Our search for this year's list of best places to live in America began with a look at over 100 cities with a population of 200,000 or more. With our Livability Score algorithm in hand, we ranked each of the cities to come up with the top 10. Ranking cities isn't an exact science, of course, but our score measures a number of essential objective facts that directly influence livability, including education, crime and cost of living. This year, we're graced with nine returning champions and have accepted one newcomer into the ranks of America's most livable 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. Plano, TXScore: 86/100
The city of Plano, Texas, took the top honors on this year's list, moving up from the third position last year. This city originally began as a rural farming town, growing to a modest population of 3,700 in 1960. Thanks to a series of public work projects, Plano began to thrive, attracting a multitude of major corporations in the 1980s, including J.C. Penney. The citizens of this growing city enjoy a high density of amenities, with galleries and coffee shops lining the city streets. Plano's students enjoy a strong educational environment with a low student-teacher ratio and test scores that exceed the averages in Texas.
- 2. Virginia Beach, VAScore: 81/100
Virginia Beach, Virginia, home to seemingly endless beaches, moved up from the fifth spot on last year's rankings. The beautiful city is a jewel in the state of Virginia, with plentiful hotels, restaurants and other amenities right on the oceanfront. While it's easy to see why tourists flock to Virginia Beach, it's also a great place to live, especially if you care about low crime rates, sunny weather and strong employment numbers. The economy in Virginia Beach is about more than just tourism; major companies are headquartered in the city, including GEICO and Amerigroup. With a median household income of $67,000, a healthy economy is one of Virginia Beach's strong points.
- 3. Arlington, VAScore: 81/100
Arlington, Virginia, slipped from the top spot to number three on this year's list. Although the city's nearby neighbor, Washington, D.C., may be better known, Arlington continues to make a strong case for its position on our rankings. Residents flock to Arlington for its abundant employment opportunities; thanks to its proximity to the nation's capital, many important government institutions are headquartered within the city, including the Pentagon. Schoolchildren in the city benefit from low student-teacher ratios. Nearly 93% of high school students successfully earn a diploma, and over 70% of the city's adult population has earned a bachelor's degree.
- 4. Gilbert, AZ.Score: 81/100
The sunny city of Gilbert, Arizona, moved up from the sixth position from the previous rankings. Gilbert's blossoming population continues to grow, attracting young families and sun-seeking retirees alike. Although summers can be a touch hot, the city offers plenty of indoor amenities with refreshing air conditioning to pass the hottest days, including museums and theaters. The city's low crime rates continue to be a big draw for many newcomers. The city's residents are well educated, with 93% of residents completing high school and over 50% completing at least an associate degree.
- 5. Irvine, CA.Score: 81/100
Last year, Irvine, California, took the second spot on our list. However, this small drop shouldn't put a damper on the moods of the city's residents; Irvine still has plenty to offer, including clear skies, low crime rates and a range of employment opportunities. The city's bountiful amenities offer a wide range of parks to suit any recreational activity, from hiking in Mason Park to children's play structures in Sweet Shade Park. The student-teacher ratio in Irvine is higher than the rest of California, but the residents can be proud of their other educational achievements, with 95% of residents finishing high school and 65% completing a bachelor's degree.
- 6. El Paso, TXScore: 79/100
El Paso, Texas, joined the rankings last year at seventh place. For centuries, people have called the area around this city home, beginning with nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers. Today, the people of El Paso have swapped their ancient spears for smartphones and computers to keep up with the modern economy. Military, oil, gas and health care are major industries in the area, helping the city maintain a low unemployment rate of 5%. Tourism is also a big draw; the city hosts a number of engaging festivals and events each year, including the Sun Bowl.
- 7. Scottsdale, AZScore: 78/100
Scottsdale, Arizona, moved up a spot since last year's list, displaying its staying power as a good place to live for those who enjoy a desert climate. The city earned its name from its founder, Winfield Scott, and began its history as a modest settlement. Today, the city's population boasts over 230,000 residents, having attracted many residents with good-paying jobs. In fact, the median household income of $72,000 is leaps beyond the $50,000 median household income found in the rest of Arizona. Scottsdale's residents see some savings in their cost of living, with groceries and utilities costing less than the national averages.
- 8. Irving, TXScore: 78/100
The city of Irving, Texas, climbed up a few spots over last year's list. Local legend holds that the city was named after Washington Irving, a favorite author of the wife of one of the city's founders. Irving's population began to skyrocket with the completion of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, once the country's biggest airport. The robust economy of the city is buoyed by the presence of ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark and Caliber Home Loans. Residents can take advantage of a solid mix of local amenities, from golf courses to outdoor art attractions.
- 9. Austin, TXScore: 77/100
Austin, Texas, is the only newcomer to the rankings for 2017 and is the third Texan city on the list. With a population nearing a million, Austin has become a hot city for people looking for a new start. Tech jobs are a booming industry in the city thanks to the arrival of a number of large companies, including Apple, IBM and PayPal. A strong emphasis on education helps younger residents prepare for tech jobs; 84% of residents have finished high school, and many go on to college. Summers in Austin are hot, but the mild winters encourage residents to enjoy the city's many parks and other outdoor venues.
- 10. Boise, IDScore: 77/100
Boise, Idaho, debuted on the list last year, moving down one spot for this year's list of the best places to live. Despite Boise's exceptional urban growth, the city still maintains its small-town charm with parks and other natural areas throughout the city. The Boise River Greenbelt runs through the city and consists of a number of networking trails. When the city's residents aren't enjoying Boise's natural beauty, they are often pursuing educational opportunities; just over 90% of the adult residents have completed high school, a rate higher than the state and national level.
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.