There are any number of factors to consider when trying to determine the best places to live in the US. The cost of living, quality of schools, work environment, health indicators and cultural opportunities all figure into any good ranking. Two popular magazines, Forbes and Money, release rankings of the best places to live in America every year, as do numerous other publications. It also depends on whether you’re looking for a particular city or considering a particular state.
Recently, Forbes declared that the best state to live in was Utah, a surprise to many people. This was based on their outstanding work quality (a mixture of low unemployment, job satisfaction and benefits), overall good health of the citizens and several other factors. Hawaii ranked a close second. It would have been first except that the unemployment rate is a bit too high. On all other indicators, Hawaii excelled.
Best City and Towns in the United States
If you’re more interested in the best cities in the United States, consider that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has ranked number one on and off for years, largely because of its renaissance in the last twenty years. It’s now a cultural center with several major universities and an outstanding system of specialized hospitals and clinics, but its has kept a small town personality and hosts a variety of festivals along the three rivers each year. It’s also a huge sports town, boasting professional baseball, football and hockey teams.
For a more small town feel, consider Money magazine’s top two cities: Louisville, Colorado and Chanhassen, Minnesota. Both are in areas that have four beautiful seasons and lots of outdoor activities from skiing to fishing.
Louisville, Colorado is what one resident termed a “small town without the small minds.” It’s a liberal enclave with three hundred sunny days a year and an abundance of top notch school systems. Low crime rates and a short drive to either Denver or Boulder make this a terrific community for commuters.
In Chanhassen, Minnesota, homes are reasonably priced and property taxes have actually dropped in the last several years. With numerous lakes and public parks, Chanhassen is a family friendly community with plenty of small town restaurants, theaters and other amenities. It’s also close to the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Best Places to Live in Florida
If you’re looking for quaint, small town charm, take a look at Lake Mary, Florida or Oviedo, Florida. Both have great health care available, offer cultural events and old fashioned street fairs, and feature lakes for fishing and water sports. The housing market has taken a bit of a beating, but that means you can purchase a really nice home for a reasonable price.
Both Lake Mary and Oviedo have less than 35,000 residents. If you’re looking for city life, consider Miami or Orlando. Miami is geared more toward the young and single, with incredible night life and a fast pace, while Orlando is one of the most family friendly places to live in the U.S. The obvious appeal of Disney World is only one reason families love Orlando; good schools, a clean city and lots of charm are also factors.
Best Places to Live in California
The migration to California continues every year, with many people considering this sunny state one of the best places to live in the United States. It’s a liberal Mecca that offers water sports and beautiful beaches along hundreds of miles of Pacific Coast.
If you’re looking for a small community with a focus on the outdoors, Bishop and Mammoth Lakes are two great locations. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, lakes, rivers, and national forests, both of these towns combine adventure with welcoming, close-knit communities. The cost of living is a bit lower than most of the state of California and schools are all solidly grounded, with lots of individual student attention and unique learning opportunities.
Ventura, California is a haven for those who want to avoid the exorbitant cost of housing that’s taken over most of the state. Although still pricey by national standards, homes in Ventura are about 30% less costly than in nearby Santa Barbara. Ventura has become a high tech center, with plenty of jobs for those with advanced degrees and technical savvy. It’s also the home base of sports giant Patagonia.
Sacramento is also often noted for its exceptional beauty, wide range of cultural activities and very good school systems. This is a diverse community with an active social life on weekends and in the evenings. Two rivers converge here as well, offering canoeing, kayaking and hiking trails for the nature lover. If you love the city, you’re only 75 miles from the San Francisco Bay area.
Best Places to Live in Texas
Texas is another place with no income tax that is often cited as one of the best places to live in the United States. The superb public health care system is one of the reasons most often cited. Lower income families can get far better health care at little or no cost in Texas than in most other states. Dedication to infant and children’s’ health is apparent in the state’s many well-child health offerings. Add in the lack of income tax and you’ve got a great base for young families.
The only draw-back to life in Texas is the varying quality of public schools. Some are very good, while others are suffering from a lack of funds and overcrowding. Be sure to check out the school systems in any area you’re considering living in. On a positive note, Texas’ dedication to personal freedom translates to their take on schooling – cyber schools and home schooling abound in this state, with excellent results.
Austin is considered the best place to live in Texas by many magazines, organizations and even by many Texans who don’t live there. The town is noted for being quirky and independent. It’s a liberal enclave in a conservative state, and this dual personality is evident everywhere you turn in Austin. In fact, the unofficial city motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” Artists and bohemians love Austin for its casual, laid-back style, which is very different from the more atmosphere of Dallas or Forth Worth.
Austin is a technically savvy town with lots of computer and technology companies. There are also at least five major universities in and around Austin, giving it a youthful feel and plenty of energy. It’s a musical hot spot with lots going on (Austin City Limits) and an edgy, environmentally aware sensibility that owes a lot to its 1960’s roots.
Corpus Christi is a great choice if you love the beach. White sand beaches, clear waters and lots to do make this a smaller city with big city amenities. The museums and aquarium are top notch, and families will love the tidy, friendly downtown area.
In the end, the best places to live in the United States are the places that fit your family’s needs. Do a bit of research by visiting different state and city websites to discover what each location has to offer, then compare to what is most important to you. With so many beautiful small towns and bustling cities to choose from, you’ll soon find that there are many places that make the list of the best places to live in America.