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.
Go Gators! The University of Florida and Santa Fe College provide Gainesville with a college town atmosphere where residents and students can savor a variety of dining, shopping and nightclub options. The city is strong in the agriculture, retail and technology industries, and Gainesville offers top medical facilities such as North Florida Regional Medical Center and Shands HealthCare. Popular outdoor recreation spots include Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
With beautiful year-round weather, Santa Barbara has the nickname “American Riviera” thanks to its beaches, Santa Ynez Mountains and popular resort and tourist destinations. Vineyards dot the local landscape, and strong economic sectors include agriculture, education, finance, healthcare, manufacturing and technology. Santa Barbara is a popular retirement community and has appeared four times on the Best Cities to Live list.
The capital of Montana and a city with four distinct seasons, Helena is between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks and features outdoor recreation like boating, fishing, hiking, hunting and mountain biking. More than 30 percent of the local workforce is involved in government positions, and students have academic choices such as Carroll College and Helena College University of Montana. Another livability convenience is Helena Regional Airport.
On the Boise River and home to Boise State University is the capital city of Boise, which has appeared four times on the Best Cities to Live index. The city cultivates entrepreneurs and features a number of interesting neighborhoods, and quality of life amenities include multiple parks, independent restaurants, nightlife venues and outdoor adventure. The downtown BoDo district attracts both locals and college students.
Along the Mississippi River and the largest city on Wisconsin’s western border is La Crosse, a regional hub for shopping, technology and health care. Residents can attend the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Viterbo University, and medical choices include Franciscan Skemp Medical Center (a Mayo Clinic affiliate) and Gundersen Health System. The city has more than 30 active arts organizations.
On the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay is Berkeley, which is a four-time Best Cities to Live recipient and houses the University of California, Berkeley. The city has excellent restaurants, and Shattuck Avenue is a main road for entertainment and nighttime attractions. Berkeley offers scenic neighborhoods and parks, and many residents bike or walk to work or school.
The only city in Montana to surpass 100,000 residents is Billings, an energy center amidst large coal reserves, oil wells and natural gas fields. An extensive trail system and a thriving downtown add to the quality of life, and Billings has two trauma hospitals and three institutions of higher learning. The city offers good housing options, and eight microbreweries are enjoying success.
The upscale community of Burke is a census-designated place where most students attend the Fairfax County Public School System, and residents have the convenience of a good mass transit network. Burke Centre is a major mixed-use development with five subdivisions within that community, and local recreation choices include Burke Lake Park that spans 888 acres complete with a spacious lake and a 4.5-mile jogging trail.
On the banks of the Minnesota River is Eagan, whose major employers include Thomson Reuters, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Coca-Cola. Among the higher education choices are Argosy University and Rasmussen College, and Eagan houses the largest outlet shopping mall in the state. A total of 55 parks, 40 soccer fields and a Cascade Bay Waterpark are among the attractive recreation venues.
Founded in the 1600s, Norwalk is in the New York City metro area and has more than 20 individual neighborhoods and 50 places of worship. Situated near Interstate 95, the city has a strong economy, good schools and top healthcare facilities, and annual celebrations include Norwalk Harbor Splash, Norwalk Oyster Festival and the Round Hill Highland Games that commemorate Scottish culture.