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Field Guide to the Best Places to Live

(Updated March 2014)

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)


The Best Places to Live

2014 Top 100 Best Places to Live, (Livability, 2014). — Their ranking of the top 100 best places to live focuses on small to mid-sized cities and what makes them great places to live and work.

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, 2013).  — Money's list of America's best small towns.

Here are the Best Places to Live – in 2032, (US News, Aug. 7, 2012).

Best Places to Live: Top-Earning Towns, (Money Magazine, 2012). — Luxe homes, great schools and exclusive communities. It takes a big paycheck to live large in these 25 posh patches.

Best Places to Live: Commuting-Shortest commutes, (Money Magazine, 2012). — Here are towns from the Best Places database with the quickest median travel time to work.

Best Places to Live: Affordable Homes, (Money Magazine, 2012). — Residents who buy real estate in these cities from the Best Places database see their incomes go the furthest.

Best Places to Live: Top-Earning Towns, (Money Magazine, 2012). — 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.

Best 100 Places to Live: Commuting, (Money Magazine, 2010). — Here are towns from the Best Places database with the quickest median travel time to work.

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). 

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.

Suburbanites Best Places to Live, (Coldwell Banker, 2013).— Prefer peace and quiet to the hustle and bustle of city life? Looking for a place to settle down, kick up your feet and relax? People like you want the big backyards and community safety of these suburban areas!

Safest Places to Live in America, (trojanNews.com, Jan. 10, 2012).

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

Top 10 Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America, (ABC News, Sept. 2, 2013).

Best Places to Live: Great Places for Clean Air, (Forbes. Aug 20, 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

24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014, (Sunset, Feb. 11, 2014).

The Best Places for Business and Careers, (Forbes, Aug. 7, 2013).

The 10 Best Cities For Finding Employment Right Now, (ABC News, Apr. 22, 2013).

The Best Places for Business and Careers, (Forbes, June 2011).

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.

How We Found the 'Best Cities for Business', (Marketwatch.com, Dec. 20, 2010). — Fourteen metrics used to determine the best cities for business.

50 Best Places to Start a Small Business, (Money.com, Oct. 18, 2010). — Fortune Small Business ranks the 50 best places to start a small business in the U.S.

10 Best Cities for the Next Decade, (Kiplinger.com, July 2010). — They're prosperous, innovative, and they'll generate plenty of jobs, too.

The Best Places for Business and Careers, (Forbes, Apr. 24, 2010). — The top of this year's list was filled with Midwestern and Western cities, areas with reasonable business costs, strong economic outlooks and a solid quality of life.

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

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, (Telegraph.co.uk, Feb. 26, 2014).

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, (Telegraph.co.uk, 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

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 ro 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.com, 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.com, 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

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 Central. 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 Central 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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