Best places to live in America
Pristine beaches along the Pacific Ocean, a stellar school system, outdoor ice rinks galore, safe neighborhoods, or golf courses where a sports legend crafted his game: Depending on your priorities, any of these might be deciding factors in choosing the best place to live in America.
For example, did you know there’s a town in Minnesota where 11 students achieved perfect ACT scores in the same year? If top-level schools aren’t a consideration, what would you think about living in the city that served as the setting for some of Generation X’s most revered teen movies? Too dated for you? Well, how about the Ohio town credited with shaping platinum-selling music artist and actor Kid Cudi?
Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2019 rankings. Only towns and cities with populations over 15,000 were considered. Niche ranks places to live based on many factors, including the cost of living, educational attainment, housing, and public schools. Each slide includes the total population, median home value, median rent, and median household income. Check out the details of Niche’s methodology.
On the list, there’s a mix of college towns, suburbs, and cities that have received sudden boosts in population and economics thanks to a major corporation moving within their boundaries. Some states have multiple entries (for those feeling like their home state was snubbed, be on the lookout for Stacker’s ranking of the "Best places to live in every state"). All in all, we’ve put together a diverse mix of small-town America and bustling, perhaps soon-to-be metropolises that offer a variety of recreational, educational, and historic aspects.
Click through to find out if your hometown—or a place you may have been scouting for a potential move—made the top 50 places to live in the United States.
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#50. Madison, Alabama
- Population: 47,079
- Median home value: $239,400 (70% own)
- Median rent: $879 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $92,197
With several dog parks and playgrounds, Madison, Alabama, offers recreational options for kids or canines. Next spring, a new minor league baseball team will play in town. If sports aren’t your cup of tea, Madison also boasts an Ancient Wars Museum.
#49. Upper Arlington, Ohio
- Population: 34,943
- Median home value: $357,200 (80% own)
- Median rent: $1,169 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $110,397
The Scioto Country Club in Upper Arlington was instrumental in shaping the golf game of Jack Nicklaus. Today, other parks in town bear the legendary golfer’s name. In 1916, the town became a National Guard training site, in case troops were deployed at the U.S.-Mexico border.
#48. Manhattan Beach, California
- Population: 35,698
- Median home value: $1,694,900 (69% own)
- Median rent: $2,393 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $148,899
This coastal city along the Pacific Ocean has sun, sand, and draws a wide range of professional sports interests. The Manhattan Beach stop on the AVP tour is one of professional volleyball’s biggest events, while several members of the Los Angeles Kings live in town. The city’s Mira Costa High School is regarded academically as one of the best in the nation, and Los Angeles International Airport is only three miles north.
#47. Columbia, Maryland
- Population: 103,170
- Median home value: $367,600 (67% own)
- Median rent: $1,630 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $103,707
Despite only being around 50 years old, this planned community that attracts commuters to Washington D.C. and Baltimore has good schools and affordable home prices. The Howard County Library, which has been recognized as one of the nation’s best, has notable branches in Columbia. The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a trendy place to catch live music.
#46. Eden Prairie, Minnesota
- Population: 63,660
- Median home value: $334,000 (73% own)
- Median rent: $1,289 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $103,426
When you think of Minnesota’s climate, snow and cold temperatures probably pop into your mind, but Eden Prairie has proven to be a good site for gardens and outdoor markets. This suburb of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) has a small airport, a skate plaza, and several ice skating options. The local schools have quite a reputation, too. In 2017, 11 students had perfect ACT scores.
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#45. Evanston, Illinois
- Population: 75,557
- Median home value: $367,300 (56% own)
- Median rent: $1,296 (44% rent)
- Median household income: $74,901
Evanston is the home of Northwestern University, located just north of Chicago. University employees often settle nearby and director John Hughes picked Evanston as the bucolic setting for many of his 1980s coming-of-age films. The city also boasts an arboretum and a lighthouse.
#44. Solon, Ohio
- Population: 23,068
- Median home value: $274,400 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,195 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $99,050
This Cleveland suburb has top-rated schools. Solon High School was named to Newsweek’s Top STEM High School list and regularly has a large percentage of students taking Advanced Placement exams. Rapper Kid Cudi spent part of his youth in Solon.
#43. Mason, Ohio
- Population: 32,317
- Median home value: $235,000 (81% own)
- Median rent: $1,113 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $93,872
Located outside Cincinnati, Mason might be best known for the Kings Island amusement park. Each summer, Mason hosts one of the key tune-up tennis tournaments for the U.S. Open. Procter & Gamble is the largest employer in the city.
#42. Ellicott City, Maryland
- Population: 71,737
- Median home value: $522,700 (75% own)
- Median rent: $1,611 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $124,059
This city’s role in American railroad history is on display at the Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum. Near Baltimore, Ellicott City is known for its bed and breakfasts, brewing companies, and wineries. For decades, Ellicott City has been home to a large Korean American population.
#41. Franklin Farm, Virginia
- Population: 19,588
- Median home value: $610,200 (92% own)
- Median rent: $2,394 (8% rent)
- Median household income: $169,549
Described by The Washington Post as a small town wrapped inside a large suburb, Franklin Farm is rich in Colonial- and Victorian-style houses that draw families looking to be near Washington D.C. Dulles International Airport is only about seven miles from the town border, and Franklin Farm has an abundance of trails, fishing ponds, tennis courts, and public swimming areas.
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