Best places to live in every state
What do you seek in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for current or future children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?
Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2019 rankings. Only towns and cities with populations over 15,000 were considered. Niche ranks places to live based on many factors, including the cost of living, educational attainment, housing, and public schools.
Many cities on the list are suburbs experiencing growth thanks to rapid improvements in their metropolitan areas. That could be the creation of new rail systems or a mega-corporation moving in. Other entries include planned communities or older cities that have revamped their communities with grassroots efforts focusing on greener ways of living, drawing in new businesses, or increased devotion to the arts. Towns with large colleges regularly appear, as prestigious universities not only employ thousands of workers but provide a rich amount of recreation and educational offerings for families.
There are a few well-known locales on the list. For example, a New Jersey college town steeped in Ivy League tradition offers a small-town vibe with historic architecture. Idaho’s entry proves the state is about more than just potato production, and the most populous city in Alaska offers a rare mix of arctic culture and modern economics. Then, of course, there is the town that owes its affluence to Walmart, and the Southern city that is the proud home of the trash pandas.
Each slide includes the city’s population, median home value, median rent, and median household income. More details on Niche’s methodology can be found here. Whether you’re thinking of relocation or are big on hometown pride, click through to find the best places to live in every state.
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- Population: 47,079
- Median home value: $239,400 (70% own)
- Median rent: $879 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $92,197
In April, Madison, Alabama, will become the home of a new minor league baseball team, with arguably one of the most eccentric names in sports: the Trash Pandas. The city is building a new stadium to welcome the Trash Pandas (slang for raccoon), and if that’s not appealing enough, Madison also has top-ranked schools, is bordered by the city of Huntsville, and has several small business incentives.
[Pictured: Hunstville, AL, which neighbors Madison.]
- Population: 298,225
- Median home value: $304,500 (60% own)
- Median rent: $1,261 (40% rent)
- Median household income: $82,271
Anchorage is Alaska’s most populous city and a center for culture. It is the starting point of the annual Iditarod race, but locals and visitors can try out dog-sledding in less competitive atmospheres, along with numerous other outdoor adventures like gold panning, fishing, and rafting. The Anchorage Museum pays tribute to Alaska’s history.
Arizona: Catalina Foothills
- Population: 50,202
- Median home value: $410,200 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,020 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $82,252
Catalina Foothills, Arizona, is surrounded by the picturesque Santa Catalina mountains, luxury shopping, resorts, and museums. Nearby, the University of Arizona has a notable presence, including its operation of Biosphere2. With these resources nearby, Catalina Foothills is one of Arizona’s most affluent locales.
- Population: 44,601
- Median home value: $203,800 (54% own)
- Median rent: $883 (46% rent)
- Median household income: $79,259
Bentonville, Arkansas, could also be called Walmartville. The city, in the northwest corner of the state, is the home of Walmart, a company that has left its stamp on the town (just check out the Walmart Museum). If the history of retail isn’t your bag, Bentonville also houses the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is home to several craft fairs, and is close to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.
- Population: 120,179
- Median home value: $861,800 (43% own)
- Median rent: $1,523 (57% rent)
- Median household income: $75,709
The University of California, Berkeley, is one of the key factors in this Bay Area city’s name recognition, but Berkeley offers more than high-quality education. The city has shown a dedication to civic arts and fostering business—Peet’s Coffee began in Berkeley, for instance. The city also provides easy access to San Francisco and Oakland.
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Colorado: Highlands Ranch
- Population: 105,264
- Median home value: $407,200 (81% own)
- Median rent: $1,740 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $116,973
This planned community right outside of Denver was founded in 1981. Cargill, Kraft, DirecTV, and JPMorgan Chase are just a few of the companies with major posts nearby. For nature lovers, Highlands Ranch offers 19 parks and 60 miles of trails.
Connecticut: West Hartford
- Population: 63,360
- Median home value: $326,000 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,258 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $95,298
Aficionados of fall foliage can find some of nature’s best colors in the West Hartford Reservoirs. Even outside of the fall months, this city is becoming a favorite place to live because of its farmers' markets, museums, and nearly 400-year-old churches. The University of Hartford and the University of Saint Joseph both have campuses in town.
- Population: 20,754
- Median home value: $282,200 (79% own)
- Median rent: $1,133 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $87,375
Middletown, Delaware, is one of the state’s fastest-growing areas and is expected to double in population in the next 20 years. One reason for the growth is an Amazon facility in town. Elsewhere, the St. Andrew’s School has been a notable boarding school for almost 100 years, and was the site of the film “Dead Poets Society.”
- Population: 23,287
- Median home value: $326,400 (58% own)
- Median rent: $1,375 (42% rent)
- Median household income: $91,634
[Pictured: Tampa, FL, located next to Westchase.]
- Population: 22,022
- Median home value: $418,700 (67% own)
- Median rent: $866 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $92,263
Decatur, Georgia, offers easy travel into Atlanta via its train stations and U.S. 78. Stone Mountain is a short drive away, while inside the city limits are small higher education institutions like Agnes Scott College and Columbia Theological Seminary. Recreation options include visits to the Decatur Ghost Tour and the Decatur Artway.
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