This latest rankings of the best places to live demonstrates the importance of affordability in today’s real estate landscape. The top 10 cities have one thing in common: they tend have a lower cost of living – particularly for housing.
24/7 Wall St. created an index of over three dozen socioeconomic measures to identify the 50 best places to live in American. Their full list and commentaries can be found here. Let’s quickly focus on the top and bottom of the list.
The Bottom 10 (although still ranked higher than hundreds of other U.S. cities):
- Franklin, Tennessee
- Kirkland, Washington
- Bend, Oregon
- Nashua, New Hampshire
- Springdale, Arkansas
- South Jordan, Utah
- Orem, Utah
- Appleton, Wisconsin
- Layton, Utah
- New Rochelle, New York
Of the Bottom 10: Bend, Oregon is one that stands out as making the list due to its “high incomes and a low cost of living. The typical household earns $60,784 a year, about $3,000 more than the typical American household. Goods and services are also an average of 2.6% less expensive in Bend than they are nationwide.
This is a trend that is found throughout the Top 50, but especially in the Top 10.
The Top 10:
10. Raleigh, North Carolina
9. Columbia, Maryland
The typical Columbia household earns $107,164 a year. This is well above the median income nationwide of $57,617. As is the case in many of the best cities in the country, goods and services are considerably more expensive in Columbia.
However, the area’s high incomes are more than enough to offset the high costs, though it might be worth using the City vs City App to check that assertion!
8. O’Fallon, Missouri
People living here tend to be relatively affluent. However, while similar cities tend to be more expensive, O’Fallon is relatively affordable. The typical household in O’Fallon earns approximately $85,000 annually. When adjusted for the area’s low cost of living, the value of the median household income is closer to $90,000.
7. Naperville, Illinois
Many of the city’s most educated residents likely commute to high-paying jobs in neighboring Chicago. The typical Naperville household earns $116,482 a year, the 12th most of any city nationwide.
6. Dale City, Virginia
Dale City residents have relatively easy access to the entertainment and cultural amenities of nearby Washington D.C. While nationwide the typical home costs 3.6 times the U.S. median income, in Dale City the typical area home is worth about 3.1 times the city’s median household income.
5. Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Wealth is often a byproduct of affluence, and Highlands Ranch is one of the wealthiest cities in the country. The typical household earns $114,288 a year, or about double the national median household income
4. Johns Creek, Georgia
3. Arvada, Colorado
2. Centennial, Colorado
A low cost of living and high incomes contribute to widespread prosperity in the area. The typical Centennial household earns $102,200 a year, and only 2.7% of the population lives in poverty.
And Number 1…
1. Carmel, Indiana (suburb north of Indianapolis)
According to 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, there is no better city to live in the United States than Carmel, Indiana. People who live there are healthy, wealthy, and well-educated. Carmel is also relatively inexpensive, making the already high incomes of its residents go even further.
The typical household earns $113,194 per year. However, goods and services cost only about 90 cents on the dollar in Carmel compared to the national average. This makes the effective median household income equivalent to more than $125,000 when adjusted for cost of living.
Wrapping It Up
Notice how the 1st and 2nd place cities reference a low cost of living relative to an above average median income. In fact, all of the top 10 place have one thing in common; a relatively low cost of living. This is true when compared to national averages and even more true when compared to major urban areas such as New York or San Francisco.
Also worth noting is the regions of the U.S. that appear to be represented more than others. Specifically the interior of the U.S. has strong representation. It also looks like Colorado is about to see some immigration as it has three cities in the Top 5!
In general, these types of rankings are great at incorporating multiple socioeconomic metrics so that all the factors that make a place livable can be captured in a single number.
That said, what has always been elusive for these rankings is an accurate accounting of the true cost of living ; one that accounts for the various types of taxes residents can expect to pay on top .
Obviously, the patent-pending tech of City vs City can provide that missing link, which is why we have plans to work with the producers of these types of rankings in the future. Stay tuned!