Every year, magazines and travel companies research cities across the United States to find the most affordable, best places to live. Cities are ranked by factors such as unemployment rate, housing prices, job opportunities and crime rates. Finding someplace inexpensive to live that is also safe and offers a short commute is an ideal situation, and some cities can deliver.
Many of the best places to live have low unemployment and good job opportunities. Eden Prairie, MN, number one in Money Magazine’s 2010 Best Places to Live, has an unemployment rate of only 5.1 percent amid a population of 64,000. Eden Prairie also has a few major employers, like BOSE and the Minnesota Vikings, but it also has 17 lakes, 125 miles of biking and jogging trails, and lots of shopping available. In Kiplinger’s “50 Smart Places to Live,” Iowa City, Iowa ranked number 10. Aside from employers like toothbrush maker Oral B, this college town has housing prices starting in the low $100,000s. The average commute in Iowa City is less than 20 minutes and the city boasts a lively creative scene with lots of local musicians and artists.
Quality of Life
Its population, access to entertainment, safety and education enhance the quality of life in a town. Kiplinger’s named Nashville, Tenn., as a smart place to live, with its mild climate and affordable housing. It doesn’t hurt that Nashville is an entertainment hub. State College, PA., is at the top of Forbes Magazine’s “60 Cheapest Places to Live.” The median house price in State College is $215,000 and the largest employer is Penn State. The university also contributes heavily to the population. Forbes also points out that State College has some of the safest streets in the country and is listed as the third least stressful small metro area in the U.S. on Bert Sperling’s “Best Places” list.
One of the biggest contributing factors to affordability in a town is the housing market. Money Magazine ranked the 25 most affordable housing markets for 2010 with San Antonio, Texas and Deerfield Beach, Fla. leading the pack. The median housing price in San Antonio is $78, 627. Tourism and biomedicine offer plenty of employment and the town saw a 15 percent increase in job growth in the last decade. Deerfield Beach beats San Antonio with a median home price of $67,000. The low crime rate and year-round nice weather contributes to this town’s appeal. There are also 15 universities within 30 miles, and this Florida town is not strictly a retirement community. The median age is a young 45.
Erin Harty has been writing since 1997. She worked as a reporter and copy editor for "The Argonaut," contributes to a travel blog and has won three Idaho Press Club awards. Erin Harty has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Idaho.