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Field Guide to the Best Places to Live

(Updated March 2015)

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, Operations Analyst)


Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.


The Best Places to Live

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.

2015 Top 100 Best Places to Live, (Livability, 2015). — 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.

Best United States Places to Live in: Top 20 for 2014:, (Examiner.com, 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).

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.

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.

Find Your Best Place, (Bestplaces.net, 2010). — Tell us a little about the climate you enjoy. We have given some example cities.

10 Best Places to Live and Boat, (Boating Magazine, 2010). — Somewhere the grass is always greener and the water is always bluer.

America's Best Cities for Foodies, (Bestplaces.net, 2010). — Great food can be found in any large city, but these ten also offer foodie-friendly amenities such as microbreweries and farmers markets.

The Best Places to Live for Warm Weather, (eHow.com, 2010). 

The Best Cities to Own and Rent a Home, (Forbes, Oct. 26, 2010). 


The Best Affordable Places to Live

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).

2015 Best Affordable Places to Live, (Livability, Feb. 10, 2015). — These budget-friendly cities offer lots of things to do and help families stretch their paychecks further.

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

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, (Bestplaces.net, Dec. 15, 2011).

10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters, (WiseBread.com, 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., (Bestplaces.net, 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

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.com, 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).


Best Places for Business and Careers

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 Moneywatch.com, 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.com, July 2010). — They're prosperous, innovative, and they'll generate plenty of jobs, too.

If You're Gathering No Moss... Best Places to Live and Work for Those Under 35, (realtor.com®, 2010).

Top 10 Cities to Earn a Living, (REALTOR.org, Resort Blog, Sept. 4, 2009).


Best Family-Oriented Places to Live

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).

10 best places for families to live, (ZipRealty, June 27, 2014). — When searching for a home, lots of families want to buy in high-performing school districts, but they can’t always afford to pay an outrageously high mortgage. To help families find affordable homes in great school districts, ZipRealty released their second annual ranking of the Best Places for Families to Live.

The best cities for raising a family, (Forbes, Apr. 16, 2014).

The 25 Best Public High Schools In The US, (Business Insider, Nov. 9, 2014).

Education: The 10 states with the best scoring schools, (Examiner.com, Jan. 23, 2014).

2011 Best Cities for Families, (Parenting.com, 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 100 Best (and Worst) Place to Raise a Family, (Men's Health, 2011). — You and your kids call it home, but how does your city rank nationally?

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

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).

2014 Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings, (Mercer.com, Feb. 19, 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.com, Dec. 30, 2013).

Video: 10 ‘Best’ Places to Live, (YouTube, Feb. 29, 2012).

The five best places to live in the world and why, (Guardian UK, Jan. 20, 2012).

The World’s Best Places to Live in 2012, (Daily Telegraph, Jan. 6, 2012).

The World’s Best Places to Live, (CNBC, Nov. 29, 2011).

10 Best Places to Live for Escaping World Conflict, (Expatify.com, 2010).  

Top Ten Places to Live in the World, (DirJournal.com, 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

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 best places to retire abroad in 2015, (Forbes, Jan. 2, 2015). — Whether your dream is to retire abroad one day or the idea just offers a vicarious thrill, you’ll likely want to hear the winners in International Living’s just-released “World’s Best Retirement Destinations for 2015.”

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.

2014’s best and worst places to retire, (Wallethub.com, 2014). — After decades in the workforce, it seems only natural for retirees to expect financial security in their Golden Years. But gone are the days when Americans looked forward to a worry-free retirement. Many are working longer years with an increasingly unreachable goal of securing financial freedom for the rest of their lives.

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.com, 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).

The 4 best places to retire in America, (Consumer Reports, Oct. 21, 2011).

8 Great Places to Retire Abroad, (Kiplinger.com, June 29, 2011).

Best Retirement Places, (Forbes, Mar. 23, 2011).  

Best Places to Retire, (GreatPlacesToRetire, 2010).  

10 Best Places for Single Seniors to Retire, (U.S. News and World Report, Nov. 1, 2010). — These cities have the most single people age 55 and older.

The Best—and Worst—Places to Build a Nest Egg, (U.S. News and World Report, July 22, 2010). — A state-by-state look at how workers saving for retirement will fare.


Best Places for a Second Home

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.

Buy now and retire later – the best places to purchase a second home for retirement, (Vacation Nest, Feb. 20, 2015). — A hot trend in real estate currently is working couples who are purchasing second homes now for use as their primary retirement home later.

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, (REALTOR.org, 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, (REALTOR.org, Resort Blog, July 13, 2009).

MSN Money picks the top 10 places to buy a second home, (REALTOR.org, Resort Blog, May 17, 2009).

eBooks & Other Resources

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). 

More:

Information Services Blog


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