Best Places to Live

2015 Top 100 Best Places to Live

NEW: See our Updated 2017 Ranking of the Best Places to Live!

 As Livability’s editors and writers crisscross the U.S in search of great stories, we find that time and again, the best tales are told in the Main Street diners, corner churches, park benches and even the mayor’s offices of small to mid-sized cites and towns. Far from letting time pass them by, these communities are doubling down on livability for their residents. Our second-annual ranking of the Top 100 Best Places to Live celebrates the work they are doing. As with our Top 100 Best Place to Live 2014 ranking, we worked with globally-known partners to analyze the best public and private data sources. We were advised by the leading thinkers, writers and doers in the place-making space. Some new places make the list, some move up or down and some continue to score well, no matter what the metric. More than 2,000 cities were ranked, so every city on this list is in the top 5 percent of livable communities in the U.S. Spend some time getting to know them, and when it comes time for your next move, maybe you'll think small.

  • 51

    Bismarck, ND

    Population: 66,980
    LIV
    SCORE
    630

    North Dakota's capital is Bismarck, a city that hosts six colleges along with prominent retail and health-care sectors. Sanford Health is the largest employer with 25,000 workers, and residents can enjoy a large park system and many exercise trails. The 19-story, art deco North Dakota State Capitol is one of the city's most popular attractions.

  • 52

    Helena , MT

    Population: 29,600
    LIV
    SCORE
    630

    The capital of Montana, Helena has more than 30 percent of the workforce connected to government positions. A mountainous landscape makes Helena ideal for outdoor recreation activities like skiing, mountain biking, fishing and hunting, and a high-achieving education system is highlighted by Carroll College and Helena College University of Montana.

  • 53

    Irvine, CA

    Population: 238,474
    LIV
    SCORE
    630

    Irvine is a progressive city with an economy deep-rooted in technology and semiconductor companies, and CNNMoney.com ranks the community among the Best Places to Live in America. Irvine houses 10 college and university campuses as well as highly regarded public schools, and more than 60 Hollywood movies have been filmed within the city.

  • 54

    Reno , NV

    Population: 234,161
    LIV
    SCORE
    629

    There's much more to Reno than casinos and comedy shows. This city offers a jackpot of outdoor activities, a thriving arts scene and affordable housing options. Located a short drive from Lake Tahoe, a high concentration of ski resorts and more than 50 golf courses, Reno's downtown overflows with nightclubs, art galleries, restaurants and music venues.

    See why Reno is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 55

    Olympia, WA

    Population: 48,941
    LIV
    SCORE
    629

    The capital of Washington is a cultural center for the Puget Sound region, with many theatrical organizations and institutions of higher learning that include The Evergreen State College and Saint Martin's University. The main employer in Olympia is government – there are 20,000 state employees and another 10,000 in local government.

  • 56

    Santa Cruz, CA

    Population: 62,752
    LIV
    SCORE
    629

    On the northern edge of Monterey Bay sits Santa Cruz, known for its scenic vistas and redwood forests. The University of California, Santa Cruz is a major research institution, while community amenities include Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Natural Bridges State Beach. Principal industry sectors are in agriculture, tourism and high technology.

  • 57

    West Des Moines , IA

    Population: 61,266
    LIV
    SCORE
    629

    Rated one of the best markets for millennial homebuyers, West Des Moines provides residents with an array of amenities that range from golf courses and nature parks to an expansive mall and top-rated schools. It's one of the richest cities in Iowa and attracts young professionals and families looking for large homes.

  • 58

    Honolulu , HI

    Population: 347,973
    LIV
    SCORE
    628

    Honolulu is the state capital of Hawaii, and its Waikiki Beach welcomes millions of vacationers each year who contribute more than $10 billion to the area economy. Other major economic sectors in Honolulu represent manufacturing, military defense and research, and the city is served by five colleges that include Chaminade University and the University of Hawaii.

    Here's why Honolulu is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 59

    Eau Claire , WI

    Population: 67,385
    LIV
    SCORE
    628

    Meaning “clear waters” in French, Eau Claire is situated along the scenic Eau Claire River and bills itself as the Horseradish Capital of the World. The city enjoys a thriving music scene while four colleges serve the community, and its main employment sectors are in health care, retail and education.

  • 60

    Ashland , OR

    Population: 20,556
    LIV
    SCORE
    627

    Home to Southern Oregon University as well as the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland also features outdoor amenities that include a paved inter-city bike trail and green spaces like a 93-acre Lithia Park. The community features several historic buildings that have been preserved and restored, with 48 structures on the National Register of Historic Places.