Without further ado, we bring you the 2013 Top Ten Best Places to Live list. Many of the cities have stayed true to their greatness and graced us with their presence once again. There are also a few newcomers to the list. To rank each city, we create a Livability Score based on each citiy's most important metrics like local amenities, cost of living, crime, education, employment, housing and weather. These categories get plugged into an algorithm which calculates a total score out of 100. The higher the score, the more liveable the city is. Each city must have a population of more than 200,000 to qualify for the list.
- 1. Plano, TXScore: 88/100
© Jim Nix - flickr
Once again Plano, Texas takes the number one spot in our best cities list! Forbes and CNN Money magazines also both agree that Plano offers amazing opportunities for families. Forbes has also reported that Plano as the safest city in America. Beyond being safe, Plano also boasts a school system that ranks very high compared to other schools systems in the nation. Plano has an 8th grade graduation rate of almost 95%. Safety and great schools make Plano ideal for families. Feeling like a night out on the town? Entertainment is never far away. Plano is in extremely close proximity to the night life of Dallas. In fact, you even have access to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit to make your travels to and from home easy.
Visit Plano, TX livability page for full details.
- 2. Scottsdale, AZScore: 83/100
© Michael Egan - flickr
Scottsdale, Arizona made a jump in the rankings this year, moving from #4 to #2. Now if you are looking for the best of everything, then Scottsdale is your city. Scottsdale is even called the Beverly Hills of Arizona. It is home to top rated spas, resorts, restaurants and an amazing selection of retail stores. Along with having the best of everything, you will be impressed with how safe you will feel in Scottsdale. The violent crime rate in less than half of the Arizona average.
Visit Scottsdale, AZ livability page for full details.
- 3. Glendale, AZScore: 83/100
© RightBrainPhotography - flickr
Staying strong in third place is Glendale, Arizona. The cost of living in Glendale is significantly lower than both the Arizona and national average. With Phoenix just a close nine miles away, excellent employment opportunities are just a short commute away. Financially, this town may be just what you need. When you are done working, you have indoor and outdoor entertainment right at your fingertips. Glendale has everything from hiking trails and water parks to symphonies and fine dining.
Visit Glendale, AZ livability page for full details.
- 4. Austin, TXScore: 83/100
© milpool79 - flickr
With a slight drop from #2 to #4, Austin, TX is still "keepin it weird". Austin is the cultural capital of Texas with a wide range of activities you can choose from every day. Even though there is a lot to do, you may be pleasantly surprised at how slow paced Austin can be. Many people enjoy the laidback friendly lifestyle of this popular Texas city. Flip flops and shorts are a common attire for the residents of Austin. Austin, Texas has a low unemployment rate of about 6%, which is significantly lower than the 8% nationally. Employment for people who are tech savvy is especially on the rise. The availability of jobs combined with the low cost of living makes Austin a top choice.
Visit Austin, TX livability page for full details.
- 5. Fremont, CAScore: 82/100
© stevecorey - flickr
Jumping three spots from last year is Fremont, California. The cost of living may be higher than the national average, but with good reason. Housing prices are higher, but benefit from solid appreciation rates. Some consider the weather in Fremont to be absolutely perfect. You can plan outdoor activities nearly year round without being too hot or too cold. Fremont is a wonderful place to raise kids for two very distinct reasons. First of all, it has one of the most diverse populations in the nation. Secondly, the crime rate is much lower than California's state average.
Visit Fremont, CA livability page for full details.
- 6. Raleigh, NCScore: 82/100
© steverhode - flickr
Raleigh, North Carolina is a beautiful place to live. Known as the "city of oaks", tree-lined streets are a lovely accent to all that this city has to offer. Raleigh is a wonderful place to raise a family. The downtown area provides a lot for families to do such as visit museums or watch a show in the IMAX theater. The neighborhoods are quaint with low crime rates. According to Forbes, Raleigh, North Caroline ranks #13 in the nation when it comes to quality of education. Almost 90% of students will graduate from 8th grade, which is 20% higher than the average of the rest of the nation.
Visit Raleigh, NC livability page for full details.
- 7. Mesa, AZScore: 81/100
© Brandon Hunt - flickr
Making its way onto the list for 2013 is Mesa, Arizona. The city was built on a flat, raised area and named Mesa which mean table top in Spanish. It has a rich history which you can experience through its museums and attractions. If you are looking for a low cost of living combined with a low cost housing market, then this city in Arizona may be for you. Many people travel the short distance to Phoenix for employment while still enjoying the benefits of living in Mesa.
Visit Mesa, AZ livability page for full details.
- 8. Charlotte, NCScore: 81/100
© Pam Broviak - flickr
Charlotte, North Carolina brings to mind the term "southern charm". This city is growing rapidly, but still holds on to its southern roots. The city has multiple neighborhoods each with its own distinct charm. You are sure to find one that fits you perfectly. Charlotte is a perfect place to live if you are looking for a southern town that offers a city like feel while also being affordable. The cost of living is lower than the national average. You will also find a plethora of affordable homes with home prices coming in at 13% less than the national average.
Visit Charlotte, NC livability page for full details.
- 9. Honolulu, HIScore: 81/100
© 3cl - flickr
Why not live in paradise? In Honolulu, the water is beautiful, and the temperature averages 80 degrees year round. The residents of Honolulu enjoy a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. The city is known for its family values and a sense of community. There are more job opportunities than you might imagine. Honolulu actually has large downtown area with a beautiful skyline. These businesses provide many different types of jobs for individuals wanting to live on the island.
Visit Honolulu, HI livability page for full details.
- 10. Phoenix, AZScore: 81/100
© Al_HikesAZ - flickr
Creeping onto the list at number 10 is Phoenix, Arizona. The recreational opportunities in Phoenix are top notch. Water parks and splash pads are favorite hang outs in this hot desert city. During the hot months, there are many choices for indoor fun and adventures. If you enjoy the outdoors, you'll find beautiful wildlife that you don't see in other cities. Phoenix is also known for its stable housing market and low cost of living. Whether you are ordering a pizza, buying new clothes or going bowling, you will spend much less in Phoenix than you would in most other U.S. cities.
Visit Phoenix, AZ livability page for full details.
You can refer to our Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The report is sortable, and it allows you to discriminate by the population as well as your preferred state.