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.
A college town and best known as home to Michigan State University, East Lansing is just east of the state capital and features more than 25 individual neighborhoods. The city’s bustling downtown district is highlighted by Grand River Avenue, which features a number of restaurants, bars, small shops and nightlife venues. The local economy is robust in sectors such as agriculture, education, healthcare, law and technology.
With three golf courses, numerous parks and 24 public tennis courts, Aberdeen is considered a college town thanks to the presence of Northern State University and Presentation College. Outdoor recreation choices are plentiful with hiking trails, winter ice rinks and Richmond Lake, and arts-based highlights include Aberdeen Community Theatre and an annual South Dakota Film Festival. Residents can also utilize Aberdeen Regional Airport.
An attractive downtown district and convenient access to Interstates 75 and 696 are among the attractions of living in Royal Oak, home to the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak Music Theatre and the Landmark Main Art Theatre. The community has excellent restaurants and popular nightspots, and other livability amenities include William Beaumont Hospital and an Oakland Community College campus.
Along the shores of Lake Superior is the seaport community of Duluth, which welcomes thousands of vessels each year that sail to-and-from the Atlantic Ocean. The city is a regional center for aquatic science, aviation, healthcare, retail and technology, and Duluth houses Great Lakes Aquarium, the nation’s only all-freshwater aquarium. Residents have access to the University of Minnesota Duluth as well as numerous parks and Interstates 35 and 535.
The capital of Iowa, Des Moines is one of the wealthiest cities in America and a major center for the U.S. insurance industry. The city has an extensive overhead skywalk system downtown, and local college options include Drake University and Grand View University. Data processing centers for Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook are hugely successful, and Des Moines offers residents 76 parks and four major hospitals.
Nicknamed “The Garden City,” Missoula is in western Montana along the Clark Fork River and amidst five mountain ranges. The community is a college town thanks to the University of Montana, and Missoula has appeared on the Best Cities to Live list four consecutive times. Good housing options and dining spots add flavor to the community, and Missoula is world renowned for its top-notch trout fishing.
In north central North Dakota is Minot, a healthcare and retail hub for northern North Dakota, southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba. Home to Minot Air Force Base, transportation advantages include three major U.S. highways and Minot International Airport, and college students can attend Minot State University. Good fishing is available along the Souris River that bisects the city.
More than 25 individual neighborhoods and numerous parks are among the advantages of living in Richland, whose economy is led by large agriculture, research and technology companies. At the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima rivers, Richland has outdoor adventure attractions like boating, fishing, kayaking, waterfowl hunting and water skiing, and livability luxuries include Kadlec Regional Medical Center, good public schools and Washington State University, Tri-Citie
Often used as a locale for motion picture filming, the landscape beauty of redwood forests, lakes and vineyards are among the reasons why Santa Rosa has made the Best Cities to Live list for four consecutive years. Large shopping malls, three healthcare systems, several colleges and easy access to the Pacific Ocean add to the quality of life, and Santa Rosa enjoys a thriving downtown area.
Situated within the Dulles Technology Corridor is Ashburn, which houses many high-tech businesses and is part of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. George Washington University and Strayer University have campuses in Ashburn and is home to historic parks and monuments. The family-oriented community has no shortage of employment and the Washington D.C. area is in close proximity. Beaverdam Creek Reservoir highlights the city’s many outdoor recreation options.