America’s 50 best cities to live in

By Alexander Kent, Ashley C. Allen, Alexander E. M. Hess, Robert Serenbetz, Thomas Frohlich
24/7 Wall St.

When choosing where to live, Americans consider a variety of factors. For some, the quality of schools is important. For others, the strength of the local economy or personal safety takes priority.

To determine America’s best cities to live in, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the 550 areas measured by the U.S. Census Bureau with populations of 65,000 or more.Based on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, educational attainment, and housing affordability, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s 50 best cities to live.

SPECIAL REPORT: The 50 best cities in America to live in and how they were chosen

Because of its importance, the labor market was one of the key measures we used to identify the best cities. In order to be considered, a city needed positive employment growth between 2011 and 2013 and an unemployment rate of no more than 9.8%, roughly one-third higher than the national rate last year.

We also measured the availability of certain amenities. According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, access to outdoor activities, beautiful parks and sports clubs “are the type of amenities that often will set apart certain communities from others.” Many of the best cities are located near major cities, as this proximity provides residents with access to good schools and safe neighborhoods, while also allowing them to enjoy the amenities available in the nearby larger cities.

However, none of America’s largest cities were among the nation’s best places to live. Nearly all of these had crime rates that automatically excluded them from consideration. Additionally, more than half of these cities had poverty rates above 21.1%, or 33% above the national average, making them ineligible.
24/7 Wall St. is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

50. Westland, Michigan
> Median household income: $43,551
> Unemployment rate, 2013: 5.70%
> Median home value: $83,400
> Violent crime per 100,000 residents: 405.8
> Average commuter travel time: 25.0 minutes Even as Detroit remains in bankruptcy, some of Wayne County’s other cities are not just solvent but thriving. Westland was able to successfully issue new bonds just months after Detroit initially filed for bankruptcy. Bolstered by a low cost of living, steady employment growth and an unemployment rate of just 5.7% last year, Westland’s economy is fairly strong. When not working, residents can enjoy one of the 2,500 restaurants, more than 250 bars, 61 libraries, or 23 golf courses located in Wayne County.For those looking to move to Westland, few areas have more affordable homes. Last year, payments on a median-priced home in Wayne County cost just over 7% of the median household income. Westland homes were also relatively inexpensive compared to those across the state, with a median home value of just over $83,000. However, the real estate market did falter between 2011 and 2013, when home values dropped by 11%, more than in many other cities.
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