2017 Top 100 Best Places to Live
For the fourth year in a row, our Top 100 Best Places to Live ranked more than 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000 in partnership with The Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities at New York University’s Schools of Professional Studies. The program, directed by renowned urbanists Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo, is training the next generation of 21st-century city leaders and conducting research that will enable them to succeed for the future. Also partnered with us again this year, is the team from Emsi, which models economic data into actionable intelligence for city leaders. Ultimately, 40 data points were used to determine our rankings in the categories of economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education and health care. Visit the links below to see how each city scored in our ranking criteria, review methodology or view the bios of our stellar advisory board.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain lies the city of Burlington, Vermont. With an economy strong in health care and education, Burlington is home to the largest hospital in the state, the University of Vermont Medical Center, as well as the University of Vermont and Champlain College. Conveniently located near two major interstate systems and the Burlington International Airport, Burlington has a solid infrastructure that offers convenience to residents and tourists alike.
Settled in 1630 and home to Boston College, Newton features 13 quiet and safe villages that all have small downtowns of their own. Students have access to good public schools and seven colleges, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital provides top healthcare services. Newton Free Library is the largest library in Massachusetts, and the city has an advanced mass transit system. Newton is also famous for Heartbreak Hill and the late-race role it plays in the annual Boston Marathon.
Appearing four straight years on the Best Places to Live list is Rockville, an upscale city where the median income for families is more than $100,000. The average home price is $475,000, and nearly every home in the city of Rockville is within a short walk to a city park. Rockville is part of the Interstate 270 Technology Corridor that houses many software and biotech companies and federal government agencies.
A first time recipient of Livability's Best Places to Live honor, Ithaca offers the charm of a small town with big city amenities. As one of the Top 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs, Ithaca offers great employment options. Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, Ithaca is known for its contribution to educational opportunity. Health care is instrumental to the community through access to quality hospitals, physicians and health-care providers. With a median home value of $205,000, the housing market in Ithaca provides various real estate options.
Named one of the Top 10 Great Neighborhoods by the American Preservation Association's Great Places in America and one of the Top 10 Best Downtowns by Livability, the upscale city of Franklin is one of the fastest growing cities in Tennessee. Located just outside Nashville, in Williamson County, Franklin has a thriving economy supported by strong health care systems, cutting-edge technology, corporate manufacturing and retail. With median home prices averaging around $315,000 and several homes listed over $500,000, Franklin offers excellent school systems and family-friendly neighborhoods.
Located on the Cache La Poudre River and conveniently along Interstate 25, Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University and tech companies like Hewlett Packard, Intel and National Semiconductor. The city has high-ranking schools, a thriving arts scene and multiple outdoor recreation opportunities, and the median income for families tops $100,000. Fort Collins has a charming Old Town downtown district as well as a thriving beer culture with more than 15 microbreweries.
An affluent city in the San Francisco area, Pleasanton houses numerous high tech industries and more than 220 dining establishments, and the median home price is $725,000. Many stores and historic 19th century buildings line the beautiful downtown area, and the city’s public school system ranks among the top 10 in California. Livability amenities include 1,200 acres of parks, open spaces and trails that are ideal for everyone from young families to retirees.
Located just outside Baltimore, lies the city of Columbia, Maryland. Known for its extensive hospitals and access to quality health care, Columbia offers great options for living a healthy lifestyle. Demographically, Columbia continues to see population growth, and offers a great sense of diversity and community. Economic strengths include solid employment and job growth in the areas of technology, data, research and finance. Education also plays a key role, with both private and public schools offering strong educational opportunities.
Home to the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Department of Defense, Arlington is on the south bank of the Potomac River across from Washington, D.C. The city has higher education options like George Mason University and Marymount University, and home prices average $600,000. Strong public education, a robust arts scene and a growing economy are some of the quality of life advantages, and Arlington is ranked among the healthiest cities in America.
Known as “The Steel City” for its 300-plus steel-related companies as well as “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges, Pittsburgh houses 1,600 technology firms and is located at the confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela rivers. With more than 60 college and universities, Pittsburgh is also a major sports town thanks to the NFL Steelers, MLB Pirates and defending NHL champion Penguins. In addition, a convenience for residents is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.