: $2,634 (7% rent)
- Median household income: $136,176
Between Denver and the Denver Tech Center sits Holly Hills, a neighborhood in Colorado that takes the title of best place to live in the state. This quiet suburb of Denver is just 15 minutes outside the vibrant, cultural city, putting it within 15 minutes of attractions like the Denver Botanic Gardens, museums, restaurants, and the naturally-beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails around the city.
Connecticut: West Hartford
- Population: 63,127
- Median home value: $329,000 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,297 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $99,280
Aficionados of fall foliage can find some of nature’s best colors in the West Hartford Reservoirs. Even outside of the fall months, this city is becoming a favorite place to live because of its farmers markets, museums, and nearly centuries-old churches. The University of Hartford and the University of Saint Joseph both have campuses in town.
Delaware: Pike Creek
- Population: 8,312
- Median home value: $338,200 (86% own)
- Median rent: $1,748 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $114,865
Pike Creek, Delaware, offers plenty for outdoor lovers with nearby White Clay Creek State Park. The park offers more than 3,600 acres of hiking trails, creeks, and forest. It's part of the National Park Service's National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, as well. There is also Carousel Park, which has ponds, a lake, and miles of walking trails.
- Population: 13,266
- Median home value: $371,300 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,689 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $115,250
Nocatee, Florida, is a master-planned community south of Jacksonville. The coastal community has carefully-designed neighborhoods featuring everything from parks and recreation to shopping, restaurants, and more. Nocatee is located in Ponte Vedra, putting it at the doorstep of golf courses, beaches, and the airports of Jacksonville.
- Population: 23,054
- Median home value: $466,800 (66% own)
- Median rent: $927 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $93,039
Decatur offers easy travel into Atlanta via its train stations and U.S. 78. Stone Mountain is a short drive away, while inside the city limits are small higher-education institutions like Agnes Scott College and Columbia Theological Seminary. Recreation options include visits to the Decatur Ghost Tour and the Decatur Artway.
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