There’s a common denominator that all the best cities in the United States have. They’re safe, with excellent schools, plentiful jobs, things to do, and low crime rates.
The best places in the United States are where everyone wants to live. High home prices indicate excess demand, so if home prices are too low, it’s a sign it’s a bad place to live. If crime is high, no one wants to live there.
The cities below all share the qualities people prefer in a town. There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.
To determine the best places to live in America, we looked at the most recent Census data for income, home prices, and unemployment rate. We then merged that data with FBI crime data, education, and points of interest data to measure crime and amenities.
After analyzing the 219 most populated cities in the country, here is our list of the best places to live in America.
We understand there are good parts in every city in the United States. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘ friendly people’ and community involvement), these are the best places in America to call home. We updated this article for 2023. This report is our tenth time ranking the best places to live in America.
What’s the best place to live in America? The best place to live in America for 2023 is Naperville according to the most recent data from the Census and FBI.
The worst place to live in America? Memphis. More on that later.
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The 10 Best Places To Live In America For 2023
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $433,400 (50th best)
Median Income: $135,772 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (44th best)
More on Naperville:| Cost Of Living
And where’s the best place to live in America? On paper, Naperville, Illinois is the best place to live in America according to the most recent Census and FBI data.
This Chicago suburb is plain loaded. There’s barely any place in the country where families bring in more money per capita. If being near wealthy people where crime is something that simply happens in other cities is a place that sounds good to you, then Naperville is your spot. Money Magazine always sings the praises of Naperville, and Kiplinger called it the best place in America to retire.
Plus, the public libraries in Naperville rank as the best in the land, and the downtown area of Naperville is just so charming, who wouldn’t want to live here?
You may have heard it before — Sunnyvale is simply an amazing place to live. Sunnyvale, California has been known around the streets as a great place to live, according to our unbiased data. It’s the 2nd best place to live in America. Why? Well let’s take a peek.
First off it would be hard to find a better place to raise kids then in this Silicon Valley city, which has the highest home values in the country. You can make the case that home prices really do determine how great a place is, because people speak with their cash. Other factors: really low crime, high population density, and just about everyone who wants a job has a job.
And Sunnyvale isn’t just for nerds, either.
What makes Santa Clara particularly desirable? If measuring an area based on the income of its residents is a sign of desirability, then Santa Clara has it made. Folks here are pretty wealthy, earning $150,244 each a year. The schools are great in Santa Clara, and crime is among the lowest in the state.
if you live in the Bay Area, and you say you live in Santa Clara, you get major street cred.
The 4th best place to live in America goes to Cambridge, MA — the better version of Boston. While Boston might have Boston University or Boston College, Cambridge has MIT and Harvard. And while Boston might be an awesome place to live, Cambridge is a bit better.
The median income in Cambridge comes in at a rocking $112,565 and home prices average about $888,000 meaning that there’s big demand to live here. And that makes sense as there are a ton of tech jobs available in the area at big startups like Hubspot or Biogen with big players like Google and Pfizer hosting offices in town.
Cambridge is the kind of place that you can brag to your high school friends about living in at the 15 or 20 year reunion (because there’s no way you’re buying a house there before that).
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $404,300 (57th best)
Median Income: $113,782 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (17th best)
More on Cary:| Cost Of Living
Cary, North Carolina is the 5th best place to live in the US.
Chances are if you live in Cary a car break-in happens once a week, and makes the front page of the local paper. This Raleigh suburb is simply in a class of its own when it comes to a peaceful quiet standard of living.
Practically everyone in this community who wants a job has one, and there’s plenty of technology companies in the region, which is one reason people are flocking here from all over, particularly the Northeast.
The running joke in Cary is that it’s a place where people settle who don’t want to be in Florida, but want to be close to family in the New England region.
Our 6th stop on our tour of the best cities to live in the US, is surprisingly Gilbert, Arizona. Gilbert’s located near Phoenix. Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate over the last 30 year, from only 6,000 people to more than 200,000 people. That means lots of people want to live here. Households in Gilbert bring in about $105,733 annually, which is the highest in the state of Arizona. And crime is just about as low as you can expect for a city of its size.
Gilbert has its downsides. Obviously it’s hotter than blazes in these parts, where you might have to wear an oven mitt to get to work. Some people might not like it that much. Eskimos for example, probably would hate it here.
Thousand Oaks is no stranger to our national lists as it has been one of the richest and safest places to live in America. However, it had always been on the outside looking in when it came to the best places to live in America, but not this year. This year, Thousand Oaks ranks as the 7th best place to live in America.
Why the jump this year? Well, safety improved some relative to the competition, median home values have remained high. and people continue to move into town in droves. The schools have solid score on GreatSchools, there’s great weather being in Southern California, and you’re close to Los Angeles without being too close — all good things in a place.
When you’re in town you should check out the Gardens of the World or Wildwood Regional Park, both excellent family affairs.
Welcome to one of the wealthiest place in America. Now, we’re not speculating that wealth is the main sign of desirability, but in most studies, the ‘better’ places to live happen to also be the wealthiest places. That’s because often, areas where there are high incomes also are areas with great schools, lots of jobs and low crime.
Here in Bellevue, the median household brings in more than $140,252 a year annually. And, this is just about the safest place you can live in the state of Washington. Most of the successful people who commute into Seattle live here.
There’s a reason Bellevue was the fastest-growing city in Washington for a number of years in the early 2000’s.
Torrance, California ranks as the 9th best place to live in America. Here in Torrance, the number of people employed is really high. Part of that’s because it’s located right in the Southern California growing tech scene. Crime here is far lower than in other nearby cities like Long Beach, and it’s not as expensive to live here as it is in nearby Pacific Palisades or Manhattan Beach. However, the average home value here is $840,900, and the income levels are only about $100,215 meaning, yes, Torrance is an awesome place to live but the cost of living is extremely high.
Just like in many of the other California cities we mentioned, people in Torrance have all sorts of opportunities for fun. There’s plenty of shopping in Torrance malls and such.
Welcome to Frisco, Texas. Frisco is actually also the wealthiest place in America, too. Now we’re not going to speculate that wealth is the main sign of desirability, but in most studies the better places to live happen to also be the wealthier places. That’s often because areas where there’s high incomes are also areas with great schools, lots of jobs, and low crime.
Here in Frisco, the average household brings in more than $100,000 a year annually, and this is just about the safest place you can live in the state of Texas. Most of the successful people who commute to the Dallas-Fort Worth area live here. There’s a reason Frisco was named the fastest growing city for a number of years in the early 2000s.
Methodology: How do you decide the best cities in the United States?
To rank the best places to live in America, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a city. It is safe to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do, and a stable local economy.
So, we put together all those criteria to get the best, most complete analysis possible. Using FBI crime data and the 2017-2021 American Community Survey census data, we used these criteria:
- Population Density (The higher the better — meaning there’s more to do for indoor entertainment)
- Lowest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Low Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (High expenditures per student and low Student-Teacher Ratio)
- Low Crime
We looked at the 219 biggest cities in America — those with over 100,000 people per the latest numbers. We then ranked each city from best to worst on each criterion.
Finally, we averaged all the ranks to create the best place to live index. The city with the lowest index, Naperville, is crowned the best place to live in the United States for 2023.
If you’d like to see the complete list of the 100 biggest cities in the US, scroll to the bottom of this report.
Summary: The Best Big Cities in The US
If you’re looking at cities in the U.S. where crime is low, people are wealthy, and the public schools are amazing, this is an accurate list.
If you live in Naperville, or any of the other cities we mentioned, you’re lucky. If you don’t, we’re sure your city is also pretty cool.
Here’s a look at the worst places to live in America according to the data:
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