The most livable cities in the US

Finding the perfect city is difficult. You know you want to live somewhere with plentiful high-paying jobs. But you also want to balance a good job with affordable housing. That ideal scenario will allow you to boost your savings and set you on a clear path for financial independence. But there are other important considerations at play. Many Americans desire to live somewhere walkable where the threat of crime is low. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the most livable cities in America.

To rank the most livable cities in America, SmartAsset took a look at seven factors. Specifically, we looked at walkability, violent crime rate, property crime rate, population density, disposable income, housing cost-burdened rate and unemployment rate. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we got our data and how we put it together to create our final rankings.

Key Findings

  • Phoenix metro area has the right ingredients – Three different cities within the Phoenix metro area cracked the top 10. Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale are all very safe cities with good job prospects. Those cities may not be for everyone, though. Each of them leaves something to be desired in walkability.

  • Broad mix of cities – From Arlington on the East Coast to Fremont on the West Coast, this livability study shows that each region has at least a few very livable cities to choose from.

Data and Methodology

In order to find the most livable cities in the U.S., we analyzed data on 100 of the largest cities in America. Specifically, we looked at data for the following seven factors:

  • Walkability. This is calculated on a 0 to 100 scale. A lower number means the city is less walkable, and a higher number means it’s more walkable. Data comes from walkscore.com

  • Violent crime rate. This is the violent crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2016 and 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Database.

  • Property crime rate. This is the property crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2016 and 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Database.

  • Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 1-Year American Community Survey.

  • Population density. Data on city area comes from the 2010 Census Summary File and data on population comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 1-Year American Community Survey.

  • Housing costs as a percent of income. This is the median individual income minus the median housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 1-Year American Community Survey.

  • Housing-cost-burdened rate. This is the percent of households spending at least 30% of their income on housing. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 1-Year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. Then we found each city’s average ranking. We gave each metric full weight, except population density and housing cost-burdened rate, which we gave a half weight. Then we used the average ranking to create our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the worst average ranking received a 0.

Tips for Maximizing Your Savings Rate

  • Cut back on spending – It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to save more money is to spend less money. One of the biggest money sinkholes for people is housing. If you are a renter, maybe it makes sense to find a roommate to live with to put a dent in your rent. If you are a homeowner, maybe it makes sense to see if you can refinance your mortgage to a lower rate.

  • Use the right savings account – You may not think savings accounts can boost your savings rate. After all the APRs offered by many of the biggest banks are just a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. However, if you switch to an online-only institution like Ally or Synchrony, you can access APRs much higher than those traditional banks may offer.

  • Get an expert’s take – Money is stressful. Managing it is complicated, and ensuring that you are making the right decisions is essential. So instead of putting all that extra stress on yourself, why not get an expert’s take on your financial situation? A financial advisor can tell you if you’re saving too much or too little or if you are overexposed to certain risks, to give just two examples. If you are unsure of where to find a financial advisor, check out SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool. It will match you with up to three local financial advisors who fit your investing needs and goals.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

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