AreaVibes proudly presents our 2015 list of the top ten most livable cities in America. Each year, we put every city in America through our special Livability Score algorithm to create this list, which focuses on cities with 200,000 or more residents. Our ranking takes many factors into consideration when creating these scores, including local amenities, housing costs, employment figures, weather, crime rates and educational achievement.
As always, there have been some changes to this list since last year. One new city has joined the list for this year, one newcomer from last year was just barely edged out, and six of the cities have changed places. Perfection remains elusive, but these cities come closer than any others in America.
- 1. Irvine, CAScore: 86/100
Once you've found the formula for success, why change it? Irvine, California once again ranks number one on this list, thanks to its low crime rate and extensive employment opportunities. As a planned city, Irvine consists of a series of well-designed and interconnected villages, dotted with plentiful parks and open spaces. Irvine does have a high cost of living and is 22% more expensive to live in than the rest of California. However, the city's median income of $92,663 helps to offset this. The work commute is also shorter than the average in California, clocking in at about 23 minutes. The unemployment rate is 4.5%, compared to the state's average of 7.1%. Learn more about Irvine, CA.
- 2. Gilbert, AZScore: 84/100
Gilbert, Arizona, located just southeast of Phoenix, is a gorgeous desert city with plenty of sunshine. The city continues to grow at a tremendous rate, and its place on this list has jumped three spots over last year. Gilbert's weather is one of its biggest draws; although the summers can be hot, the winters are mild and pleasant. Gilbert's schools have a higher student-teacher ratio than the rest of Arizona, but 93% of the city's residents have finished high school; Arizona overall has a rate of 81%. Gilbert is also one of the safest cities in Arizona. Violent crime, for example, is 79% lower than the national average. Learn more about Gilbert, AZ.
- 3. Arlington, VAScore: 84/100
Arlington, Virginia, slipped down one place on the list since last year, but the city continues to shine in numerous categories. Education in the city is excellent across the board; schools have a 12:1 student-teacher ratio, and 75% of the city's population has earned at least an associate degree. Crime rates are low in the city, with a rate far below the national average. The city offers plenty of amenities and is immediately adjacent Washington, D.C., giving residents of Arlington quick access to the capital's nationally recognized amenities, including museums, memorials and historical sites. Learn more about Arlington, VA.
- 4. Plano, TXScore: 84/100
Plano, Texas maintains its spot from last year as the fourth most livable city on the list. Employment prospects in the city remain positive; Plano is home to the headquarters of a wide variety of major companies, including Cinemark Theatres and Pizza Hut. The median household income for residents is $83,193, more than $30,000 over the average income in Texas. The city's poverty rate is low for the state, sitting at 7.4% compared to Texas' 17.4%. The city enjoys mild temperatures in the winter, making it a great spot for those who dislike the cold. Learn more about Plano, TX.
- 5. Scottsdale, AZScore: 84/100
The city of Scottsdale, Arizona, improved its ranking slightly over last year, moving up one spot. Tourism is a major industry in Scottsdale, and a large number of residents work in the city's numerous spas and hotels; some people compare Scottsdale to Miami without the ocean. The strong tourism trade helps to keep Scottsdale's unemployment low, hovering around 3.9%. Poverty is also low at 8.3%. The city's workforce is made up of educated individuals; more than 80% of residents have completed some college, and 94.5% have finished high school. Learn more about Scottsdale, AZ.
- 6. Fremont, CAScore: 83/100
Although Fremont, California, has dropped three places on the list since last year, the city still has plenty to offer. Fremont's moderate weather draws in multitudes of new residents, and the natural beauty of the city is hard to beat. The city prides itself on its parks and trees and maintains over 55,000 trees on city property. Although winters can be a little cold, the average temperature in the summer hovers just below 80 degrees. Due to the city's location in the San Francisco Bay Area, employment opportunities for residents are diverse. The median household income is $99,169, compared to California's average of $61,400. Learn more about Fremont, CA.
- 7. Chandler, AZScore: 82/100
Clear skies and a lack of rain have attracted people to the Chandler, Arizona, area for centuries. Chandler's growth today is fueled by manufacturing plants for important corporations, including Intel and Motorola, leading to a median household income 41% higher than the rest of Arizona. Chandler is a safe city; its violent crime rate is 31% lower than Arizona's average, and property crimes are 44% less common in Chandler. Residents of Chandler can enjoy a number of quirky amenities, including the Ostrich Festival, which celebrates ostrich farms from the city's early history. Chandler is managing its impressive growth well; it's moved up a spot in the ranking since last year. Learn more about Chandler, AZ.
- 8. Henderson, NVScore: 82/100
Slipping one spot from last year's list, Henderson, Nevada, is still a fantastic place to live. The city surged to importance during World War II, when the city's foundries provided much-needed magnesium to the war effort. Today, Henderson provides an alternative for people who enjoy the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas but don't want to deal with the crowds and crime of the big city. Henderson's record on education is particularly strong; 89.3% of residents graduated from high school. The city's unemployment rate is similar to the rest of Nevada, but Henderson has a lower poverty rate than Nevada and the country as a whole. Learn more about Henderson, NV.
- 9. Virginia Beach, VAScore: 82/100
Virginia Beach, Virginia, returns to the list for the second year in a row, maintaining its position from last year. Residents enjoy seaside amenities, great educational options and pleasant year-round weather. With average summer temperatures that don't crack 80 degrees, and average winter temperatures that don't fall below 40 degrees, you won't suffer from extremes of temperature. More than 90% of its students graduate from high school, helped by their smaller class sizes. You can enjoy a seaside stroll after dark in Virginia Beach without fear; its violent crime rate is 17% lower than the Virginia average. Housing costs are higher than the state average, but that's to be expected when so many people want to live in the city. Learn more about Virginia Beach, VA.
- 10. Mesa, AZScore: 81/100
New to the list since last year, Mesa, Arizona, offers a great climate, affordable cost of living and access to a whole slew of amenities. Average household wages are a little bit lower than Arizona's average, but affordable housing prices and rental rates help to balance that out. Educational opportunities are abundant, with a high school graduation rate of 83%. During the spring, residents can enjoy mild temperatures and Cactus League baseball, with both the Oakland A's and the Chicago Cubs playing their home games in the city. While enjoying a Cactus League game, you'll be able to safely leave your belongings in your car; the crime rate in Mesa is significantly lower than the state average. Learn more about Mesa, AZ.
You can refer to the Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The results are sortable, and it allows you to filter by the population as well as your preferred state.