Field Guide to the Best Places to Live
(Updated March 2016)
What makes a location the best place to live, work or retire? We've gathered the top lists into one spot to help you determine just that. Find out which cities are ranked as the safest to live in, which cities have the best job opportunities, which cities are more family-friendly, and much more in this field guide. (D. McCormick, Budget & Operations Manager)
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The Best Places to Live
Top 100 Best Places to Live, (Livability, 2016). — More than 2,000 cities were ranked, so every city on this list is in the top 5 percent of livable communities in the U.S. Spend some time getting to know them, and when it comes time for your next move, maybe you'll think small.
The 5 Best Cities for Starting Over, (WiseBread, Feb. 24, 2016). — The number one reason people push for getting a fresh start in a new city is economic opportunity — with 44% of respondents citing a new job or business endeavor as their primary motivation, according to Pew Research report.
2015's Best & Worst Large Cities to Live In, (WalletHub). - Everyone has a natural habitat. Some of us prefer the slow pace and bucolic setting of the countryside. Others are drawn to the part-rural, part-urban charm of suburbs. But more and more clusters of people are falling in love with the energetic pulse of the large metropolis.
America's 50 Best Cities to Live In, (USA Today, Nov. 5, 2015). - A host of factors play an important role in the decision where to move, including the quality of schools, the strength of the local economy and job market, safety, culture, and even climate. Americans facing this decision have much to consider.
The 15 Best Places to Live in the United States, (The Street, Sept. 20, 2015). - Looking for a change of scenery? Is your current city too expensive, isolated, or even boring? Livability surveyed 2,000 American adults about what qualities they believe are important in the communities in which they live and the ones to which they might one day consider moving.
The best places to live in America: How college towns perfected the city, (The Street, Sept. 19, 2015). - They're high-tech magnets with street life, culture and lots of energy. No wonder the new "college city" is so hot.
We've Found the Best of the Best Cities to Live In, (realtor.com®, Sept. 3, 2015).
The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S., 2015, (Outside Online, Aug. 18, 2015). – Here are the 16 finalists—the places you say are the top spots in the country to work, run, eat, sail, paddle, drink, ride, and climb.
The 10 Best Places to Live Now, (Men's Journal, Mar. 12, 2015). – Start a business, surf on your lunch break, buy your dream home — here are 10 cities and towns where life is good.
The 10 best downtowns in the U.S., (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 6, 2015). — What qualities make up a vibrant downtown? According to a recent list of the best downtowns in America by Livibility.com, high-performing downtowns "foster creativity, inclusion and innovation" and should offer a mix of architecture, art, a solid variety of attractions, and a chance for people of all walks of life to connect.
Best Places to Live: Top-Earning Towns, (Money Magazine, Sept. 19, 2014). — It’s still a tough job market, but these 25 counties can make it a lot easier to find work and a great place to live.
Best United States Places to Live in: Top 20 for 2014:, (Examiner, Dec. 30, 2013). — Considering buying a house in 2014? Forbes magazine has gathered the data to point you in the right directions for considering your home purchase.
Best Places to Live 2013: The Boom is Back!, (Boston Magazine, Mar. 2013).
Best 100 Places to Live, (Money Magazine, 2015). — The 50 best small cities in the country, looking for great jobs, strong economies, affordable homes, excellent schools, and much more.
Here are the Best Places to Live – in 2032, (US News, Aug. 7, 2012).
The best cities to live car-free in America, (MSNBC, Nov. 6, 2011).
Best of the Best Top 10 Cities: Green Living, Health, Air Quality and Technology, (Scientific American, Aug. 22, 2011). — Lists ranking U.S. cities on aspects of green living, pollution, health and technology.
The Best Affordable Places to Live
2016 Best Affordable Places to Live, (Livability, Feb. 10, 2016). — These are not the least expensive places to live in America. There are places where you can buy a home for pocket change, and whole towns that cost less than a home in Palo Alto, Calif. But if you ask the question “Would you want to live there?”, the answer is likely “No.” Instead, this is a list of affordable cities you’d actually want to live in.
The 10 Best Affordable Places to Live, (The Street, Feb. 5, 2016). - Is your current city too expensive? If so, you may want to consider moving to a place where you can get more value for your dollar.
The 15 Most Affordable Places to Live in America, (CBS News, Sept. 22, 2015). - It's not just housing costs that are affordable in many of these middle-class cities. Other fixed expenses, such as commuting costs and utility bills, contribute to the city's affordability.
The 10 Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S., (Huffington Post, Sept. 16, 2015). - Wanna live somewhere cheap? One particular region has your back.
The 7 Best Affordable Cities to Start a Family, (Wise Bread, Apr. 29, 2015). — Looking to start a family? Many major metro areas can be tough choices, given their high cost of living, crime statistics, and public school quality. This article digs a little deeper to uncover seven U.S. metro areas that offer the best environments for starting a family.
America’s Most Affordable Cities in 2015, (Forbes, Mar. 12, 2015).
Top Five Most Affordable US Metropolitan Cities to Live In, (International Business Times, Nov. 14, 2014). — The report takes an annual look at how the cost of buying a home stacks up against income and expenses in the nation’s metropolitan areas.
10 Cheapest Cities You’ll Want to Live In, (Kiplinger, Sept. 2014). — The cheapest places to live aren’t necessarily the best places to live. Cities with super-low living costs can suffer from high unemployment, poverty and a lack of services. So while cost of living is an important consideration in choosing where you settle down, it’s equally important to gauge the strength of the local economy and the job market.
Most Affordable Big Cities in the U.S., (The Simple Dollar, July 29, 2014). — Those who want the comfort and amenities that come with living in a big city often have to pay the high costs associated with the lifestyle. Not all cities are created equal, however, and The Simple Dollar has conducted research and analysis on over 100 largely populated U.S. cities to determine which are the most affordable ones to live in.
Safest Places to Live
Mapping the Safest Places to Live in America 2016, (The Open House Blog, July 20, 2016).
The 9 Safest Cities in America, (CBS News, Nov. 20, 2015). — Safety first, right? Whether you're thinking about relocating for your career, looking for a good neighborhood in which to buy a home or trying to decide where you want to attend college, safety is always a top consideration. It's a pretty safe bet to say that no one wants to live in a place where they feel threatened or afraid.
2015 Safest Cities, (Niche, 2015). — Explore the safest cities in America. Niche ranks U.S. cities based on assaults, burglaries, and violent crime rates. A high ranking indicates that a city has low crime rates across multiple categories.
America’s Safest, Most Secure Places to Live, (Forbes, June 29, 2013). — Top 10 metro areas with the lowest risk of damage from natural disasters.
Most Secure Places to Live, 2011, (Sperling's Best Places, Dec. 15, 2011).
10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters, (WiseBread, Mar. 28, 2011). — A list of ten U.S. cities that have a low likelihood of being struck by a major natural disaster.
Beaverton and Portland Rank among the Safest Places to Live in the U.S., (RIS Media, Mar. 23, 2010).
Seventh Annual Farmers Insurance Study Ranks the Most Secure Places to Live in the U.S., (Sperling's Best Places, 2010). — Safety and security are among the most basic human needs, and a safe, secure environment in which to live, work and raise a family is of utmost importance to many Americans.
Best Places to Live for Your Health
Healthiest Cities in America, (Niche, May 11, 2015). - Explore the healthiest cities in America. Niche ranks US cities based on residents' obesity rates, unhealthy habits, and ability to access healthcare, mental health services, and fitness centers. A high ranking indicates a city has many active and healthy people.
2015 Top 10 Healthiest Cities, (Livability, Feb. 10, 2015). — There are two ways to look at a great healthy city. The first and obvious way is to look for cities with the best health care in terms of access, quality and affordability. The second is to dive a little deeper into how the city promotes and enables a healthy lifestyle for its residents. For our Top 10 Healthiest Cities, we looked at both sides of the equation.
10 most healthy states in America, (Huffington Post, Dec. 13, 2014).
The CNN 10 healthiest cities, (CNN, Sept. 4, 2014). - Our health is not just a byproduct of how we live. It’s also about where we live. Just ask the residents of these 10 cities.
The 10 cities with the highest quality of life, (Huffington Post, Aug. 27, 2014). - If you're looking to improve your happiness, you might consider heading to the Midwest. According to new rankings based on a study by Nerdwallet, the top five cities in the U.S. with the best quality of life are all located in the middle of the country.
10 of the healthiest places to live in America, (Huffington Post, Aug. 14, 2014). - Even though we all know the basics of living a healthy life -- eat well, exercise, practice mindfulness -- we don’t all act accordingly. Maybe it’s because of poor time management or lack of access to the necessary resources; or maybe it’s just a matter of where you live.
Top 10 Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America, (ABC News, Sept. 2, 2013).
Best Places to Live If You Want to Lose Weight, (Trulia, Jan. 9, 2013). — Still sticking to your New Year’s resolutions one week into 2013? Losing weight is among the most popular-and most difficult-of resolutions, but you’ve got a better chance of shedding those pounds in San Francisco or Boston than in Las Vegas or San Antonio.
10 Best Big Cities for People With Asthma, (Health, 2013).
The Best Place to Live for Your Health, (Body & Soul, 2013). — Not feeling great? Your street, suburb or town may be affecting your health – and you can do something about it.
The Best & Worst Cities for Men 2013, (Men's Health, Dec. 14, 2012). — Our 12th annual statistical smackdown unveils America’s top towns for men – and places to run from.
The 10 Best Cities for Your Skin, (Huffington Post, June 21, 2012).
The Best Places to Live for Millennials
The 6 Best Cities for Single Millennials, (WiseBread, Mar. 10, 2016).
Millennials Want the ‘Anti-Suburb Suburb’, (REALTOR® Magazine, Feb. 26, 2016). - Forget what you’ve read about the millennial generation not buying homes in the suburbs. The latest surveys show they are, and not only that, they are leaving a powerful footprint on the feel of suburbia.
10 Best Cities for Millennials Right Now, (Techco, Dec. 14, 2015).
7 Livable Cities for Millennials, (The Home Story, Oct. 28, 2015). - What do Millennials look for in a hometown? We’ve compiled a list of some of the best cities for the younger generation to play in, work in and — who knows — maybe even lay down roots in.
15 Best Cities for Millennials, (Earn Spend Live, Oct. 1, 2015). - They’ve compiled a list of the 15 best cities for young professionals where you have the best shot at success – so what are you waiting for?
A Millennial’s Guide to the Most Livable Cities in the U.S., (Ploymint, July 17, 2015). - Once the degree is earned and the career path is set, millennials tend to focus on where they’ll choose to settle next. Sure, for a few years there may be that transitional period when you’re figuring out what you want to do. You may end up moving around as a result, but sooner or later you’ll want to buy. Not rent. The question that arises is, where?
35 Best U.S. Cities for Millennials to Live and Work, (Monster, Dec. 10, 2014). - Relocating and moving closer to work might be the key to shifting your glass to half full.
Best Cities and Neighborhoods for Millennials, (Forbes, Apr. 14, 2014).
Best Places for Business and Careers
The Best Places for Business and Careers, (Forbes, July 29, 2015).
Cities with the Best Job Opportunities in America, (Niche, May 11, 2015). - Explore the cities with the best job opportunities. Niche ranks US cities based on employment rates, employee and business turnover, and cost of living. A high ranking indicates that a city has growing businesses and a robust job market.
Top 3 cities to live in for the best career opportunities, (The Street, Jan. 29, 2015). — Looking to move your career forward? Well, the cities you need to consider living in may surprise you.
The best places to work in 2015, (Forbes, Dec. 10, 2014).
The Best Places for Business and Careers, (Forbes, Sept. 23, 2014).
24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014, (Sunset, Feb. 11, 2014).
The 10 Best Cities For Finding Employment Right Now, (ABC News, Apr. 22, 2013).
10 Best Countries to Live and Work Abroad, (CBS Money Watch, July 25, 2011). — These 10 countries hold an attraction for businesses due to large consumer populations, a good supply of resources or labor and established or emerging presences in the global marketplace.
10 Best Cities for the Next Decade, (Kiplinger, July 2010). — They're prosperous, innovative, and they'll generate plenty of jobs, too.
Top 10 Cities to Earn a Living, (National Association of REALTORS®, Resort Blog, Sept. 4, 2009).
Best Family-Oriented Places to Live
The Best Cities for Children, (SmartAsset, Nov. 3, 2015). - Families move for a wide variety of reasons. In one U.S. Census Bureau survey of Americans who had recently relocated, roughly half of all respondents cited housing as the primary reason for their move, while 30% said they moved for family reasons and 20% moved for work-related reasons.
2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Families, (WalletHub, June 17, 2015). — Whether you’re a newly married couple or a victim of America’s economic transition – is to choose an area conducive to economic prosperity and the overall pursuit of happiness.
Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, (Niche, May 11, 2015). - Explore the best cities to raise a family. Niche ranks US cities based on school ratings, crime rates, age demographics, and access to affordable housing and childcare.
2015 10 Best Cities for Families, (Livability, May 11, 2015). — Discover why children and parents have more advantages in these cities.
Best small cities for families, (NerdWallet, Jan. 20, 2015).
The best places for families to live, (Love Money, Oct. 23, 2014).
The 10 best cities for families, (Huffington Post, July 24, 2014).
The best cities for raising a family, (Forbes, Apr. 16, 2014).
Education: The 10 states with the best scoring schools, (Examiner, Jan. 23, 2014).
2011 Best Cities for Families, (Parenting, Dec. 11, 2011).
Top Towns for Single Moms, (Realty Times, May 26, 2011). — Zillow recently came up with a list of towns that fit the economic and lifestyle needs of single moms.
The Best Schools for Your Real Estate Buck, (Forbes, Apr. 26, 2011). — Second annual look at America's top districts again demolishes the idea that more money equals a better education.
America's Best Places to Raise a Family, (Forbes, June 7, 2010). — Ten cities that are safe, affordable and offer good educational prospects.
Best Places to Live Worldwide
Western European Cities Top Quality of Living Rankings, (Mercer, Feb. 26, 2016).
The 10 Best Places to Live Rich Without Money, So You Can Bring Your Dreams to Life, (David Wolfe, Feb. 2, 2016). - Have you ever felt the desire to pack a few bags and leave everything else behind? To move somewhere exotic and live simply, without technology or the stresses of everyday life?
World’s Top 30 Best Countries to Live In 2016, (LifeStyle9, Jan. 8, 2016). - Where on earth the happiest people reside? Which one is the best place to live in / relocate to?
10 best places to live in the world: Where does the U.S. fall on the list, (San Francisco Gate, Dec. 16, 2015). - The report includes an index that ranks 188 countries according to livability. Each country was given a score based on data in three areas: life expectancy, education and income-standard of living.
The Best Places to Live in the World 2015, (Global Finance, Nov. 19, 2015).
The 10 Best Places to Live Abroad, (Huffington Post, Sept. 23, 2015). — Have you ever entertained the thought of dropping everything to move abroad? If so, prepare yourself, because it's about to look a whole lot more enticing.
The 20 best places to live overseas, (Business Insider, Mar. 7, 2015). - Tired of your old job? Looking for a new environment? There are a lot of reasons to leave your home country behind in search of greener pastures, but picking where to go can be an overwhelming decision.
The World's 10 Best Cities to Live in, (Daily Telegraph, Jan. 29, 2015).
And the best city to move to is..., (USA Today, Feb. 23, 2014).
Where Is the Best Place in the World to Live?, (LA Weekly, Feb. 4, 2014).
Where Are The 10 Best Countries To Live, In 2014?, (TheRichest, Dec. 30, 2013).
Video: 10 ‘Best’ Places to Live, (YouTube, Feb. 29, 2012).
The five best places to live in the world and why, (The Guardian UK, Jan. 20, 2012).
The World’s Best Places to Live in 2012, (Daily Telegraph, Jan. 6, 2012).
10 Best Places to Live for Escaping World Conflict, (Expatify, 2010).
Top Ten Places to Live in the World, (Directory Journal, May 22, 2010). — Environment, weather, history, politics, economy, infrastructure, social climate, and entertainment all play a part. When choosing a place to live, your decision should be based on what issues are important to you.
Best Places for Retirement
These Are the 10 Best (and Worst) States to Retire, (Money Talks News, Feb. 2, 2016).
The World’s 12 Best Places to Live or Retire in 2016, (Huffington Post, Jan. 18, 2016). — The secret to taking control of your retirement in 2016 and making this phase of life a grand adventure, even if your retirement nest egg is modest, is expanding your horizons. Take your retirement global and you can maximize your quality-of-life return for every dollar spent.
Best places to retire are all over the map, (CNBC, Dec. 18, 2015). — You work hard, you want to retire well. That's assuming you ever get to retire. Or want to.
10 Best Cities for Retirement in America, (Bankrate, June 29, 2015). — If you want to find some of the best retirement spots in America, our advice to you is this: Head outdoors.
2015’s 10 Best American Cities for Retirees, (Huffington Post, June 8, 2015). — Forget the surf-and-turf enclaves of Florida. The top city in the U.S. to retire is actually Phoenix, according to Bankrate.com's first ranking of the best cities for retirement.
The Most Livable Places at 50+, (AARP, Apr. 18, 2015). — The top neighborhoods and cities to stay healthy, get around and enjoy life.
The 10 best cities for empty nesters in 2015, (Huffington Post, Jan. 8, 2015). — When the kids are gone and you no longer care about the quality of neighborhood schools, a new realm of possible places to live opens up. Rent.com compiled a list of the 10 top cities for empty nesters -- their first -- based on low crime, lower-than-average living costs, climate and convenient access to travel.
The world’s best places to retire in 2015, (International Living, Jan. 1, 2015). — With spiraling costs compelling more and more North Americans to retire overseas, retiring abroad has never been more attractive. But finding the right location among the myriad options available can be daunting.
2015’s best and worst places to retire, (WalletHub, 2015). — After toiling in the workplace for decades, it seems natural to expect financial security in our golden years. But not everyone can look forward to a cushy retirement.
6 of the best American cities for growing old and happy, (Huffington Post, Aug. 18, 2014). — When it comes to naming the best places to grow old in America, there are lots of formal studies out there. One by the Milken Institute found Provo-Orem, Utah to be among the best large metro areas for successful aging. Another focusing on countries found Sweden to be the best place for seniors to live out their retirement.
Best Places in the World to Retire: 2014 Edition, (Forbes, Jan. 6, 2014).
The 50 Best Places to Grow Old, (The Weather Channel, Oct. 3, 2013).
How to Choose Your Best Place to Retire, (Forbes, Aug. 12, 2013).
100 Best Places to Retire, (TopRetirements, Mar. 26, 2012).
The 18 Best Places to Retire Overseas, (US News, Mar. 19, 2012).
The 10 Best Places to Retire, (Yahoo!, Mar. 8, 2012).
The 10 Best Places to Retire, (CBS News, Feb. 22, 2012).
Best Places in the World to Retire, (Daily Reckoning, Jan. 26, 2012).
Top Places to Retire and Work, (Forbes, Jan. 23, 2012).
Best Places for a Second Home
What to Know Before Buying a Home at Your Favorite Vacation Spot, (Money, Sept. 17, 2015). - You need to visit your vacation home often to make the purchase worth it, so ensure you truly love the location and won't grow tired of it.
Best Cities to Make a Second Home Purchase, (AgentAce, Sept. 14, 2015). - For some, the purchase of a second home is precipitated by the desire for a vacation home or the need to find a place to stay when splitting time between cities. Others are simply looking to invest in the real estate market. Whatever the reason, when purchasing a second home, one of the biggest decisions is regarding location, location, location.
Top 10 places in the U.S. to buy a vacation home, (Crain's Wealth, Aug. 6, 2015).
Vacation properties are hot: Where to shop for that home away from home, (Washington Post, May 28, 2015).
30 best places to have a second home, (The Times, Mar. 12, 2015). — Fancy a cottage in Cornwall, or a house with views across Britain’s best golf course? Property experts on Bricks & Mortar have the inside track on where to buy that weekend retreat, from a £150,000 terraced house in a thriving market town to a millionaire’s party pad in Battersea Power Station.
5 of the world’s best places to buy a second home in the sun, (Huffington Post, Jan. 6, 2015). — Which overseas property markets should have your attention this shiny new year? The world is alive right now with markets in crisis and markets benefiting from the strong dollar (and the weak euro).
Best places to buy a vacation home, (Zillow, Jul. 2, 2014). — If you're an outdoor adventurer, amusement park enthusiast, history buff or golf lover, you may have day dreamed about buying a vacation home near your favorite destination. To help second home shoppers identify seasonal home sweet spots, we've analyzed the cities nearby various popular vacation areas.
10 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home, (Huffington Post, Sept. 17, 2013).
Barron's: 20 Best Places for Second Homes, (National Association of REALTORS®, Resort Blog, Mar. 3, 2012).
20 best places to buy a second home abroad, (T-Rex Global, Aug. 14, 2011).
Ideal Living's Top Places to Retire, (National Association of REALTORS®, Resort Blog, July 13, 2009).
eBooks & Other Resources
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
Making Home, (Kindle, Adobe PDF eBook)
Where to Retire, (Kindle, Adobe PDF eBook)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
Places rated almanac: your guide to finding the best places to live in North America, (New York, NY: Time, Inc., 1999).
The Best Places to Live Today, (New York, NY: Time, Inc., 1998).
Small town bound, (Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 1996).
A Place to Live is the Place to Start: A Statement of Principles for Changing HUD to meet America's housing and community development priorities, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1995).
A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb, (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, 1994).
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