The best places to live in the US right now are under-the-radar cities many Americans have never heard of

You might not know about these small cities.

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You might not know about these small cities.
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Rich Lam/Getty Images

  • Many of the best places to live in the US are probably cities you’ve never heard of.
  • MONEY released its 2018 list of best cities to live in, and Frisco, Texas topped the list.
  • Partnered with realtor.com, the ranking looked at cost of living, diversity, public education, crime, economic health, and other factors.

According to MONEY’s 2018 Best Places to Live ranking, the best place in America to settle down is Frisco, Texas.

The town of around 180,000 residents is about 30 miles north of Dallas, and jobs there are forecasted to grow by 15%. According to MONEY, the public school system is excellent, home prices are cheap compared to income, and the weather is peachy, with 232 clear days per year.

Despite its cheery qualities, Frisco isn’t particularly well-known. Most of the cities found by MONEY’s ranking are under-the-radar; next on top of the list are Ashburn, Virginia; Carmel, Indiana; and Ellicott City, Maryland.

To qualify for the ranking, cities had to have populations of 50,000 or greater. Any cities with a lack of ethnic diversity, less than 85% of the state’s median household income, or more than double the national crime rate were eliminated.

Then, the 583 remaining places were judged on more than 135,000 data points – including cost of living, diversity, weather, commute, public education, leisure activities, and economic health.

The coastal not-so elite

Many of the cities that ultimately made the cut were commuter towns and suburbs that fed into cities like Indianapolis, Denver, Detroit, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Notably, the list didn’t include New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles – and their suburbs didn’t dominate the list, either.

While we typically think of those coastal areas as the wealthiest, the most abundant in educational and professional opportunities, and the ones with the best culture, this ranking indicates that the quality of life in those regions might not be up to speed.

Some coastal areas tend to be rife with income inequality. Miami and New York are both among the most unequal cities in the country, according to a Ladders study.

As a result, essentials like affordable housing can be inaccessible in those large metropolitan areas.

In Frisco, the median home price is $349,000 while the median family income is $129,118. For comparison, New York City’s median home price is $672,200 to its median income of $50,711. That means home ownership is out of reach for most New Yorkers, while it’s affordable in a town like Frisco.

Or, look at educational opportunity. Washington, D.C. is home to several top universities and a splendor of museums and other education opportunities, yet its high school graduation rate is a paltry 73%.

But Carmel, Indiana, which ranked third in MONEY’s list, has a graduation rate of 96%. The suburb of Indianapolis isn’t as splashy as places like D.C. or Los Angeles, but it may be easier for Carmel residents to secure education for their children.

The data does indicate that America’s rich are going to the coasts while inland areas are getting poorer. But, a higher quality of life might still be found in the heartland.