The 20 Best Places To Live In America

Madison wisconsinyoungryand / Shutterstock.comMadison, Wisconsin, topped this year’s ranking of the best places to live in the U.S.

There are plenty of benefits to living in big cities like New York and San Francisco.

But do they really offer the highest quality of life?

Residential resource company Livability recently released its annual list of the 100 best places to live in the U.S., looking at factors like access to schools, hospitals, and infrastructure; affordability and income; and how residents take advantage of those opportunities. (You can read the complete methodology here.)

Livability looked at more than 2,000 small- to mid-sized cities in the U.S., with populations ranging from 20,000 and 350,000 to compile its ranking.

20. Eugene, Oregon

Located near the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, Eugene is an outdoorsy city with tons of water sports and a health-conscious attitude. The city is also home to the University of Oregon and has numerous performing arts and culture venues.

Population: 156,222

Median Household Income: $US41,525

Median Home Price: $US244,600


17. Overland Park, Kansas

Livability gave Overland Park, the second-largest city in Kansas, high marks with regards to its sports facilities and schools. The city attracts families and young professionals with a good balance of residential, retail, and office space.

Population: 174,503

Median Household Income: $US72,074

Median Home Price: $US224,300


16. Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara has beautiful beaches, shopping centres, performing arts venues, and microbreweries. It also has a solid health care and education system, with a strong economy thanks to tourism.

Population: 88,572

Median Household Income: $US63,758

Median Home Price: $US880,500

15. San Mateo, California

San Mateo, in California's Silicon Valley, has a large downtown district with more than 800 stores and restaurants. The city also has more than 15 parks, including the Japanese Tea Garden, along with many historical buildings.

Population: 97,322

Median Household Income: $US87,662

Median Home Price: $US719,700


14. Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue's strong point is its education with its highly-ranked public schools, and the presence of two colleges with Bellevue College and City University of Seattle. Additionally, the city gets high marks for its natural beauty with Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.

Population: 122,873

Median Household Income: $US88,073

Median Home Price: $US541,600


13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, and filled with school pride. The city has more than 300 restaurants located in a 20-mile radius as well as great schools, medical facilities, culture and more.

Population: 114,725

Median Household Income: $US53,814

Median Home Price: $US231,700


12. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville has a strong public school system and healthcare system, with places like Asheville VA Medical Center and Mission Health System. The southern city also hosts tons of attractions with nightclubs, performance venues and microbreweries.

Population: 83,796

Median Household Income: $US42,333

Median Home Price: $US195,500


11. Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman is home to the large Montana State University, making it a typical college town. There are also plenty of options for outdoors activities like skiing and hiking, while the economy is growing with tech and research-based companies.

Population: 37,619

Median Household Income: $US44,818

Median Home Price: $US259,000


10. Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City has a ton of culture, with ties to literary greats John Irving and Flannery O'Connor. The University of Iowa is also located in the city, which gives it a strong community full of entertainment and the arts.

Population: 68,364

Median Household Income: $US42,220

Median Home Price: $US181,000


9. Boise, Idaho

With the Rocky Mountains close at hand, Boise is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. But there's also a home for cerebral types in the 'City of Trees,' thanks to unique museums and a strong university system, as well as great healthcare options.

Population: 208,332

Median Household Income: $US49,182

Median Home Price: $US188,200


8. Missoula, Montana

Thanks to nearby mountains, rivers, and 400 acres of parkland, Missoula provides plenty of entertainment for those who love the outdoors. There's also plenty of culture as well with breweries, coffee houses, independent bookstores, and music venues.

Population: 66,982

Median Household Income: $US39,076

Median Home Price: $US238,300


6. Berkeley, California

Aside from hosting the campus of the highly regarded UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Bay town is a foodie haven, landing on Livability's lists of top 10 foodie cities in 2013 and 2014. The city also has cultural attractions such as museums, galleries, and theatres.

Population: 112,662

Median Household Income: $US63,505

Median Home Price: $US707,700


5. Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto is the center of Silicon Valley, and one of the most expensive cities in the country. A 31-mile dark fibre ring around the city provides ultra high-speed Internet access, and there's an emphasis on education and open spaces, creating a politically active and socially minded population.

Population: 64,514

Median Household Income: $US122,482

Median Home Price: $US1,000,000


3. Arlington, Virginia

Arlington is an upscale city in the suburbs of D.C. with a large population of government employees. It is home to both George Mason University and Marymount University, along with the famous Arlington National Cemetery.

Population: 209,077

Median Household Income: $US102,459

Median Home Price: $US577,300


2. Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester has a booming arts culture, thanks in part to the founders of the Mayo Clinic, who wanted to attract top physicians to the city. It also has a stable economy, as well as tons of restaurants and shops.

Population: 106,903

Median Household Income: $US63,490

Median Home Price: $US165,300


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