What I'm about to say has the potential to displease you: You may not reside in one of the 50 best cities in the United States to live in. I know — you love where you live, and you feel wholeheartedly that it is the greatest place to grow roots. And, hey, who knows? Depending on where it is you call home, your city might just have made it on the new list compiled by 24/7 Wall St. after poring over comprehensive data on the 550 U.S. cities with populations of 65,000 or more.
But, alas, it may not have. Don't worry, though — you aren't alone if that proves to be the case. Although a city in my greater metropolitan area made the cut, my zip code did not. Remember that scene in Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw meets a cute sailor from New Orleans? He talks a little trash about Bradshaw's beloved Manhattan, at which point she walked away, musing, "If Louis was right and you only get one great love, New York may just be mine... and I can't have nobody talking sh*t about my boyfriend." That basically sums up how I feel about my city of Charleston, South Carolina. However, 24/7's methodology takes into account many factors which play an important part in long-term livability, such as the quality of the schools, crime rates, the median house price, the job market, and more. This is perhaps why you won't see Charleston on the list. Or any other densely-populated U.S. city, for that matter, says Elise Gould, senior economist with nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) — nearly all big cities by population have corresponding crime rates that exclude them from the running.
Of the 50 cities that did rise to the top, nearly half have unemployment rates below the national average. They also boast unprecedented job growth, affordable housing, and the ability to live safely. For someone looking to make a move or seeking a solid place to start a family, this information could prove invaluable. So, without further ado, let's explore the the top five cities that made 24/7 Wall St.'s list of places you definitely want to consider transplanting to (if you haven't already). Head here to see the complete ranking of all 50.
5. Eagan, Minnesota
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With just over 66,000 people, Eagan is just barely large enough to qualify for consideration. But what it lacks in population, it makes up for elsewhere. Because Eagan is situated across the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers from Minneapolis and St. Paul, residents need not travel more than 20 miles to get to a major metropolitan area. And with only 24 violent crimes reported last year, this charming city has the sixth lowest violent crime rate of any city in the country. Plus, only 3.3 percent of the workforce is unemployed, giving the city a lower rate than all but 10 American cities. Fun fact not in the report? This is an outdoorsy city — last year, residents logged more than 2 million hours taking part in parks and recreations programs.
4. Centennial, Colorado
Given that the median household income in Centennial is more than $91,00 annually, it's not much of a surprise less than five percent of residents live below the poverty line (the national average is 12 percent). This could be attributed to the city's above average education level — more than half of its inhabitants have at least a Bachelor's degree, and standardized test scores come in at around six percent higher than the rest of the state. Fun fact not in the report? A group of residents came to the decision to officially incorporate the city in 1998 over breakfast at a local pancake house.
3. Johns Creek, Georgia
A-ha! I knew there had to be at least one Southern city in the top five, although I'm a bit surprised it's in Georgia since the state tends to fare worse socially and economically than many. However, Johns Creek residents benefit from high incomes (nearly $100,000), low poverty levels (4.5 percent compared to the national average of 15.5 percent), high levels of education (nearly 70 percent boast Bachelor's degrees), and lots o' leisure outlets like restaurants, libraries, an outdoor theater, an orchestra, and more. Fun fact not in the report? Johns Creek's history dates back to the early 1800s, when it served as a meeting ground between the rival Cherokee and Creek People.
2. Danbury, Connecticut
There are many reasons Danbury makes the top five — particularly the city's abundance of leisure amenities. In addition to around 10 nature parks, Danbury boasts 57 marinas and many cultural centers. I lived just down the road in Mystic, Connecticut for a few years, and I can certainly attest to the fact that the area is truly beautiful. But, as with most things in life, there is a catch. This city is also one of the most expensive areas to live in the nation, with the cost of living being nearly 31 percent higher than the national average. While the annual median income rings in just below the average at $69,394, the median home value hovers at $283,400. Fun fact not in the report? The city boasts its own sports teams: The Danbury Westerners (baseball) and the Danbury Whalers (hockey).
1. Meridian, Idaho
I'm going to be totally honest here — I would not have guessed that a city in Idaho would top the list of best places to live in the country. But, you know, that's why these studies are so important! Now I know that, should I ever decide to leave my beloved Charleston, I should migrate to Meridian. There, which is just outside of Boise, I would enjoy many perks. For one, I'd be safe, seeing that only 80 violent crimes per 100,000 were reported in Meridian last year. Also, unemployment is low, jobs are increasing exponentially, housing is relatively affordable and, well, it's basically the bee's knees. Fun fact not in the report? The city recently unveiled a state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Center featuring four classrooms, a defensive tactics mat room, simulators to create real life situations, a K-9 agility course and a mobile command post.