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.
One of the most affluent cities in Iowa is Ankeny, located just north of Des Moines and with an economy strong in agriculture, education, manufacturing and retail. Transportation advantages include Interstate 35 and U.S. Route 69, and students can attend Ankeny Community School District as well as Des Moines Area Community College. Among the local attractions is a Historic Uptown Shopping District
A beautiful city with the Rocky Mountains nearby, Longmont has a potent economy led by education, technology and tourism sectors, and students have top academic choices with St. Vrain Valley Schools and Front Range Community College. A prosperous downtown features many restaurants, shops and entertainment sites, and Longmont has a network of paved trails that lead to more than 75 works of art.
Designated as a Tree City USA, Ellicott City is part of the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area and features a downtown district located along the Patapsco and Tiber rivers. Residents can travel along highways like Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 29, and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy numerous paths and trails along with a popular Centennial Park.
In the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area is San Rafael, home to Dominican University of California and China Camp State Park. Kaiser Permanente meets the medical needs of residents, and community amenities include top restaurants, arts venues and upscale shopping opportunities. Several movies have been filmed in San Rafael, and the city has appeared four times on the Best Cities to Live list.
With 70 public schools, 16 private schools and two college campuses, education plays a key role in the economy of Plano. Also contributing to the city’s livability are the advanced manufacturing, banking and technology industries, and citizens have access to three performing arts venues, several parks and a wide selection of home choices. Also convenient to residents is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport only 20 minutes away.
A bedroom community north of the Santa Monica Mountains, Camarillo features a Mediterranean-type climate that results in temperatures in the 70s during most of the year. A downtown district called Old Town offers award-winning restaurants and uncommon stores, and Ventura Freeway is a convenient and valuable transportation thoroughfare for residents. Also in Camarillo are 27 parks, St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital and California State University, Channel Islands.
On the banks of the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers is Lawrence, a beautiful city and home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. A dynamic music and arts scene is readily available to residents and students, and the downtown area is an exciting entertainment and nighttime destination. The local economy continues to grow in sectors like agriculture, education, finance and scientific research.
Home to the University of Nebraska, the state capital of Lincoln has appeared four times on the Best Cities to Live list. Festivals, highly rated restaurants, nightspots and a bustling downtown help to make quality of life exciting, and this Midwestern community has 125 parks, three major hospitals and is strong in economic sectors like education, finance, government, insurance, IT, railroads, telecommunications and truck transport.
The capital of Wyoming, Cheyenne’s economy is paced by government jobs as well as top employment opportunities in the energy, railroad and technology industries. Laramie County Community College serves the city, and residents have the convenience of three interstates that pass through Cheyenne. A number of parks and trails are in place, including a well-managed 37-mile Greater Cheyenne Greenway system.
With 14 scenic parks and a Cottonmill Lake Recreation Area, Kearney is a beautiful city with multiple recreation options and an attractive quality of life. Academic choices include the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and vital healthcare needs are met at Good Samaritan Hospital. The city also hosts an annual two-day Kearney BBQ on the Bricks Festival in late August.