2016 Top 100 Best Places to Live
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.
Located south of Salt Lake City, Murray provides residents with highly rated health care, great schools and recreational amenities that draw people from the surrounding region. Murray has one of the lowest city tax rates in Utah, and its top employer is the Intermountain Medical Center. A collection of parks surround the city’s core. See where Murray ranked on the Best Places to Live 2014.
With three colleges in addition to Western Washington University, education is a driving force in Bellingham. Residents enjoy a community with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene and top-notch health care. There are many things to do in Bellingham throughout the year. The beautiful San Juan Islands and North Cascades lure many people outdoors for recreational opportunities. It’s easy to see why Bellingham is Top 100 Best Place to Live.
In the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area is Novato, where the median income for families exceeds $100,000. Several biotech firms are headquartered in the city, and residents can receive top medical care at Novato Community Hospital. The Novato Unified School District has garnered a number of academic accolades and is the city's largest employer with 1,200 workers. Quality of life amenities include several scenic public parks.
The largest city in Maine is Portland, a major New England seaport that features many distinct neighborhoods. Portland Public Schools and its 7,000 students is the largest school system in Maine, while about 230 restaurants give Portland the distinction of having the most restaurants per capita of any city in America. A thriving arts district has interesting venues, especially for residents and tourists who visit the Congress Street area. See where Portland ranked on the Best Cities for Affordable Health Care.
Offering beautiful views of the Laramie Mountain Range and the North Platte River, Casper provides a great setting for families with children and those with a passion for the outdoors. The energy industry drives the economy in Casper, which features a high-rated school system that includes Casper College. Home to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper is often used as a basecamp for tourists.
Known as “The Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana,” Bloomington has been a Tree City USA community for 30 years and is best known as home to Indiana University Bloomington. Being a college town (picked as one of the Best College Towns in 2012) of 42,000 students, the median age for residents is less than 24 years old. Key economic sectors in Bloomington include life sciences, advanced manufacturing and technology, and entertainment venues along with shopping destinations, such as College Mall and Fountain Square Mall.
Named for its great view of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mountain View is part of Silicon Valley and home to numerous high-tech companies, led by Google and its 11,000 employees. The median income for families is more than $120,000, and the city’s primary cultural area is its downtown district along Castro Street. Shoreline Park is a popular gathering spot thanks to an amphitheater and golf course, and El Camino Hospital tends to the medical needs of many residents.
A strong educational system anchored by the University of Kansas, great health care and numerous amenities have made Lawrence a repeat city on the Top 100 Best Places to Live. Lawrence has also been ranked one of the Top 10 College Towns, and offers a strong economy anchored by the agriculture, finance and research industries. Residents enjoy a vibrant cultural scene and views of the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers.
Located on a variety of natural and man-made barrier islands, Miami Beach is known for its nightlife, sizzling beaches, art scene and high-end restaurants. While beautiful scenery draws tourists year round, new residents are attracted to the schools in Miami Beach, as well as the city’s stable economy and high volume of amenities, which include bike trails, beaches and a network of buses. Miami Beach has appeared on the Best Places to Live list since 2014.
Outdoor lovers can’t help but admire the natural beauty that surrounds Bothell, from dense forests to pristine rivers. The city’s small-town vibe has made it a draw for families, while its well educated workforce has attracted several biotechnology companies that have boasted the local economy. Anchoring the educational system in Bothell is Cascadia College and the University of Washington branch.