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.
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.
Median Household Income: $US41,525
Median Home Price: $US244,600
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.
Median Household Income: $US72,074
Median Home Price: $US224,300
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.
Median Household Income: $US63,758
Median Home Price: $US880,500
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.
Median Household Income: $US87,662
Median Home Price: $US719,700
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.
Median Household Income: $US88,073
Median Home Price: $US541,600
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.
Median Household Income: $US53,814
Median Home Price: $US231,700
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.
Median Household Income: $US42,333
Median Home Price: $US195,500
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.
Median Household Income: $US44,818
Median Home Price: $US259,000
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.
Median Household Income: $US42,220
Median Home Price: $US181,000
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.
Median Household Income: $US49,182
Median Home Price: $US188,200
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.
Median Household Income: $US39,076
Median Home Price: $US238,300
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.
Median Household Income: $US63,505
Median Home Price: $US707,700
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.
Median Household Income: $US122,482
Median Home Price: $US1,000,000
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.
Median Household Income: $US102,459
Median Home Price: $US577,300
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.
Median Household Income: $US63,490
Median Home Price: $US165,300