Now that a growing number of Americans are working remotely, the question, “If you could live anywhere, where would you live?” has become increasingly important.
If you are a remote worker, that question can be vexing because there are so many factors to consider. Whether you’re seriously considering a move or simply kicking the idea around, Livability.com has some research that may make your decision easier.
First, Livability.com and global market research firm Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed more than 1,000 adults aged 18 and up from across the country to determine which characteristics they value most in communities. Then the companies ranked more than 1,000 U.S. cities with populations between 20,000 and 1,000,000 based on 50 data points measuring economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education, and healthcare.
The results can be found in Livability.com’s eighth-annual Top 100 Best Places to Live list.
“This year’s list is a testament to loving where you live, in a time where more of us than ever can live anywhere we want,” Cara Sanders, managing editor at Livability.com, said. “These past 2 years [during the COVID-19 pandemic] have shown us how important it is that the places we live meet our needs and offer up affordability, opportunity, and plenty of amenities. If we can work from anywhere, then these 100 cities are places you would want to live because they are so well suited to meet remote workers’ needs.”
Let’s get right to those findings. Here are Livability.com’s top 15 best places to live.
1. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, which is home to the University of Wisconsin, appeals to recent grads, retirees, and everyone in between because it has “a high rate of employment, a resilient economy, and excels in nearly every category,” Livability explains. Since it’s located on an isthmus between Mendota Lake and Monona Lake, there are ample opportunities for watersports. There also are nearly 200 miles of hiking and biking trails nearby.
Finally, Madison is also home to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which includes an ornate Thai Pavillion. It also features a glass pyramid housing a tropical oasis that includes orchids, a waterfall, free-flying birds, and other plants.
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Like Madison, Ann Arbor is also home to a large university: the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor “is alive with energy, innovation, arts and culture, and green spaces, making it one of the best places to live in the U.S.,” Livability.com explains. The city’s leading employers are in higher education, healthcare, automotive research, and manufacturing industries.
If you love watersports, you’ll be thrilled to learn you can kayak the 100-mile Huron River Water Trail. And if you have a dog or dogs, take heart: Many of the city’s breweries are dog-friendly — and some even have menus that offer snacks for dogs.
3. Overland Park, Kansas
Many people recognize Overland Park because it’s just outside Kansas City, Missouri, but the city, which also is the second-largest city in Kansas, has “plenty of its own stellar amenities like great schools and affordable homes,” Livability explains. The biggest employer in Overland Park is T-Mobile, which recently acquired Sprint. In addition to telecommunications, other key employers in and around the city are in the education, technical services, healthcare, finance, and insurance industries.
Many residents enjoy visiting the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, which includes more than 1,700 plant species. The 300-acre botanical garden also features numerous hiking trails.
4. Frederick, Maryland
Frederick offers “a rich history, pedestrian-friendly streets, picturesque architecture, and abundant countryside wineries, all of which make it one of the best places to live in the U.S.,” Livability.com notes. Indeed, the city is home to Civil War-era buildings, museums, galleries, unique shops, and numerous restaurants. Fort Detrick is in Frederick, so it comes as no surprise that the U.S. Army is a leading employer, as are companies in the education, healthcare, medical and life sciences research, and biotech manufacturing industries.
If you walk about a mile through Carroll Creek Park along the creek, you’ll pass numerous shops, restaurants with patios, breweries, and even a distillery. Bicyclists will be thrilled to learn the 40-mile covered bridge cycling route includes Frederick’s three historic covered bridges.
5. Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is another home to a university: The University of Virginia. As Livability.com notes, the city is also home to “multiple concert venues and theaters, farm-to-table restaurants, local wineries, and parks and open spaces.” Charlottesville is close to both Richmond and Washington, D.C., so the chief employers are in higher education, healthcare, Department of Defense, and related military industries.
If you love outdoor pursuits, including cycling, here’s more good news. Charlotte is about 100 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic 469-mile mountainous and forested road through Virginia and North Carolina.
6. Quincy, Massachusetts
Located along Quincy Bay just south of Boston, Quincy is a history lover’s dream because it’s the birthplace of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, as well as John Hancock — Massachusetts’ first governor and, of course, the man who signed the Declaration of Independence. The city’s downtown area, called New Quincy Center, “is one of Massachusetts’s latest urban revitalization projects, spanning more than 50 acres of shops, restaurants, housing, and commercial space,” according to Livability.com. Most of the area’s jobs are in the insurance, financial services, healthcare, and retail industries.
In addition to historical sites and museums, Quincy is home to a boardwalk at Marina Bay, which offers stunning views of Boston’s skyline, as well as 11 beaches. Quincy also has 52 parks.
7. Hillsboro, Oregon
Hillsboro may technically be a suburb of Portland, but it has its own character. Part of the so-called “Silicon Forest” that is home to high-tech companies including Intel and Genentech, the area “boasts top-notch healthcare, picturesque wineries, and family farms, and many arts and culture organizations — including the Hillsboro Symphony Orchestra and the Hillsboro Artists Regional Theatre,” Livability.com explains. In addition to technology and manufacturing, other key industries include healthcare, finance, and insurance.
Fun fact: Hondo Dog Park is named for Hillsboro Police Department K9 Officer Hondo, who died while on duty in 1997. The nearly 4-acre park, which opened in 2007, includes numerous trees, drinking stations, and grass areas.
8. Roseville, California
Roseville, which is just 20 minutes away from the state capital of Sacramento, also butts up against the Sierra Nevada foothills and Folsom Lake — making it ideal for those who love to be outdoors. Interestingly, the city, which has more than 100 miles of bike trails, also has “a Mediterranean climate with balmy summers and short winters, and a low cost of living compared to other parts of California partly because the city operates its own utilities, which translates to lower household bills,” Livability.com explains in the report.
The area’s main employers are in the healthcare industry. It should be pointed out, however, that Roseville is only about 100 miles northeast of San Francisco, which is also home to numerous major technology companies.
9. Colorado Springs, Colorado
If you’re a fan of this type of list, you knew it was just a matter of time until Colorado Springs popped up. Given that the city is home to Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, it stands to reason that most jobs are in the military, aerospace, education, electronics, and healthcare industries.
Colorado Springs is widely touted as one of the best places to live since it butts up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. That means if you do work from home, you can hike or bike into the mountains within minutes. In fact, Pikes Peak, which has an elevation of 14,115 feet, is only around 13 miles away.
10. Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver, which is just minutes away from Portland, Oregon, is “tucked between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean along the shores of the Columbia River,” making it “postcard-perfect,” Livability.com points out. That location means the city is home to numerous scenic hiking and biking routes that also offer views of neighboring Mount Hood.
Livability.com notes that small businesses are “the heart of Vancouver’s economy, representing 95 percent of businesses.” However, major employers in the area are in the healthcare, business services, retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing industries.
11. Corvallis, Oregon
“Residents in this pocket of the Pacific Northwest have a big backyard to play in, with an abundance of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and paddling, plus some darn good après-adventure, beer, and wine to enjoy,” Livability.com explains. Since Corvallis is home to Oregon State University, it makes sense that the university is a key employer, as is Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. The city is also home to a thriving tech scene, and Hewlett-Packard and several software startups are other major employers.
Also of note, Corvallis is surrounded by 60 miles of multi-use trails. You can even hike or bike a stretch of the 62-mile Corvallis-to-the-Sea Trail, which links the Willamette Valley to the Oregon Coast. If you enjoy watersports, you can also paddle along the Willamette River Water Trail.
12. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, which is the state capital, “has plentiful jobs, a strong economy, a high quality of life, and great healthcare,” according to Livability.com’s study. “The city is a haven for foodies, adventure seekers, and entrepreneurs, creating an electric environment to grow your business or your family.”
Most of the jobs in the area are in the healthcare, education, advanced manufacturing, technology, and life sciences industries. Also of interest, Raleigh has three fiber internet providers, which practically guarantee fast internet speeds and reliability.
Raleigh is also home to the Neuse River Greenway Trail, a 27.5-mile paved trail with river views, a boardwalk, historic sights, fishing spots, and places to launch canoes and kayaks. Then again, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History, and North Carolina Museum of Art are also in the city.
13. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha has a low cost of living, an “authentic community vibe,” and numerous outdoor and entertainment options in addition to “trendy neighborhoods and a killer live music scene, making it an excellent place to live,” according to Livability.com. Most of the jobs in the Omaha area are in the military, healthcare, finance, transportation, and manufacturing industries. It should also be noted that Omaha’s median home value is just $169,864,
Museum lovers will be happy to know that the Joslyn Art Museum and The Durham Museum are both in Omaha. Residents can also spend time exploring the Neale Woods, a 600-acre stretch along the Missouri River that features more than 9 miles of walking trails, opportunities for birding, and a seasonal butterfly garden.
14. Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester, which, of course, is home to Mayo Clinic, “is a small but mighty city with a thriving downtown scene, tons of professional networking opportunities, and lots of family-friendly activities to keep little ones busy,” Livability.com explains. As you would expect, Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in Rochester, followed by IBM. Rochester offers a low cost of living, and for those who do need to go into the office, average commute times of less than 17 minutes.
Rochester has a vibrant outdoor scene, and you can spend time walking or running the 8 miles of trail at Quarry Hill Nature Center, or kayaking the Zumbro River. Residents also enjoy birding, rollerblading, walking, jogging, or cycling around nearby Silver Lake, Livability.com’s research found.
15. Columbia, Maryland
In 1967, city founder James Rouse “decided to build an entire city from the ground up, ushering in a new era of planned communities,” according to Livability.com. The result, the study notes, is a “high quality of life, bountiful family-friendly amenities, and a robust economy.”
The main source of jobs in the area is companies in healthcare, research and development, and telecommunications. Then again, Columbia is located between Washington D.C. and Baltimore for those people who need to be in the office at least some of the time.
If you enjoy being outside, you can walk on Columbia’s 114 miles of pathways and sidewalks or spend time at the 18-acre Robinson Nature Center. In the evening, you can catch a show at the center’s full-dome planetarium or attend an outdoor concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
If you’re looking for other great places to live and enjoy national parks, be sure to read:
- 10 Most Affordable Places To Live Near U.S. National Parks
- 10 Most Expensive Places To Live Near U.S. National Parks
If you’re almost finished with your career and looking for places to retire, read TravelAwaits’ retirement portfolio here