In this article we will take a look at the 30 best places to live in the U.S. for quality of life. You can skip our detailed analysis of these places and go directly to the 5 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life.
The United States is one of the biggest countries in the world, known for its exceptional lifestyle, modern culture, and vast opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. With a GDP per capita of $63,051 in 2020, the country is one of the most sought after places to settle in. Perhaps what attracts most people towards the US is its quality of life. The US performs very well in standard of living measures compared to other countries.
According to the OECD’s Better Life Index, the country ranks first in housing, and above the world average in income, health status, education and skills, jobs and earnings, security, and environmental quality. About 70% of people aged 15 to 64 in the United States have a paid job while 91% of all adults have completed their upper secondary education. Overall, Americans are more satisfied with their quality of life than the world on average.
However, being a vast country with 50 states and over 384 metropolitan cities, there is a lot of variation in the quality of life of the residents living across the nation. Factors such as affordable housing, access to well-paying jobs, quality education and healthcare facilities, and a low cost of living play a vital role in the standard of living of individuals. All these factors must be taken into consideration before deciding where you can settle down. Across the 30,000 cities, towns, and villages in the US, these factors can vary considerably which directly influence the lives of the local residents.
It is important to note that quality of life can be a very subjective concept as different people are looking for different factors when deciding where to stay and what makes them happy. However, certain aspects such as the affordability, healthcare infrastructure, public transit systems, educational system, crime rates, and average household income are the factors that are important in determining the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
Cities like Austin, Boulder, Denver, and Arlington boast high median household incomes and a strong job market that attract young professionals looking to advance their careers. While other cities like Green Bay, Philadelphia, Lancaster and Raleigh are experiencing a high population growth rate due to their low costs of living, other areas like San Jose, Seattle, and Portland are becoming tech hubs for technological giants such as Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) which are bringing in many job opportunities.
If you are thinking to move to a new city, now might be the right time to make this change. As the coronavirus crisis fueled the work from home trends, small and large companies like Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) are allowing their workers to permanently work from home. This trend would help young workers who want don’t want to leave their job but also plan to move to a new city of their choice.
With this context in mind, let’s start our list of best places to live in the U.S. for quality of life.
Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life
30. Batesville, Arkansas
Median Household Income: $42,143
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Batesville is one of the oldest cities in Arkansas with roots that go as far back as 1804. With its rich history and culture, the city offers many attractions in the area including art galleries, antique stores, an annual film festival and the Batesville Motor Speedway. Batesville has landed a spot in the list of best places to live in the U.S. for quality of life mainly due to its affordability. Most residents in the city pay less than a $1000 in property taxes and the average annual housing costs are only $7,500 which is less than the median costs nationwide. Additionally, goods and services are also 16% less expensive than the national average making it one of the best places to live in the US.
29. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Median Household Income: $42,632
Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
Lancaster is a city that balances natural and commercial spaces which make it one of the most unique places in the country. It is an affordable city with food, healthcare, and other living expenses well below the national average. The average annual salary in the city is reported to be $44,940. The place also scores 6th in the quality-of-life index out of 150 for its proximity to quality healthcare services. The best part about Lancaster is that its residents are only a short drive away from many major cities which makes it an ideal place to settle down.
Lancaster ranks at number 29 in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
28. Cincinnati, Ohio
Population: 2.13 million
Median Household Income: $43,585
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Cincinnati is located along the banks of the Ohio river and has undergone tremendous changes during the past ten years. The city is supported by a strong healthcare system which is ranked 3rd in quality of healthcare list by Robert Half. It has declining crime rates with a flourishing downtown area where residents can enjoy the food and art scene. The city’s education system is also strong with over 540 public schools and 211 private schools located in the region. The city has reported a college readiness score of 7 out of 10 which is one of the best in the country.
Cincinnati ranks 28th in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
27. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Population: 1.57 million
Median Household Income: $46,116
Unemployment Rate: 7.3%
Philadelphia is one of the best places to live in the US due to its affordable housing, immense job opportunities in the education and healthcare industries, top-rated universities, and much more. It is an ideal place for people who want to live on the East Coast but can’t afford New York or Washington prices. Philadelphia has a cost of living that is 4% below the country’s average which makes it an ideal place for college students, and young professionals. It hosts major employers like Comcast, Trinity Health, and University of Pennsylvania. There is an incredible public transit system in the city making commute for residents much easier. Moreover, there are over 115 colleges and universities located in the area which makes the city one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
26. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Median Household Income: $49,251
Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
Green Bay has landed a spot in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life due to its low crime rate and affordability. The metro area is also highly ranked for its proximity to quality health care services. With an unemployment rate of only 4.9%, the average annual salary in the area is approximately $45,570. The average morning commute in this Wisconsin city is just 20 minutes and the cost of living in the area is 14% less than the national average. The housing prices and household income are lower than the national average.
25. Chicago, Illinois
Population: 2.71 million
Median Household Income: $57,238
Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
Also known as the Windy City, Chicago is the third-largest city in the US. It is an ideal place to live for people who want to live in a world-class metropolitan area with a strong culture and Midwest values. Compared to the East and West Coast, Chicago has a relatively cheaper housing market in North America. It is also a surprisingly affordable metro city as compared to New York or LA. The city has a solid healthcare industry worth $69.7 billion. With a high population of over 2.71 million, the city has long rush hours which can make for a challenging commute. However, the city’s transit authority is well established and can get you to any corner within minutes. The average annual salary in the city is approximately $72,000 which is above the national average. However, the violent crime rate in Chicago is relatively higher with 943 incidents per 100,000 residents.
Overall, the city has a good public transit system, affordable housing and amenities, and great entertainment for residents to enjoy making Chicago one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
24. Phoenix, Arizona
Population: 4.7 million
Median Household Income: $57,957
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Phoenix has ranked first in the quality-of-life index in a report by Robert Half. The city is one of the largest cities in the Southwest and has a strong education system that brings people from all over the country. There has been a recent surge in population growth in the area due to a strong job market in the IT and energy industries with companies such as General Motors and Asurion located in the region. The city is characterized by a low crime rate, an average household income of at least $57,000 and a rich culture that makes it one of the best places to live in the US. If you want to move to Arizona and also want to hunt for a job, major companies including Freeport-McMoRan Inc and PetSmart have offices in the city.
If you a tech worker, there are hundreds of startups in the city that allow you to work remotely, following the footsteps of major companies like Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG).
23. Nashville, Tennessee
Median Household Income: $59,828
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and is one of the biggest cities in the state in terms of population. It is home to a blossoming job market with several healthcare giants and startups. Thousands of resident’s work in healthcare at the city’s large hospitals and research centers, small startups, and business accelerator programs. Nashville has emerged as a hub for small businesses which are mostly owned by women and millennials. It is also a relatively affordable city compared to other major metropolitan areas, although its housing market is becoming increasingly competitive. The average annual salary in the city is approximately $47,110. Overall, Nashville has a high standard of living due to its inexpensiveness. There are several great restaurants and entertainment activities available throughout the city with moderate temperatures all year long making it an ideal place to settle down.
Nashville ranks 23rd in Insider’s Monkey list of the 30 best places to live in the U.S for quality of life.
22. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Median Household Income: $63,590
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Minneapolis is a new booming city which has recently experienced a real estate rush fueled by the high rate of population growth. The city has an award-winning park network and an envious bike trail system with plenty of recreational activities available for its residents. Minneapolis has relatively affordable homes and a thriving local economy with big firms such as Target and 3M creating plenty of job opportunities. Overall, the city is more accessible than larger metropolitan cities at an affordable cost of living making it one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
21. Madison, Wisconsin
Median Household Income: $64,101
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Madison is not a very big city, but it has recently started transforming into a tech hub with healthcare and IT giants and research centers are creating big job opportunities which is attracting more people towards the city with an unemployment rate of only 3.8%. The city is also attracting millennial homeowners as its housing prices are relatively affordable. According to the 2020-21 US News and World Report ranking, Madison ranked number 10 in the safest place to live in the US list.
It was also named as the greenest city in America with high air quality and a ratio of 12.7 parks per 10,000 residents which is the highest number for any city. Madison is one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life and the city’s popularity is being boosted by proximity of good educational institutes and large private-sector companies offering good jobs. If you want to move to the city, you can also work remotely as hundreds of companies, including Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), are announcing permanent work from home policies in the US.
20. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Median Household Income: $65,331
Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Colorado Springs has plenty to offer including, good quality of life, low living costs, and a variety of recreation and entertainment options. The city has gained popularity amongst families with children because of one of the best school systems in the state. Moreover, two of the best colleges in Colorado have campuses in Colorado Springs. The city also consistently ranks on the lists of cities with the cleanest air. Another advantage of living in Colorado is its affordability with lower than the state average housing prices. Construction in the city is on the rise with new residences emerging along with parks, schools, hospitals, and other cultural attractions.
Colorado Springs has the number 20 spot in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
19. Boulder, Colorado
Median Household Income: $66,117
Unemployment Rate: 6.9%
Boulder has earned a top spot in the list of the 30 best places to live in the U.S for quality of life due to its abundance of opportunities, natural beauty, thriving economy, and lively community. The city has an impressive biking network and a restaurant scene that is second to none. Boulder, Colorado, has also ranked third on Gallup’s National Health and Well-Being Index.
The average annual salary in the city is approximately $64,690. The residents are well educated, and its schools are consistently ranked amongst the best in the state. Boulder has also been named as one of the healthiest places to live in due to the people’s general preference of organic products.
18. Denver, Colorado
Median Household Income: $68,377
Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
Denver is a mid-sized metropolitan area located near the mountains which has plenty of job opportunities and several strategic developments over the last decade which have ensured the maintenance of a good quality in life in the area. The city’s parks and walkability has kept pace with the expanding population which grew by 20% in the last decade. Denver also had an efficient rail service for easy daily commutes and a plethora of megaprojects such as skyscrapers that have created a more urban landscape. Major tech companies including the likes of Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) have offices in Denver.
The major industries in Denver include healthcare, financial services, IT, energy, and aerospace. Denver has a strikingly low crime rate of 165.7 incidents per 100,000 people which is amongst the lowest in the country. The average household income in the area is about $68,000.
Denver is ranked 18th in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
17. Boston, Massachusetts
Median Household Income: $71,834
Unemployment Rate: 7.1%
Boston has been ranked as the state capital with the highest quality of life in the U.S according to a study by WalletHub. The city has a diverse group of residents from college graduates to retirees, and from musicians to engineers alike. It is a city with a rich history and is known for its team spirit for the most famous baseball and foot ball teams, the Red Sox, and the Patriots.
Boston is also a center of higher education with some of the top universities in the world located here including Harvard and MIT. Moreover, the healthcare amenities in the city are numerous. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has listed 15 acute care hospitals in Boston. The average salary in the city is approximately $79,000 which is above the national average. However, the city is known to have relatively high living expenses, especially in the housing market.
Boston ranks 17th in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
16. Portland, Oregon
Median Household Income: $73,097
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Portland, the largest city in Oregon, has earned a spot in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life list. It has a strong job market with a solid presence of the tech industry thanks to companies like HP, Epson, Xerox, and Intel. Due to the large number of tech companies in the area, Portland is also referred to as the Silicon Forest.
The average annual salary in the city is reported to be $51,260. Moreover, the public transportation system in Portland is also well established with the MAX light rail spanning the entire city and running every 15 minutes making the commutes of residents much easier. Portland also ranks 22nd on the list in the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.
15. Santa Barbara, California
Median Household Income: $74,798
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Santa Barbara is a city located on the coast of California and is mostly known for its beautiful beaches and exciting nightlife. It is a popular tourist destination and has a high concentration of restaurants, hotels, museums, and entertainment opportunities for residents to enjoy. Apart from activities, the city has a highly rated public school district with several reputable institutions. The median cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, but so are the median household incomes. The city also has a strong healthcare system with more than 7 big hospitals. Santa Barbara ranked 4th out of 150 for the most expensive places to live, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Santa Barbara ranks at number 15 in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
14. Raleigh, North Carolina
Median Household Income: $75,165
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Raleigh is the largest city in the Research Triangle and has recently experienced a boom due to its high-tech economy. The city has made a massive shift as a tech center which has lead to a procession of new high-end skyscrapers and hotels. $1 billion of construction activity has occurred in Raleigh in the past 4 years which has brought several new businesses and job opportunities to the emerging city. It has also ranked 2nd on the Markets to Watch list for 2020.
It is a great location for people looking to start a new business with relatively affordable cost of living and a low crime rate. If you are a tech worker, you can also work from home for companies like Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) while living in the city.
13. San Diego, California
Population: 1.41 million
Median Household Income: $79,673
Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
The San Diego metro area is known for its sunny days and pristine beaches. But the city is much more than that. According to WalletHub, San Diego ranks amongst the top 10 cities in US for education quality and health facilities. The city has the second lowest crime rate making it one of the safest large cities in the country. The healthcare system in the area is also one of the best in the nation with over 26 accredited hospitals which have more than 6600 beds available. San Diego also ranked 11th for college readiness amongst high school graduates based on data from Best High schools ranking. The average annual salary in the area was reported to be $58,090.
12. Austin, Texas
Median Household Income: $80,954
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Austin, the capital of the state of Texas, is an inland city which borders the Hill Country region. It is home to the top-rated University of Texas flagship campus, and is known for its live-music scene, cultural institutions, and outdoor spaces. The city plays host to some of the country’s biggest music and cultural festivals that attract thousands of people each year. Apart from having an eclectic nightlife, an exciting food scene, and plenty of entertainment options for its residents, Austin is chosen as one of the best places to live in the U.S due to its high median pay and low cost of living than the national average.
According to PayScale, the average annual salary in Austin is $72,000. There is also a burgeoning start-up scene in the city which earned it a spot in the top areas for venture capital investment in the US. With a highly educated workforce, increasing job opportunities, and a lower than national average unemployment rate, Austin has earned the number 12 spot in the best places to live in the U.S for quality of life.
Hundreds of startups and VCs, backed by big companies like Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), are moving to Texas due to its low costs and quality of life.
11. Seattle, Washington
Median Household Income: $93,481
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Seattle has consistently ranked amongst the top 10 places to live in the US by U.S News due to a number of reasons. Not only is the city sandwiched between water, mountains, and evergreen forests, but it is also a very environmentally friendly city. Residents earn an above average income with the average annual salary being $81000 in the city. Job opportunities in Seattle are mostly found in the tech, healthcare, and maritime industries. Companies like Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) have offices in the city.
Furthermore, the city has been ranked as the 10th best hospital city in the nation by Medbelle due to its strong healthcare infrastructure. Overall, the cost of living in Seattle is almost twice as expensive as the US average making it an expensive city to live in. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hourly wages and yearly salaries in Seattle are both above national averages. The city is also ranked as the top city in the US for technology jobs by Forbes with Microsoft and Forbes leading the way. Seattle also hosts over 500 public and private educational institutions making it one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
10. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Median Household Income: $95,404
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Cambridge is one of the best small cities in the US with a high quality of life and excellent city services. The city enjoys the healthcare and educational resources of the state of Boston. Residents in Cambridge also enjoy the lowest property taxes in the state; however, the greatest downside is the high costs of housing. However, there are several types of housing available to residents from studio apartments to giant mansions. The city also has an excellent network of transport including the Red Line subway and several bus lines. It is also known as a college town with a high concentration of top-rated schools, restaurants, museums, and other entertainment options. The average salary in Cambridge is $89,000 according to PayScale.
Cambridge ranks 10th in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life list.
9. Lake Oswego, Oregon
Median Household Income: $100,461
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Lake Oswego is located in Clackamas County and is one of the best places to live in Oregon. Although its cost of living is 7.4% higher than the national average, its median household income is well over $100,000. Moreover, Lake Oswego is a top-rated school district which serves around 7000 students with a ratio of 23 students per instructor. Only 4.5% of residents in the city live below the poverty line. Lake Oswego also enjoys a relatively lower crime rate of only 50.6 incidents per 100,000 people which makes it one of the best places to live in the US.
8. Hanover, New Hampshire
Median Household Income: $103,558
Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
Hanover is one of the few towns located in the Northeastern U.S that has relatively higher cost of living in the North East. Goods and services in this city are also relatively expensive than they are throughout the country on average, but this high cost of living is offset by the above average median household incomes of over $103,000 and a low unemployment rate of only 2.9%. Hanover offers its residents a dense suburban feel and most residents own their homes. Residents also benefit from a range of recreational and cultural activities with a higher-than-average per capita concentration of parks, gyms, restaurants, libraries, and movie theatres etc. 40% of Hanover residents commute to work by walking. The town also has an active community experience due to the presence of Dartmouth College.
Hanover ranks at number 8 in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life.
7. Naples, Florida
Median Household Income: $107,013
Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Naples is located in the South Florida metro area and has landed a top spot in the 30 best places to live in the US for quality of life. With its pristine beaches and sprawling golf courses, the city has become a preferred retirement spot for the wealthy. The city has a low crime rate which is almost 90% lower than the Florida average making it a safe place for residents. It is also a surprisingly affordable place to live although housing prices may be higher than other states. Residents can also access quality healthcare facilities throughout the city making it an ideal place to live in.
6. The Woodlands, Texas
Median Household Income: $109,605
Unemployment Rate: 2%
The Woodlands is located 45km north of Houston and is a master-planned community with a population of over 113,000 residents. This city has been named as one of the best cities in the US due to its strong education sector, a low crime rate, and low cost of living. It is a relatively wealthy area with the average income being approximately $109,605. This may be why residents can afford housing as home values are over 131% higher than the average rate in Texas.
The school test scores are 92% higher than the US average reflecting the good quality of education in the area. The area has only a 2% rate of unemployment which means that residents enjoy plenty of job opportunities making the Woodlands one of the best places to live in the US for quality of life.
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Disclosure: None. 30 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life is originally published on Insider Monkey.