When choosing where to live, Americans consider a variety of factors. For some, the quality of schools is important. For others, the strength of the local economy or personal safety takes priority.
To determine America's best cities to live in, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the 550 areas measured by the U.S. Census Bureau with populations of 65,000 or more.
Based on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, educational attainment, and housing affordability, 24/7 Wall St. identified America's 50 best cities to live.
Because of its importance, the labor market was one of the key measures we used to identify the best cities. In order to be considered, a city needed positive employment growth between 2011 and 2013 and an unemployment rate of no more than 9.8%, roughly one-third higher than the national rate last year.
We also measured the availability of certain amenities. According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, access to outdoor activities, beautiful parks and sports clubs "are the type of amenities that often will set apart certain communities from others."
Many of the best cities are located near major cities, as this proximity provides residents with access to good schools and safe neighborhoods, while also allowing them to enjoy the amenities available in the nearby larger cities.
However, none of America's largest cities were among the nation's best places to live. Nearly all of these had crime rates that automatically excluded them from consideration. Additionally, more than half of these cities had poverty rates above 21.1%, or 33% above the national average, making them ineligible.
- Median household income: $125,642
- Unemployment rate, 2013: 4.80%
- Median home value: $689,900
- Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 87.6
- Average commuter travel time: 26.4 minutes
A suburb of Boston, Newton is 24/7 Wall St.'s best city to live in. Crime rates were just a fraction of national figures in 2012. And while total employment rose only 0.5% between 2011 and 2013, the city's unemployment rate remained below 5% during the same period.
Students have access to excellent schools. While nearly half of all school-age residents attended private schools, test scores in Newton's public schools were far better than public schools across the state. Additionally, more than three-quarters of residents 25 and over had a bachelor's degree, the second-highest rate in the country. Residents of Middlesex County, where Newton is located, can take advantage of 49 golf courses, nearly 3,000 restaurants, 24 museums and three ski resorts in their free time.
Living in Newton costs more than living in most of the United States, and more than most places in Massachusetts for that matter. This may explain may explain why it had the highest median income of any large city, at over $125,000.