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Top 100 Best Places to Live

Our third annual ranking of the best small to mid-sized cities in the U.S.

We ranked more than 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000 to come up with our third annual Top 100 Best Places to Live. This is a data-driven list based on more than 40 data points. This year we are proud to have collaborated with world-renowned urbanist Richard Florida and assistant clinical professor Steven Pedigo from the Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities at NYU School of Professional Studies, our new data partners EMSI and our stellar board of advisors in shaping our proprietary methodology and the framework by which we rank the cities. See if your town made this year's list (or the 2015 and 2014 rankings). Get ready to plot your next move, and make one of these best places your best place.

600 = The city’s overall score, based on the weighted sum of the eight component scores.

  • 41614

    Loveland Colorado

    A colorful hot air balloon hovers just above the lake in Loveland, CO. Population: 70093

    What’s not to love about Loveland? Sorry, couldn’t resist. But all kidding aside, this city - at the base of the Rocky Mountains - provides residents with quality health care, a strong economy and lots of things to do. Residents and visitors enjoy touring breweries, going on hikes, playing in the nearby lakes and checking out Loveland’s authentic arts community.

  • 42612

    Newton Massachusetts

    Population: 86945

    A collection of historic homes, highly ranked schools and unique neighborhoods make Newton appealing to those who want to live near Boston, but also enjoy a small-town vibe. A patchwork of 13 villages, each contain their own commercial centers, parks and identities. Newton’s top employers include Boston College, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and TechTarget. Residents and city leaders focus on making Newton one of the Best Cities for Kids. See where Newton ranked on our 2014 Best Places to Live

  • 43611

    Manhattan Kansas

    A view of the Manhattan, Kansas skyline overlooing the Kansas River. Population: 55112

    Recently named to the Top 10 Best College Towns, Manhattan is also one of the best places to live. The city’s connection to Kansas State University shows on many levels, including the economy, entertainment options and overall civic pride. The Aggieville district draws more than just sports fans with a solid lineup of bars, restaurants and shops.

  • 44610

    Lafayette Colorado

    Population: 25812

    In recent years, Lafayette has experienced a rejuvenation of key commercial spaces that provide residents with more shopping and dining opportunities. Located in the rolling hills of the Front Range, Lafayette is just a short drive from both Denver and Boulder. Quality health-care facilities, varied housing options, and a politically and socially active population make Lafayette a great place to live. Residents have access to miles of trails and 19 parks.

  • 45609

    Menlo Park California

    Menlo Park Block Party in Menlo Park, CA Population: 32792

    While it’s been ranked among CNN’s Best Places for the Rich and Single, Menlo Park also appeals to families and retirees. Located in the northern end of Silicon Valley, Menlo Park is home to Facebook’s global headquarters and a highly educated population who strongly supports environmental protection and community improvement projects. See where Menlo Park ranked on our 2015 Best Places to Live

  • 46609

    Columbia Missouri

    Population: 113155

    Considered one of the Top 10 Best College Towns, Columbia attracts a diverse group of newcomers with its excellent health-care system, great schools and high-quality amenities. The University of Missouri plays a big part in Columbia’s economy and culture and is one of the reasons why Columbia has repeated appearances on the Top 100 Best Places to live. Downtown Columbia is filled with restaurants, shops and music venues, and the city’s MKT Trail has been called one of the best urban trails in the country.

  • 47608

    Reno Nevada

    Population: 231103

    Surrounded by 15 ski resorts, more than 50 golf courses and dozens of hiking trails, fishing holes, and mountain drives, Reno is well worth a look. The city’s outdoor activities, arts scene and affordable housing options make a strong case for why Reno is a Top 100 Best Place to Live. For those looking to party, Reno’s nightlife is hard to beat with a downtown full of nightclubs, bars and art galleries. But there are plenty of family-friendly things to do as well.

  • 48608

    Lincoln Nebraska

    A large crowd watches a band during Zoofest in downtown Lincoln. Population: 265811

    There are those who might dismiss Lincoln as just another boring Midwestern city. Let them. It gives more Lincoln to those of us who know why it’s a Top 100 Best Place to Live. The city’s refined restaurants, trendy shopping centers and historic sites are just some of the things residents enjoy. City leaders have done a wonderful job of promoting their city to the younger set, which has companies interested in setting up shop and consistently raises the economy in Lincoln, which is anchored by manufacturing, energy and schools.

  • 49607

    Arlington Virginia

    The downtown skyline in Arlington, Virginia. Population: 220173

    Chief among the reasons why Arlington is a Top 100 Best Place to Live are the city’s strong educational system, growing economy, and thriving arts and culture scene. Residents pay a premium to enjoy historic houses, views of the Potomac River, and proximity to George Mason University and Marymount University. Many Arlington residents work for the federal government, which has several agencies and departments in the city, including the Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Transportation Security Administration. 

    See where Arlington ranked on the Top 10 Healthiest Cities 2015

  • 50607

    Irvine California

    City of Irvine, CA Population: 229850

    Consistently used by Hollywood filmmakers as the setting of major motion pictures, Irvine also consistently ranks as one of the Best Places to Live, starting with our 2014 list. Schools in Irvine are highly rated, and the city’s low crime rate makes it a safe place to live. Home to more than 10 college campuses, Irvine’s economy is rooted in technology and education.


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