What makes a great place to live? Schools, job opportunities, nightlife ... All of it matters.
The city review website Niche recently ranked America’s best cities to live in, based on crime statistics, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities and local amenities. Ranking is based on data from the U.S. Census bureau, the FBI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources.
Locals give this city an A-plus in the fields of nightlife and the all-important short work commute.
Here, a symbol associated with the late singer Prince is shown in the days following his death in 2016. Weather? Not surprisingly, more like a C-plus.
24. Columbia, Missouri
The cost of living in this college town received the so-so grade of C-plus, but the education level of its residents? A-plus.
23. Fort Collins, Colorado
For residents, the choices in outdoor activities are a highlight of living in this city. Here, a Colorado State Rams cheerleader supports her team at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins.
22. Tempe, Arizona
The weather gets an A-plus from locals here (all the better for baseball spring training), but the city gets a middling C-minus when it comes to cost of living.
21. Seattle, Washington
Cost of living is steep here, but at least the coffee is strong ... along with, according to locals, the Seattle night life.
20. The Woodlands, Texas
Ironically, The Woodlands isn’t tops in outdoor activities or weather. But job opportunities and an educated populace appear to make up for that.
19. Provo, Utah
Locals love so many things about this city that it’s hard to highlight just one. But nightlife, short commutes and health and fitness are all considered tops here.
18. Austin, Texas
With its famous live music scene, it should come as no surprise that locals love Austin’s nightlife. But its diversity gets a top grade as well.
17. Naperville, Illinois
For residents of Naperville, an A-plus public school system is a main draw.
16. Richardson, Texas
Along with its roadside wildflower program, this town has plenty going for it, including, locals say, good public schools and notable diversity.
15. Round Rock, Texas
Another place where residents love the public schools: Round Rock, considered part of greater Austin.
14. San Francisco, California
Expensive? Of course. (The cost-of-living grade here is D-minus.) But if you’re a local, you may not care, given the excellent weather and nightlife.
13. Alexandria, Virginia
If you crave outdoor activities and a decent nightlife, Alexandria may be the city for you. The downside is that it isn’t the greatest place to live if you like saving money.
12. Sunnyvale, California
Any town that doubles as the headquarters of a giant company such as Yahoo has to be doing something right. According to locals, the public schools are great, and so is the weather.
11. Irvine, California
Locals like to joke about the beige color that seems to be everywhere in the residential architecture. But you know what else is everywhere in Irvine? Sunshine. And plenty of fun outdoor activities.
10. Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue ranks high in the health and fitness category, which rates access to medical care, as well as public schools.
9. Rochester, Minnesota
If you hate sitting in a car (and, really, who doesn’t?) then this city’s short commutes should be a big draw.
8. Berkeley, California
Berkeley is another city that can’t boast a particularly great cost of living, but its diversity gets top marks from locals.
7. Boulder, Colorado
Residents have plenty to love about this city; they have high praise for everything from public schools to work commutes.
6. Overland Park, Kansas
This town comes in at No. 6 and is consistently ranked as one of the best cities for raising children, growing up and retiring.
5. Plano, Texas
Jobs, schools, night life: Residents of Plano say there’s a lot to love about their city.
4. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, one of the leading research universities in the world, so it’s no wonder that its public schools are also rated A-plus.
3. Columbia, Maryland
This city boasts a vibrant nightlife.
Here, artist St. Vincent performs at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in Columbia.
2. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Home of the famed Harvard University, Cambridge gets an A-plus in family amenities and diversity, as well as public schools.
1. Arlington, Virginia
OK, sure: This is technically a county. But it’s also categorized as the second-largest principal city of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, so it’s going on the list.
Home to major monuments such as the Pentagon Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington also comes in at No. 1, scoring an A-plus in public schools, nightlife and family amenities.
For more info: Niche