The 20 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money

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New List Claims These Are the Best Places to Live in the US

Finding a great job that comes with a significant salary boost is one of the top reasons to move to a new city.

In its recently released ranking of the best places to live in America, US News & World Report gathered data on the 100 most populous US cities. Among the factors it considered were affordable housing, a low cost of living, good schools, quality healthcare, and access to well-paying jobs. You can read US News' full methodology here.

Business Insider reranked these cities based on median annual salary to find the 20 where residents earn the most. They don't all rank highly on US News' overall list, given higher costs of living and other factors, so we've included each city's overall ranking for comparison's sake. For instance, Chicago ranks at No. 20 in terms of salary, but it only came in at No. 90 on the list of 100.

Of the 100 best places to live in America, here are the 20 where you can land the highest-paying jobs:

The 20 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money
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The 20 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money

20. Santa Rosa, California

Population: 491,790

Median annual salary: $49,800

Overall rank on best places to live list: 62

Photo credit: Getty

19. Chicago, Illinois

Population: 9,516,448

Median annual salary: $50,410

Overall rank on best places to live list: 90

Photo credit: Getty

18. Portland, Oregon

Population: 2,288,796

Median annual salary: $50,710

Overall rank on best places to live list: 20

Photo credit: Getty

17. Houston, Texas

Population: 6,204,141

Median annual salary: $50,830

Overall rank on best places to live list: 17

Photo credit: Getty

16. Worcester, Massachusetts

Population: 924,722

Median annual salary: $51,330

Overall rank on best places to live list: 65

Photo credit: Getty

15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Population: 6,015,336

Median annual salary: $51,740

Overall rank on best places to live list: #82

Photo credit: Getty

14. Sacramento, California

Population: 2,197,422

Median annual salary: $51,970

Overall rank on best places to live list: 68

Photo credit: Getty

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Population: 3,424,786

Median annual salary: $52,080

Overall rank on best places to live list: 12

Photo credit: Getty

12. Baltimore, Maryland

Population: 2,753,396

Median annual salary: $52,460

Overall rank on best places to live list: 67

Photo credit: Getty

11. Los Angeles, California

Population: 18,241,809

Median annual salary: $53,000

Overall rank on best places to live list: #83

Photo credit: Getty

10. San Diego, California

Population: 3,183,143

Median annual salary: $53,020

Overall rank on best places to live list: #16

Photo credit: Getty

9. Denver, Colorado

Population: 2,651,392

Median annual salary: $53,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 1

Photo credit: Getty

8. New Haven, Connecticut

Population: 863,148

Median annual salary: $53,350

Overall rank on best places to live list: 88

Photo credit: Getty

7. Hartford, Connecticut

Population: 1,215,159

Median annual salary: $55,580

Overall rank on best places to live list: #59

Photo credit: Getty

6. Seattle, Washington

Population: 3,557,037

Median annual salary: $57,370

Overall rank on best places to live list: 7

Photo credit: Getty

5. New York City, New York

Population: 20,799,260

Median annual salary: $59,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 96

Photo credit: Getty

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 4,650,876

Median annual salary: $60,540

Overall rank on best places to live list: #30

Photo credit: Getty

3. Washington, DC

Population: 5,863,608

Median annual salary: $64,930

Overall rank on best places to live list: 8

Photo credit: Getty

2. San Francisco, California

Population: 4,466,251

Median annual salary: $64,990

Overall rank on best places to live list: 9

Photo credit: Getty

1. San Jose, California

Population: 1,898,457

Median annual salary: $75,770

Overall rank on best places to live list: 10

Photo credit: Getty


20. Santa Rosa, California

Population: 491,790

Median annual salary: $49,800

Overall rank on best places to live list: 62

Just 55 miles north of San Francisco sits Santa Rosa, one of Sonoma County's premier wine-country towns. According to US News' local expert, Santa Rosa is an originator of the farm-to-table movement and "a haven for bicyclists, who train on its rural western roads and visit en masse for two major cycling events: the Amgen Tour of California and the Levi's GranFondo."

The job market in Santa Rosa is powered by tourism: 9% of residents work in the industry, mainly at local farms, wineries, and brewpubs.

19. Chicago, Illinois

Population: 9,516,448

Median annual salary: $50,410

Overall rank on best places to live list: 90

The Midwest's largest city may have a couple of drawbacks, including frigid winters and a high cost of living, but Chicago is also host to a bevy of corporations — 31 in the Fortune 500 — that can set residents up with a high-paying salary, including Boeing, United Airlines, Kraft, and Allstate.

Chicago also has a dynamic restaurant scene — far more than just the deep-dish pizza the city is famous for — as well as world-class museums, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Lollapalooza music festival.

18. Portland, Oregon

Population: 2,288,796

Median annual salary: $50,710

Overall rank on best places to live list: 20

Portland isn't for everybody — its slogan is "Keep Portland Weird," after all. But one local expert asserts that it's a "well-rounded city with more than just the offbeat shops and events" and a population that has "more academic degrees than the national average." An annual job-growth rate of 2.9% per year is attributed to roots in the technology sector, including major employer Intel Corp., as well as the 6,000-employee headquarters for Nike, about 7 miles outside Portland.

17. Houston, Texas

Population: 6,204,141

Median annual salary: $50,830

Overall rank on best places to live list: 17

Houston is a major player in the oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries — it's also home to 26 Fortune 500 companies. According to one local expert, "a paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major cities, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions." Plus, the city has an affinity for food, counting some 11,000 restaurants within its boundaries.

16. Worcester, Massachusetts

Population: 924,722

Median annual salary: $51,330

Overall rank on best places to live list: 65

Though by no means small, Worcester offers a more pastoral atmosphere than many cities its size — known for its rolling hills and nearly 500 acres of parks. A dynamic healthcare sector, including several hospitals and medical-research universities, furnish many residents with lucrative careers.

15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Population: 6,015,336

Median annual salary: $51,740

Overall rank on best places to live list: #82

With top-notch colleges and robust health, finance, and education sectors, workers who live in Philadelphia earn competitive salaries from companies like Wells Fargo and the University of Pennsylvania.

The City of Brotherly Love also has a thriving food scene and a passionate sports culture. Tread carefully if you plan to support a rival of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, or 76ers.

14. Sacramento, California

Population: 2,197,422

Median annual salary: $51,970

Overall rank on best places to live list: 68

As California's state capital, Sacramento is a desirable place to live thanks to a healthy job market, especially in construction, technology, and healthcare. The tourism sector is also growing, hosting multiple conventions and sporting events, including cycling tours and marathons.

The city is also a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, providing abundant green spaces and easy access to several national parks and forests.

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Population: 3,424,786

Median annual salary: $52,080

Overall rank on best places to live list: 12

The Twin Cities have "big-city amenities like museums and sports stadiums, but also have an approachable, Midwestern feel," according to a local expert. Residents are accustomed to the area's changing seasons, participating in ice fishing and cross-country skiing in the winter and music festivals and baseball games in the spring and summer. Jobs are available in science-focused fields at companies like Xcel Energy and Medtronic as well as retail corporations like Best Buy and Target.

12. Baltimore, Maryland

Population: 2,753,396

Median annual salary: $52,460

Overall rank on best places to live list: 67

Baltimore — aka Charm City — has experienced an influx of new residents in recent years and a growing bioscience industry that's created a slew of employment opportunities at places like Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

According to a local expert, Baltimore has a flourishing dining scene, timeless and elegant architecture, and a small-town feel that's cherished by locals.

11. Los Angeles, California

Population: 18,241,809

Median annual salary: $53,000

Overall rank on best places to live list: #83

The country's second-largest city has, well, everything to offer. From mountains and deserts to forests and beaches, there's no shortage of sunny, outdoor activities at the fingertips of Los Angeles' millions of residents and visitors. The job market is varied, too, with top employers in manufacturing, transportation, trade, and business. And the city's "creative economy" provides more than 355,000 jobs in museums, fashion and design, and entertainment.

There's an "intoxicating mix of free-spirited hope and relentless ambition [that is] the defining characteristic of Los Angeles residents," shared one local expert.

10. San Diego, California

Population: 3,183,143

Median annual salary: $53,020

Overall rank on best places to live list: #16

With year-round sunshine and beautiful beaches to boot, it's easy to enjoy living in San Diego. According to US News, this Southern California gem "offers world-class dining, professional sports, and entertainment options" for college students, young professionals, and families.

Tourism is a huge industry in San Diego — which sees more than 30 million visitors annually — but the city's seaside location is more than just eye candy. Some of the area's largest employers include the US Navy and the Marine Corps.

9. Denver, Colorado

Population: 2,651,392

Median annual salary: $53,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 1

While Denver sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains, it's not considered a mountain town, since it takes at least an hour to get to the Rockies for snowboarding and ski activities, a local expert said.

At 5,279 feet, the Mile High City lives up to its name in more ways than one. In 2012, Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, paving the way for a flourishing and lucrative cannabis industry.

8. New Haven, Connecticut

Population: 863,148

Median annual salary: $53,350

Overall rank on best places to live list: 88

The small seaside town of New Haven combines "New England charm and global cosmopolitanism," making it the "cultural capital of Connecticut," according to a local expert. The city is home to Yale University, which has long attracted politicians, artists, and innovators to the area, and it's also known for its New Haven-style pizza.

Healthcare, education, and social services are the largest job sectors in New Haven, in part because of the university and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

7. Hartford, Connecticut

Population: 1,215,159

Median annual salary: $55,580

Overall rank on best places to live list: #59

Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the US, once home to famous literary figures Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Its location in the Connecticut River Valley provides residents with "rolling hills and wooded neighborhoods" in addition to nearby mountains, state parks, and vineyards, said a local expert.

Aerospace, healthcare, insurance, and financial companies have become the largest industries in Hartford. Top employers include United Technologies Corp., Hartford Hospital, and Aetna Inc.

6. Seattle, Washington

Population: 3,557,037

Median annual salary: $57,370

Overall rank on best places to live list: 7

Seattle is sandwiched between water and mountains and doesn't get as much rain as you'd think, said one local expert. The city's residents are drawn to the area for its atmosphere of "calm and patience" and its close proximity to nature. Jobs in Seattle are concentrated in the tech, healthcare, and maritime industries, but the city is also a huge manufacturing center for companies like Boeing.

5. New York City, New York

Population: 20,799,260

Median annual salary: $59,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 96

The largest city in America is a melting pot for the world's cultures. With five boroughs and dozens of neighborhoods, New York City has endless options for entertainment, cuisine, and recreation. Its cost of living is among the highest in the US, and one local expert said people often move to "the city that never sleeps" to "test the adage 'if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.'"

As the financial capital of the US, the city is a global hub for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, including Pfizer, Verizon, and Goldman Sachs. Plus, the unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 4,650,876

Median annual salary: $60,540

Overall rank on best places to live list: #30

Boston attracts a diverse group of residents, including everyone from recent college graduates to retirees and musicians to engineers. The historical city — often referred to as the "Cradle of Liberty," according to one local expert — also overflows with team spirit for the Red Sox, who boast an equally rich history.

3. Washington, DC

Population: 5,863,608

Median annual salary: $64,930

Overall rank on best places to live list: 8

The District's neighborhoods each give off their own vibe, but across the city residents often "gather for block parties, mingle at dog parks, and converse at coffee shops," explained a local expert. While Washington, D.C. is known as a hub for politics, there's also a strong job market for education and health services.

2. San Francisco, California

Population: 4,466,251

Median annual salary: $64,990

Overall rank on best places to live list: 9

A local expert described San Francisco as "the heart of the bohemian lifestyle, the epicenter of the LGBT rights movement, and the launching point of the technology era." In the last decade, thousands of tech companies have raced to set up shop in the Bay Area, sending the cost of living through the roof. But despite all the focus on the tech and startup scene, the city also has plenty of business jobs available with more than 30 international finance headquarters.

1. San Jose, California

Population: 1,898,457

Median annual salary: $75,770

Overall rank on best places to live list: 10

The sprawling city of San Jose is "as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district," said a local expert. Young residents and recent graduates of nearby Stanford and UC Berkeley have no trouble finding jobs in the area, which touts Cisco, eBay, and IBM as its largest private-sector employers.

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US News 20 Best Places to Live
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The 20 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money

20. Portland, Oregon

Metro Population: 2,288,796 
Median Home Sale Price: $297,200
Median Annual Salary: $50,710 

This Oregon city known for its quirky residents and natural beauty is a highly sought-after destination, voted one of the most desirable cities in a U.S. News-commissioned Google Consumer Survey. While its population growth from net migration and job market are in the middle of the pack, Portland's widely known reputation for being a friendly, laidback city earns it a top spot in our rankings.

(Photo via Getty)

19. Charleston, South Carolina

Metro Population:697,281
Median Home Sale Price: $209,450
Median Annual Salary: $42,770

Also voted a highly desirable place to live, Charleston is rich in history and real estate – with historical homes and municipal buildings dating back to the 18th century. While it's less than a third of the size of the Portland area in population, Charleston's metro region has seen a significant number of people moving there in recent years, with the population growing more than 6 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

(Photo via Alamy)

18. Omaha, Nebraska

Metro Population: 886,157 
Median Home Sale Price: $139,000
Median Annual Salary: $43,330

Omaha has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the top 20, and with a short commute time, the area's residents don't spend much time in traffic. The Midwestern city has a low cost of living compared to its median annual salary, allowing people to keep a larger portion of their paychecks in their pockets. 

(Photo via Getty)

17. Houston, Texas

Metro Population: 6,204,141
Median Home Sale Price: $190,00
Median Annual Salary: $50,830

Houston ranks high in population growth from net migration – more than 300,000 people relocated to the Houston area between 2010 and 2014. With a healthy job market and decent cost of living compared to other metros of its size, Houston residents are some of the most satisfied with their lives in the country, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

(Photo via Getty)

16. San Diego, California

Metro Population: 3,183,143
Median Home Sale Price: $477,500
Median Annual Salary: $53,020

Southern California sun and warm temperatures are enough to entice many people, as San Diego ranks among the most desired places to live in the country. San Diego also ranks highly for students’ college readiness compared to other ranked metro areas. But the hot location and great education do come at a cost – San Diegans spend nearly 40 percent of their paychecks on living expenses.

(Photo via Getty)

15. Charlotte, North Carolina

Metro Population: 2,298,915
Median Home Sale Price: $184,600
Median Annual Salary: $48,290

The large number of people relocating to Charlotte and a relatively low cost of living compared to the area's median annual salary put the Queen City in the top 20. Gallup’s Well-Being Index also reveals Charlotte’s residents are on the whole more satisfied with their lives than most other metro areas in the country. But Charlotte’s not the only North Carolina city to rank highly for residents’ well-being – another spot in the state is even higher on the Best Places to Live list.

(Photo via Getty)

14. Sarasota, Florida

Metro Population: 722,784
Median Home Sale Price: $226,750
Median Annual Salary: $39,960

Sarasota's sunshine and prime location for retirees makes it a highly desired place to live, according to a U.S. News-commissioned Google Consumer Survey of people across the country. And people are acting on it. Sarasota has one of the highest rates of population growth from net migration out of all the metro areas in the top 20. The tourism industry doesn’t help the cost of living, though, with residents spending more than 38 percent of the median annual income on living expenses.

(Photo via Getty)

13. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Metro Population: 1,007,329
Median Home Sale Price: $149,475
Median Annual Salary: $41,350

This Michigan city avoids the traffic of larger cities, boasting a short average commute time. Other perks include a low crime rate and high college readiness scores among schoolchildren. Located a bit off the beaten path, roughly halfway between Chicago and Detroit, Grand Rapids’ low cost of living means residents are only spending about 28 percent of the median annual income on necessary expenses.

(Photo via Getty)

12. Minneapolis

Metro Population: 3,424,786
Median Home Sale Price: $218,250
Median Annual Salary: $52,080

Minneapolis scores well for its job market, being home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Target Corp. It’s also home to the Skyway, an indoor walkway connecting commercial buildings throughout the downtown area, allowing people to travel throughout the city without having to go outside during the cold winter months. In addition to high employment rates, the cost of living compared to income is low. The area’s low rates of property and violent crime help to push it further up the list.

(Photo via Getty)

11. Des Moines, Iowa

Metro Population: 590,741
Median Home Sale Price: $169,550
Median Annual Salary: $46,600

With a low cost of living, Des Moines ranks the second highest for value in the country, bested only by the No. 3 overall city on our list of Best Places to Live. The Iowa capital has had solid population growth through net migration in recent years, bolstered by an unemployment rate below 4 percent, a low crime rate and short commute time.

(Photo via Getty)

10. San Jose, California

Metro Population: 1,898,457
Median Home Sale Price: $777,600
Median Annual Salary: $75,770

The capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose reigns supreme for its job market and median annual salary. The area also scores highly for its schools, with the fourth highest college readiness scores of the 100 metro regions ranked. But those quality schools come at a hefty price – San Jose is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Even with higher average salaries, the cost of living means residents are spending a larger portion of their paycheck and saving less.

(Photo via Getty)

9. San Francisco, California

Metro Population: 4,466,251
Median Home Sale Price: $646,250
Median Annual Salary: $69,350

With a healthy job market and high salaries, San Francisco’s connection to the tech industry makes it a sought-after destination for startups and new employees alike, ranking seventh for desirability out of the 100 metro areas considered. The schools in the metro region are also some of the best ranked in the country, putting San Francisco in the fourth slot for college readiness. However, San Francisco beats out San Jose for higher cost of living, and residents have less disposable income. 

(Photo via Alamy)

8. Washington, D.C.

Metro Population: 5,863,608
Median Home Sale Price: $375,700
Median Annual Salary: $65,890

The nation’s capital ranks third for its job market, following only San Jose and San Francisco, and has the third highest median annual salary. The Washington area’s schools have a high average college readiness score as well, though the region is also one of the costliest in the country to live in, and it has the second worst commute of the 100 ranked metro areas.

(Photo via Getty)

7. Seattle, Washington

Metro Population: 3,557,037
Median Home Sale Price: $362,468
Median Annual Salary: $59,130

Home to business giants Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft, it’s no question Seattle is one of the highest-ranking metro areas for its job market. Long a destination for those in the tech industry, Seattle was voted one of the top 10 most desirable cities. Seattle’s proximity to Puget Sound and mountains to the east make it a top spot to visit for tourists throughout the year.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

6. Boise, Idaho

Metro Population: 639,616
Median Home Sale Price: $232,500
Median Annual Salary: $41,550

Idaho’s most populous city is also the least dangerous of the 100 ranked metro areas, with the lowest combined violent and property crime rates, per the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting. While it’s smaller than most cities in the top 20, Boise has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the top 10 and is one of the most affordable as well.

(Photo via Alamy)

5. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Metro Population: 669,070
Median Home Sale Price: $221,725
Median Annual Salary: $46,520

Highly desired by people surveyed across the country – beat out only by Honolulu – Colorado Springs isn’t the only city in the Centennial State to make it into the top five. Though it has the slowest population growth from net migration of all the 10 highest ranking metro areas, Colorado Springs is one of the most affordable for residents, allowing the median annual salary to go further than other cities.

(Photo via Getty)

4. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Metro Population: 1,714,629
Median Home Sale Price: $215,730
Median Annual Salary: $50,310

Thanks to the likes of Duke University’s nationally and regionally ranked health system, the Raleigh-Durham metro area has exceptional health care quality and availability. In addition to Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and more than a dozen other colleges in the area make it a hub for academics and college-age residents, helping earn the area its title as the Research Triangle. Raleigh-Durham also has the second highest population growth from net migration of those cities in the top 10.

(Photo via Getty)

3. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Metro Population: 483,396
Median Home Sale Price: $177,200
Median Annual Salary: $42,410

Fayetteville beat out every other city on the list in value – meaning it’s the most affordable for residents compared to the average income. Fayetteville edges out the busier cities in the top 20 with a short average commute time to work, a big factor in quality of life for people surveyed. Home to the University of Arkansas and the Wal-Mart headquarters, Fayetteville is the fastest-growing city in Arkansas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

(Photo via Getty)

2. Austin, Texas

Metro Population: 1,835,016
Median Home Sale Price: $240,000
Median Annual Salary: $48,150

The capital of Texas has seen major growth in recent years, with a 9 percent population growth rate from migration between 2010 and 2014. With an increasing level of technology startups and a growing job market, the host of the annual SXSW festival is seeing an influx of younger generations, attracted by the common slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.” Austin came in as a very close second to the No. 1 spot on U.S. News Best Places to Live, coming in less than one-tenth of a point behind the top city.

(Photo via Getty)

1. Denver, Colorado

Metro Population: 2,651,392
Median Home Sale Price: $301,300
Median Annual Salary: $53,060

The Mile High City is a burgeoning tech hub and a popular destination for millennials looking to start their careers. Voted the fourth most desirable city in a survey of people from across the country, Denver has one of the healthiest job markets in the country and has an above-average median annual salary, which goes further than in more expensive cities like Austin, Raleigh-Durham or Seattle.

(Photo via Getty)


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