What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?
Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2020 rankings. Niche ranks places to live based on many factors, including the cost of living, educational attainment, housing, and public schools.
Many cities on the list are suburbs experiencing growth thanks to rapid improvements in their metropolitan areas, whether it’s the creation of new rail systems or a megacorporation moving in.
Other entries include planned communities or older cities that have been revamped with grassroots efforts focusing on greener ways of living, drawing in new businesses, or increased devotion to the arts. Towns with large colleges regularly appear, as prestigious universities employ thousands of workers and provide diverse recreational and educational offerings for families.
Whether you’re thinking of relocation or are big on hometown pride, click through to find the best place to live in every state.
- Population: 49,327
- Median home value: $253,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $946 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $99,188
Madison in 2020 officially completed Toyota Field, home stadium for a new minor league baseball team with arguably one of the most eccentric names in sports: the Trash Pandas. Madison also has top-ranked schools, borders the city of Huntsville, and offers several small business incentives.
- Population: 12,791
- Median home value: $244,700 (63% own)
- Median rent: $1,304 (37% rent)
- Median household income: $80,561
This small suburb of Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an international research center that also houses the Museum of the North. College's proximity to Fairbanks puts it close to a number of cultural amenities like Pioneer Park, commemorating Alaskan history.
Arizona: Catalina Foothills
- Population: 50,454
- Median home value: $440,100 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,061 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $92,929
The affluent town of Catalina Foothills is less than 10 minutes from Tucson and surrounded by the picturesque Santa Catalina mountains. The town has easy access to the luxury outdoor shopping center La Encantada, resorts, and museums. Nearby, the University of Arizona has a notable presence, including its operation of Biosphere2.
- Population: 49,467
- Median home value: $232,600 (54% own)
- Median rent: $955 (46% rent)
- Median household income: $80,392
Bentonville is the home of the first Walmart and now serves as home to the corporate headquarters (as well as the Walmart Museum). Bentonville also houses the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and is close to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.
California: Santa Monica
- Population: 91,577
- Median home value: $1,382,700 (29% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (71% rent)
- Median household income: $96,570
Santa Monica is a wealthy beach community in western Los Angeles County that has attracted a number of celebrities to its shores. Residents love it here for the town's direct beach access, iconic pier, A-list restaurants on Montana Avenue, and beautiful real estate.
Colorado: Holly Hills
- Population: 2,835
- Median home value: $460,100 (97% own)
- Median rent: $2,634 (3% rent)
- Median household income: $132,955
The quiet Denver suburb of Holly Hills affords its residents modest home prices, good schools, and a small neighborhood vibe just 15 minutes from downtown Denver. This kind of proximity gives the people living here access to as much or as little hubbub as one might like, with cultural events, outdoor activities, restaurants, and educational centers galore.
Connecticut: West Hartford
- Population: 63,063
- Median home value: $334,300 (71% own)
- Median rent: $1,325 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $104,281
Aficionados of fall foliage can find some of nature’s best colors in the West Hartford Reservoirs. Even outside of the fall months, this city is becoming a favorite place to live because of its farmers markets, museums, and history. The University of Hartford and the University of Saint Joseph both have campuses in town.
Delaware: Pike Creek
- Population: 7,613
- Median home value: $343,300 (84% own)
- Median rent: $1,795 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $117,379
Pike Creek offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is in close proximity to White Clay Creek State Park, featuring more than 3,600 acres of hiking trails, creeks, and forest, and Carousel Park, which has ponds, a lake, and miles of walking trails.
- Population: 14,747
- Median home value: $389,500 (86% own)
- Median rent: $1,924 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $119,276
Nocatee is a master-planned community south of Jacksonville in Ponte Vedra, putting it at the doorstep of golf courses, beaches, and transportation hubs. The coastal community has carefully-designed neighborhoods featuring everything from parks and recreation to shops and restaurants.
- Population: 24,002
- Median home value: $521,900 (66% own)
- Median rent: $1,015 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $106,088
Decatur offers easy commute times into Atlanta via train or highway. Stone Mountain is a short drive away, while inside the city limits are small higher-education institutions like Agnes Scott College and Columbia Theological Seminary. Locals take pride in the regularly updated Decatur Artway about town.
- Population: 400,317
- Median home value: $749,000 (49% own)
- Median rent: $1,534 (51% rent)
- Median household income: $76,055
Honolulu, located on the south shore of Oahu, is Hawaii's largest city and the state capital. The Honolulu Marathon, the fourth-largest in the country, is held every December. The city is also home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, stunning beaches, and warm year-round temperatures.
- Population: 25,319
- Median home value: $229,900 (41% own)
- Median rent: $731 (59% rent)
- Median household income: $41,896
Sharing the border with Washington State, Moscow began attracting settlers around 1871 for its lush grasslands and large amount of timber. The town is home to a weekend farmers market, the University of Idaho, and the paved Latah Trail connecting Moscow and Troy for joggers and cyclists.
Illinois: Clarendon Hills
- Population: 8,716
- Median home value: $506,400 (84% own)
- Median rent: $978 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $111,958
This affluent suburb of Chicago is packed with small-town charm. The Village of Clarendon Hills is known for its low crime rate, top schools, and high average home values. The family-friendly community is home to the Morton Arboretum, with 1,700 acres of natural wildlife, as well as a community theater that offers year-round events.
- Population: 97,464
- Median home value: $333,200 (76% own)
- Median rent: $1,207 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $112,765
Located just outside Indianapolis, Carmel is known for its safe neighborhoods and annual Christmas market. The Kawachinagano Japanese Garden is a favored attraction among locals.
Iowa: Mount Vernon
- Population: 4,451
- Median home value: $203,400 (69% own)
- Median rent: $757 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $71,552
Mount Vernon was founded in the early 19th century, popularized by Czech immigrants who were drawn to the area's rich farmland. This charming midwestern town retains its intimate size today. Palisades-Kepler State Park offers miles of hiking trails and river activities for local residents.
Kansas: Prairie Village
- Population: 22,170
- Median home value: $290,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,337 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $91,136
Located on land that was once home to the Shawnee, Osage, and Kansa tribes, Prairie Village is celebrated for its education system and high graduation rates. The town is safe, offers modest home prices, and maintains a laid-back feel.
Kentucky: Fort Thomas
- Population: 16,308
- Median home value: $227,600 (71% own)
- Median rent: $907 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $78,972
The Cincinnati suburb of Fort Thomas was named after Civil War Union Gen. George Henry Thomas. Fort Thomas was a key mobilization point during the Spanish-American War; later, when mineral waters were found in the area, health resorts popped up throughout town. Art Around Town, an "Art Walk" through downtown Fort Thomas, is held on the third Friday of June, July, and August each year.
- Population: 31,974
- Median home value: $236,500 (87% own)
- Median rent: $1,188 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $99,953
Just months after the Woodstock music festival in 1969, many of the same acts that performed at the seminal festival in upstate New York came to Prairieville for the New Orleans Pop Festival. Today, this suburb of Baton Rouge has a steady mix of highly rated schools with easy proximity to the restaurants and nightlife of Baton Rouge, which has been undergoing significant revitalization projects and initiatives.
Maine: Cape Elizabeth
- Population: 9,275
- Median home value: $435,700 (89% own)
- Median rent: $1,199 (11% rent)
- Median household income: $123,116
Cape Elizabeth is a suburb of the cool cultural hub of Portland. Located on Casco Bay, the affluent Maine town is known for the iconic Portland Head Light and Crescent Beach State Park.
Maryland: South Kensington
- Population: 8,763
- Median home value: $754,200 (89% own)
- Median rent: $2,180 (11% rent)
- Median household income: $180,000
With a low crime rate and excellent public school system, South Kensington is a popular place for families. There area features numerous parks offering plenty of outdoor activities from boating to history programs.
- Population: 59,180
- Median home value: $933,200 (49% own)
- Median rent: $2,268 (51% rent)
- Median household income: $117,326
John F. Kennedy spent his childhood in Brookline, and the area oozes history—like the fact that the Underground Railroad made important stops in Brookline that you can still retrace. Today, different community gardens and farmers markets are just some of the amenities that make this Boston suburb a favored locale to raise a family.
- Population: 24,141
- Median home value: $243,200 (61% own)
- Median rent: $989 (39% rent)
- Median household income: $78,600
Okemos, next to Michigan State University, has an abundance of youth sports activities, making the town an attractive place to raise a family. The Meridian Historical Village is another point of pride in the town. Comedian Seth Meyers attended elementary school in Okemos.
Minnesota: Eden Prairie
- Population: 64,179
- Median home value: $368,100 (73% own)
- Median rent: $1,402 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $111,981
Located along the Mississippi River, Eden Prairie serves as headquarters for Optum, part of the UnitedHealth network. Those in Eden Prairie can take advantage of ice rinks, community gardens, and community theater productions, and stand in close proximity to the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
- Population: 25,592
- Median home value: $261,900 (93% own)
- Median rent: $1,549 (7% rent)
- Median household income: $114,521
Simmons Arboretum, Liberty Park, and Strawberry Patch Park are two popular recreation sites in Madison. Although there are no college campuses, Jackson State University offers satellite courses in town.
Missouri: Richmond Heights
- Population: 8,500
- Median home value: $253,700 (56% own)
- Median rent: $1,035 (44% rent)
- Median household income: $82,261
Richmond Heights is a suburb of St. Louis known for great public schools, diversity, and a family-friendly atmosphere. The town also has much to offer its residents by way of proximity to St. Louis and all of the city's cultural, culinary, and recreational offerings.
- Population: 46,746
- Median home value: $365,600 (43% own)
- Median rent: $1,078 (57% rent)
- Median household income: $55,569
Bozeman is home to Montana State University, which has more than 16,000 enrolled students. The city is surrounded by mountain ranges and offers attractions like the Museum of the Rockies. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the largest airport in Montana.
- Population: 5,591
- Median home value: $127,200 (54% own)
- Median rent: $728 (46% rent)
- Median household income: $47,288
Chadron was once used as a fur-trading post in the Great Plains. Its surrounding natural beauty makes Chadron it a wonderful place for outdoor adventure, from the Nebraska National Forest to the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area.
Nevada: Incline Village
- Population: 8,669
- Median home value: $869,900 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,528 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $99,006
Incline Village sits on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and serves as a nature-lover's paradise complete with ski resorts, bike paths, hiking trails, and waterfront activities. Local activities include bowling, trail-riding, golf courses, a movie theater, tennis center, and plenty of restaurants to choose from.
New Hampshire: Hanover
- Population: 11,467
- Median home value: $564,000(66% own)
- Median rent: $1,458 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $137,344
Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, one of the oldest and finest institutions in the country. The artsy college town has museums and cultural spots like the Hood Museum of Art and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts. There is also ample opportunity for outdoor activity in this rural area, with the White Mountains to the east and the Green Mountains to the west.
New Jersey: Princeton
- Population: 31,000
- Median home value: $866,200 (60% own)
- Median rent: $1,532 (40% rent)
- Median household income: $137,672
The aura of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels still resonates among the ivy-cloaked buildings of Princeton University, the campus of which serves as centerpiece for this quaint town in central New Jersey. The area boasts some of the country’s top prep schools and is a short drive from Philadelphia. Commuters can easily hop trains into New York City, as well.
New Mexico: Los Alamos
- Population: 12,666
- Median home value: $308,100 (67% own)
- Median rent: $1,042 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $116,116
Los Alamos, New Mexico, is steeped in Native American history. Today, it's an outdoor-focused city with parks and public spaces, a bustling downtown, and its position as the “gateway” to three national parks and the Santa Fe National Forest. Bandelier National Monument gives a glimpse into the area's ancient past: Visitors can climb wooden ladders to explore ancient cave dwellings where the region's earliest inhabitants used to live.
New York: Jericho
- Population: 13,889
- Median home value: $797,400 (87% own)
- Median rent: $2,008 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $173,709
Being in Nassau County means Jericho is less than 30 miles from the services and convenience of Manhattan, but with a suburban vibe that is great for families. The school system is also very good: Jericho Senior High School regularly ranks among the best public high schools.
North Carolina: Morrisville
- Population: 26,280
- Median home value: $331,800 (48% own)
- Median rent: $1,398 (52% rent)
- Median household income: $101,738
In its Research Triangle Park, Morrisville boasts headquarters for worldwide tech companies like Lenovo. The town boasts an active youth leadership council, miles of trails and waterfront at Lake Crabtree County Park, and easy transportation access including close proximity to the Raleigh–Durham International Airport.
North Dakota: Fargo
- Population: 121,889
- Median home value: $212,100 (44% own)
- Median rent: $823 (56% rent)
- Median household income: $55,551
More than just the name of a famous movie (and later TV show), Fargo is home to North Dakota State University. The city also has a symphony orchestra, the Plains Art Museum, and a winter carnival. The Fargodome regularly hosts the music industry’s biggest acts.
- Population: 9,147
- Median home value: $294,400 (88% own)
- Median rent: $1,336 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $117,944
Located in Hamilton County, Madeira is an affordable Ohio city situated on the outskirts of Cincinnati. Families flock to the suburb because it ranks very high nationally in public education and has plenty of activities to offer, including three parks within the city.
- Population: 92,009
- Median home value: $240,600 (68% own)
- Median rent: $1,047 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $81,473
Just minutes from Oklahoma City, Edmond boasts the University of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma University Medical Center among its higher-education institutions. Edmond has produced many star athletes, such as Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, and Kansas basketball coach Bill Self.
- Population: 26,501
- Median home value: $557,300 (73% own)
- Median rent: $1,682 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $135,800
Bethany, not too far from Portland, is one of the wealthiest small towns in the state. Bethany is close to Beaverton, which is home to Nike and Oregon’s Silicon Forest, one of the fastest-growing tech areas in the Pacific Northwest.
- Population: 4,800
- Median home value: $323,000 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,832 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $130,000
Chesterbrook, a suburb of Philadelphia, is just south of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The town boasts a small population, highly rated schools, family-friendly atmosphere, and a diverse population.
Rhode Island: Barrington
- Population: 16,131
- Median home value: $433,200 (89% own)
- Median rent: $1,318 (11% rent)
- Median household income: $125,431
Barrington’s history dates back to the early 17th century when the first pilgrims arrived in New England. Today, the town has great schools, the Osamequin Nature Trails and Bird Sanctuary, and gorgeous ocean views—more than half of the square miles here are water.
South Carolina: Forest Acres
- Population: 10,412
- Median home value: $193,700 (76% own)
- Median rent: $959 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $69,212
Forest Acres is a family-friendly community near the border of the capital city of Columbia. It draws a diverse community, from young professionals and families to retirees. Residents enjoy year-round family-friendly events, a farmers market, and several parks.
South Dakota: Dakota Dunes
- Population: 2,895
- Median home value: $266,400 (59% own)
- Median rent: $902 (41% rent)
- Median household income: $99,034
Dakota Dunes is a master-planned community located near Sioux City. With less than 3,000 residents, it maintains a small-town, suburban vibe. It appeals to a diverse range of people, from university students to retirees. There are four higher-learning institutions near the community, including Western Iowa Tech, Briar Cliff University, Northeast Community College, and Morningside College, as well as an assisted living facility.
- Population: 42,407
- Median home value: $655,400 (91% own)
- Median rent: $2,085 (9% rent)
- Median household income: $168,688
Brentwood is rich in parks and wildlife, with the Deerwood Arboretum and Nature Area among the local highlights. Brentwood’s high schools are among the highest-ranked in the state. With Brentwood’s proximity to Nashville, a variety of professional athletes and country music stars live in this suburb.
Texas: Cinco Ranch
- Population: 16,437
- Median home value: $373,600 (83% own)
- Median rent: $1,375 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $141,752
Planned communities around major Texas cities like Dallas and Houston are common; and, like many planned communities, Cinco Ranch has an abundance of pools, tennis courts, and golf courses. This Houston outpost has something more though: It's also created an amateur radio society.
- Population: 31,494
- Median home value: $339,500 (88% own)
- Median rent: $948 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $99,597
Near mountain ranges and the Great Salt Lake, Kaysville is a suburb of Salt Lake City. Kaysville’s nature hotspots include the Utah State University Botanical Center. The Cherry Hill amusement park in Kaysville is also a popular destination.
- Population: 3,339
- Median home value: $454,500 (73% own)
- Median rent: $935 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $121,563
Along the banks of the Connecticut River, Norwich, Vermont, is a small New England town with a population of less than 4,000. Residents enjoy the town's charming activities, from the Saturday morning Norwich Farmers Market to scenic overlooks, covered bridges, and a bustling craft beer scene.
Virginia: Stone Ridge
- Population: 14,220
- Median home value: $473,800 (87% own)
- Median rent: $2,592 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $153,628
Stone Ridge, just outside Washington D.C., is a small Virginia city that doesn't skimp on activities and amenities for its residents. The town boasts hiking trails, swimming pools, an amphitheater for concerts and plays, and a farmers market.
- Population: 65,558
- Median home value: $703,000 (50% own)
- Median rent: $1,929 (50% rent)
- Median household income: $132,188
Microsoft and Nintendo of America have headquarters in the Seattle suburb of Redmond. Residents also enjoy equestrian facilities, adaptive recreation options, and a bicycle-racing track.
West Virginia: Star City
- Population: 2,160
- Median home value: $164,400 (52% own)
- Median rent: $809 (48% rent)
- Median household income: $45,199
Founded in the early 20th century, Star City is a small town overlooking the Monongahela River. Today, the city boasts the Edith Barill Riverfront Park which has biking and walking trails and a public boat ramp providing easy access to the river. The Caperton Trail follows the river to Morgantown and passes the West Virginia University Arboretum.
Wisconsin: Elm Grove
- Population: 6,153
- Median home value: $370,500 (93% own)
- Median rent: $950 (7% rent)
- Median household income: $106,058
Residents of Elm Grove have the best of both worlds: small-town charm with close easy access to the amenities of city life thanks to its close proximity to Milwaukee. The town is packed with small businesses and is home to Elm Grove Village Park, which has a community pool and sports facilities and serves as a popular summertime spot for family picnics.
Wyoming: South Park
- Population: 1,812
- Median home value: $1,066,900 (83% own)
- Median rent: $1,161 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $106,399
South Park in Teton County is at the doorstep of some of Wyoming's greatest attractions, making it an entertaining and diverse place for people to live. It's a small town but is just 7 miles from the bustling tourist town of Jackson Hole, providing residents all the hospitality services of a world-class ski town along with natural attractions like Yellowstone National Park and all the activities along the Snake River.