For 2016's list of the best places to live, we've anlayzed just over 100 cities with a population of more than 200,000 to find the highest Livability Score in America. The Livability Score analyzes seven categories and more than twenty different data points. The list saw some changes over last year's edition, including the addition of three new cities.
How We Ranked The Cities
- Amenities: Higher scores for more nearby amenities like: grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, parks, libraries, etc.
- Cost of Living: Higher scores for lower cost of goods and services, groceries, health care, housing, transportation and utilities.
- Crime: Higher scores for low violent crime and property crime. Violent crimes are more heavily weighted.
- Education: Higher scores for high test scores and low student to teacher ratio.
- Employment: Higher scores for high median household income and low unemployment rates.
- Housing: Higher scores for low housing price to median household ratio and high appreciation rates.
- Weather: Higher scores for average temperatures between 70°-75° and low precipitation.
Here is the list of the top 10
- 1. Arlington, VAScore: 88/100
The shining city of Arlington, Virginia, takes the crown for this year's list, moving up from third place on last year's list. Arlington continues to excel in several categories, ranging from education to home values. The city does have a high cost of living, but with a median household income 62% higher than the rest of Virginia, most residents can absorb the cost of admission. Arlington is close to Washington D.C., and all of its tourist attractions, but Arlington has plenty for visitors and tourists alike to enjoy, including shopping at Shirlington Village and touring the Pentagon. Learn more about Arlington, VA.
- 2. Irvine, CAScore: 88/100
The city of Irvine, California, slipped a place from last year's list, but the city still has plenty to be proud of. The city is packed with a dazzling array of notable businesses and top educational institutions. The weather is a key selling point for this pleasant city; winter weather in Irvine is mild, with averages near 60 degrees. Residents are more likely to run into an Internet whiz-kid millionaire than a snowflake. Education is a priority for many of the city's residents; over 95% of the city's population have finished eighth grade, and just over 65% of residents have earned a bachelor's degree. Learn more about Irvine, CA.
- 3. Plano, TXScore: 85/100
For this year's list, Plano, Texas, moved up a spot over last year. This city earned its name from the Spanish word for flat, but don't let the city's uneventful terrain fool you. This city is a bustling metropolis that continues to grow with plenty of charm and amenities to enjoy. Residents of this city enjoy a low crime rate; the total crime rate is 38% lower than the rest of the state. Devotion to education is clear in Plano's graduation rates; 91% of residents have finished high school, and 20% have earned a master's degree. Learn more about Plano, TX.
- 4. Fremont, CAScore: 84/100
Fremont, California, climbed up two places over last year's list, making it a strong contender for the top of the list. Fremont shares a high cost of living with many other cities in California, but home values are high and residents have easy access to amenities, including coffee shops, museums, parks and libraries. The median home price in Fremont is over half a million dollars, twice the price of the average home in other parts of the state. The city's median household income hovers around $100,000, putting it $40,000 higher than the household income in the rest of California. Fremont doesn't see much precipitation during the year; while enjoying the city's plentiful parks, residents are more likely to need an umbrella to shade themselves from the sun. Learn more about Fremont, CA.
- 5. Virginia Beach, VAScore: 83/100
Last year, the Virginian city of Virginia Beach had just squeaked its way onto the bottom of this list. With this city's glamorous resort culture, it's no wonder that it continues to do well in our rankings. Employment numbers in this city are on par or better than those in the rest of the state. For example, the median household income is about $3,000 more than the Virginian average and $14,000 more than the national average. The residents of Virginia Beach celebrate their city's coastal culture and history with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and the annual Neptune Festival. Learn more about Virginia Beach, VA.
- 6. Gilbert, AZScore: 82/100
Although Gilbert, Arizona, dropped several places from last year's list, this charming desert city is still a favorite among retirees and those who love warm weather. Although Gilbert's population has been steadily increasing, the city maintains a small city feel with a low crime rate. Violent crimes are rare, and the city experiences 47% less crime than the rest of the country. Those residents of Gilbert who haven't yet retired have plenty to celebrate with a median household income of $81,485, just over $30,000 higher than the state's median income. The cost of living in Gilbert is similar to other cities in the state, but Gilbert residents enjoy less expensive utility bills and transportation costs. Learn more about Gilbert, AZ.
- 7. El Paso, TXScore: 81/100
El Paso, Texas, is a new entry to the list this year. This Texas city sits on the Rio Grande, just across the border from Mexico. El Paso features a number of perks that make it a popular place to move, starting with a lower cost of living compared to other regions in Texas. Health care, utilities, housing and groceries are less expensive, helping residents make the most of their paychecks. The weather in El Paso features mild winters with little precipitation. Summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, but the average temperature lingers around a more livable 85 degrees. Learn more about El Paso, TX.
- 8. Scottsdale, AZScore: 81/100
The city of Scottsdale, Arizona, returns to our list, having slipped just a few places lower than last year. The city shares a border with a number of other cities, including Phoenix, but it makes its own name with a booming tourism scene and a growing population. There's more to Scottsdale than glitzy resorts and gleaming golf courses, however. Education takes a priority in the city; almost 95% of the residents are high school graduates. Over 80% of Scottsdale's citizens have completed some college, and 21% have successfully graduated with a master's degree. Learn more about Scottsdale, AZ.
- 9. Boise, IDScore: 81/100
Boise, Idaho, is a newcomer to this year's list of best places to live. The city is both the capital and the most populous city in the state of Idaho. Boise features a picturesque cityscape, framed by rolling mountains and dotted with trees. The city has a strong educational track record with 90% of its population having graduated high school and 73% having completed some college education. The crime rate in this growing city is 20% less than the national average, making Boise an attractive place to raise a family. Learn more about Boise, ID.
- 10. Irving, TXScore: 79/100
Irving, Texas, is our final newcomer onto this year's list. The city is a part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and is home to just over 200,000 people. Crime rates have stayed stable and low in Irving compared to similar cities in Texas. Residents don't have to look far to find easy access to excellent amenities. Popular attractions, such as the Irving Arts Center and the Mandalay Canal, give Irving residents an excuse to get out and enjoy their beautiful city. Learn more about Irving, TX.
You can refer to the Best Places to Live list for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best places to live. The results are sortable, and it allows you to filter by the population as well as your preferred state.