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Having a good quality of life is undoubtedly the American dream. So here at Dollar Hand we’ve looked at the top cities where you can potentially achieve the best standard of living.

With individuals all having different ideals and preferences, we weighed up a variety of important factors including work-life balance, affordability, unemployment rates, healthcare options and safety levels to name a few. Elements such as weather and leisure facilities on offer also played a significant role in revealing the potential quality of life Americans could have in a location. 

With all of these features differing from place to place, Dollar Hand has compiled a list of what we recommend as the Top 15 US Cities With The Best Quality Of Life. Our findings are largely based on data from the NeighborhoodScout and the 2020 American Community Survey by the US Census Bureau which helped to shed light on the best spots

 

How We Determined Our List

We analyzed over 600 strong contenders to come up with the Top List of Cities with the Best Quality of Life in the U.S. Using data from the the NeighborhoodScout and the 2020 American Community Survey by the US Census Bureau we looked at the following key topics:

Work-life balance – By assessing the mean number of hours worked per week, and the average time it took to commute to work, we could get an insight into whether residents had a healthy work life balance, and in turn a good quality of life. We also assessed the unemployment rate to determine the job market. 

Affordability – Looking at the main costs of living through key data such as median monthly homeowner costs and median monthly rent provided good indicators of whether residents experienced manageable finances.

Wellbeing – Evaluating health insurance coverage was extremely important, as well as crime rate per 1,000 residents to determine how safe a community felt in their day to day life. 

Our internal scoring system took all of the above factors into account to provide an overall score of the cities with the best quality of life. In this case, the lower the score, the stronger the contender. 

 

Key Findings

Capitals Are Strong Contenders – We found that many of the cities that offer the best quality of life are capitals. With Lincoln, Des Moines and Austin all featuring on this list, it is clear that metropolises can offer a great standard of living.

The Outdoors Are Popular – A common theme within our chosen 15 top places is the variety of outdoor amenities available within the cities. Residents are able to enjoy the tranquility of nature through outdoor parks, botanical gardens, golf courses, trails, rivers, lakes and beaches set amongst picturesque landscapes.

 

The Top 15 US Cities With The Best Quality Of Life 

 

1. Erie, Pennsylvania

With a winning score of 21.22, we have crowned Erie as the city with the best quality of life in the US. Not only is Erie one of the most beautiful places in America, it is extremely appealing due to the city’s low cost of living, as shown with the lowest median monthly homeowner cost in the study of $698 and median monthly rent of $693. Situated on the south shore of Lake Erie, the area is commonly known as the ‘Gem City’ due to the water’s gem-like appearance when the sun is out.

Beaches and trails, theme parks and water parks, museums and a thriving nightlife all keep residents busy. Better yet, only 4.5% of the population are without health insurance and there is a relatively low crime rate of 28.94 per 1,000 residents. 

Erie

 

2. Dothan, Alabama

Home to over 70,000 residents, this delightful city offers a fantastic place to have a good quality of life. With hot summers and mild winters, residents can enjoy the outdoors with places such as the breathtaking Dothan Area Botanical Gardens and Highland Oaks Golf Course, and there are a plethora of shops, culinary delights, museums, monuments, theater shows, music concerts and art attractions too. Dothan boasts a low unemployment rate of 3.3% and provides a laid back environment to live in with a good school system and colleges as well. 

 

3. Kenner, Louisiana

A particularly attractive quality of Kenner is the cost of living which is significantly lower than the national average, with a median monthly homeowner cost of $822 including items such as groceries and utilities. The city has a good health cost index at 87.4, as well as a school district that offers excellent education, with a solid teacher to student ratio, extracurricular programs and high graduation rates. 

Living in Kenner has an urban feel and the wide variety of activities available means that you’ll never be bored. Whether you want to visit outdoor parks, restaurants and casinos or enjoy a family day out on the lakefront bike riding, sailing or picnicking, the city has it all!

 

4. Columbus, Georgia

With a strong score of 26.85, you are sure to have a good quality of life in Columbus. The suburban environment is ideal for all ages, with lots to do including visiting the vibrant downtown or exciting attractions such as the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and the National Civil War Naval Museum. Walking or biking along the Chattahoochee Riverwalk means that outdoor lovers can thrive, especially since there’s also the longest urban whitewater course in the world and a zip line across the river. 

columbus

 

5. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa is a dynamic city, renowned for outdoor recreation, exceptional dining, a vibrant cultural scene and its’ art deco architecture. Not only is Tulsa a safe and affordable place to live, but community wellbeing is a key ethos of the city. A short average commute time to work of 18.6 minutes helps the labor force to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  

 

6. Westland, Michigan

Populated with over 80,000 residents, this family-friendly city ranks sixth as a strong contender for having a good quality of life. With a low crime rate of 14.41 per 1,000 residents and a solid average work week of 38.5 hours, it is not difficult for residents to enjoy a comfortable and relaxed environment. There is an abundance of parks, restaurants, coffee shops and schools all within walking distance of suburban neighborhoods.

 

7. Largo, Florida

Home to spectacular white sandy beaches and beautifully preserved historic structures, Largo is a picturesque delight. With calming botanical gardens and championship golf courses, as well as lots of shopping centers and recreational facilities, this wholesome city does not disappoint. With a low median monthly homeowner cost of $716 per month and only a 3.1% unemployment rate, Largo offers a great place for all residents, whether they are old or young. 

largo

 

8. Greeley, Colorado 

Known for being the agricultural center of the sugar beet industry, Greeley does not disappoint. The city boasts top-notch amenities including a superb health care system and reputable schools, as well as a plethora of cultural attractions and recreational activities. In particular, Greeley excels with its short average time worked per week of 38.1 hours.

 

9. Lincoln, Nebraska

As the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln is a striking city. Home to a wealth of cultural attractions and museums, residents enjoy fulfilling lives with lots to do such as strolling through the historic Haymarket District, watching an American football game at Memorial Stadium or relaxing in the Sunken Gardens. Lincoln is also a university city with an active and vibrant atmosphere, and offers a great work-life balance with the shortest average work week in the study of 37.4 hours, as well as a particularly low unemployment rate of 2.5%.

lincoln

 

10. Des Moines, Iowa

This desirable city offers a fantastic quality of life, with an affordable cost of living, sound employment levels and a short average commute to work of just 19.1 minutes. Iowa’s capital also scores well on health insurance coverage as only 6.4% of the population are without it. From enjoying live music and local produce at the Downtown Farmer’s Market to visiting contemporary collections at the Des Moines Art Center, residents are sure to be entertained with the variety of recreational activities on offer. 

 

11. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls offers a sound standard of living with an affordable median monthly rent of $849 and a nice average commute time to work of 16.7 minutes. The city is also tied first in our analysis for its low unemployment rate of 2.1%. Falls Park features the Big Sioux River which is a main attraction, as well as Sertoma Park’s butterfly house and aquarium. 

sioux-falls

 

12. Austin, Texas

It is no surprise that there is high desirability amongst Americans to live in Austin! The state capital of Texas is relatively affordable, with a $960 median monthly homeowner cost. Home to the University of Texas’ flagship campus, the inland city borders the Hill Country region and is known for its diverse music scene including the blues, country and rock genres. As a nature haven, the abundance of parks and lakes are enjoyed amongst hikers, bikers, swimmers and boaters alike. 

 

13. Overland Park, Kansas

As the largest suburb in the Kansas area, Overland Park does not disappoint. The delightful city has a low unemployment rate of 2.3% and there’s only on average a 20 minute commute to work. As a great place to live, work and play, it’s no surprise that the populace totals at nearly 200,000 people.

Located in Johnson County, the city boasts a low crime rate of 22.01 per 1,000 residents and only 5.6% of the population are without health insurance. The affordable city also has excellent schools and plenty of business opportunities.

overland-park

 

14. Carmel, Indiana

Home to over 100,000 residents, Carmel is sublime. Commonly known for being one of the safest places to live in, Carmel boasts a particularly low crime rate of 6.58 per 1,000 residents. Only 2.8% of residents are without health insurance and the unemployment rate is low at 2.7%. 

The mean time to get to work is only 24.4 minutes which means commuters can enjoy Carmel’s renowned restaurants, art scene and leisure activities after they have finished their day job. With outdoor experiences including several walking and bike trails, it is no surprise that the town has seen an influx of nature enthusiasts. 

15. Scottsdale, Arizona

This desert city in Arizona is extremely luxurious yet affordable at the same time. Scottsdale boasts a low unemployment rate of 2.1% and 94.6% of the population have health insurance.

With majestic golf courses and deluxe spa resorts, Scottsdale is a very safe area with a low crime rate of 22.4 per 1,000 residents. Better yet, this city benefits from roughly 330 days of sunshine each year and provides the perfect place to live for young adults, families and retirees alike since there are ample job opportunities, fantastic schools, restaurants, shopping centers and nightlife. 

scottsdale

 

Data Findings: Top 15 US Places With The Best Quality Of Life

Rank Place Average Time Worked Per Week (Hours) Average Commute Time To Work (Minutes) Unemployment Rate (%) Median Monthly Homeowner Cost ($) Median Monthly Rent ($) Percentage Of Population Without Health Insurance (%) Crime Rate Per 1,000 Residents Score
1 Erie, Pennsylvania 37.6 19.8 3.3 698 693 4.5 28.94 21.22
2 Dothan, Alabama 39.3 19.5 3.3 791 734 10.7 39.80 23.39
3 Kenner, Louisiana 39.5 26.0 3.8 822 890 12.9 29.48 26.05
4 Columbus, Georgia 39.4 20.3 4.9 879 885 12.0 39.07 26.85
5 Tulsa, Oklahoma 39.2 18.6 4.1 920 827 16.7 60.82 26.95
6 Westland, Michigan 38.5 25.8 3.1 966 855 5.6 14.41 27.26
7 Largo, Florida 39.4 23.6 3.1 716 1,197 13.2 25.99 28.83
8 Greeley, Colorado 38.1 24.7 5.6 1,217 1,129 9.9 30.30 29.11
9 Lincoln, Nebraska 37.4 18.9 2.5 1,065 877 7.7 30.57 29.13
10 Des Moines, Iowa 38.3 19.1 4.2 1,098 872 6.4 46.31 29.78
11 Sioux Falls, South Dakota 39.4 16.7 2.1 1163 849 7.7 36.29 30.20
12 Austin, Texas 39.6 24.6 3.2 960 1,523 12.8 42.91 37.23
13 Overland Park, Kansas 39.5 20 2.3 1,542 1,196 5.6 22.01 40.39
14 Carmel, Indiana 40 24.4 2.7 1714 1,209 2.8 6.58 42.85
15 Scottsdale, Arizona 40.6 19.8 2.1 1,478 1,471 5.4 22.4 43.42

 

Justine Gray

Justine is a full-time writer, specializing in household income and consumer finance across the US.