Plenty of ink has been spilled about millennials’ preference for moving to large urban centers like San Francisco and New York where salaries are higher, job opportunities more plentiful, and many cultural amenities are easily available.
But the rush to urban centers has created a serious problem for millions of Americans: Housing prices and rents in the hottest markets have skyrocketed, making these markets unaffordable for millions. In a sign of just how bad things have gotten, one guy in San Francisco listed a burned out shack for the “bargain price” of $800,000.
GIven this, it might not come as a surprise that, according to a report by HowMuch and Money, the best places to live in America are actually its suburbs.
By combining data showing an area’s potential for jobs growth with median incomes, the map below shows the most desirable place to live in each state.
In many, these places are small towns like Allen, Texas that most Americans have never heard of.
Let’s look at the data one step at a time. There are eight cities where the median household income cracks $100K (see the list below). Paradise Valley, AZ tops the list with an incredible median income of $138,192. Second place is a full $10,000 lower in Mercer Island, WA, where the typical family brings home $128,484. Lower Merion, PA takes third place with a respectable median income of $117,438, a full $11,000 lower than Mercer Island. There’s not as much separation from one place to another further down the list.
Median household income is a good metric for understanding how well-off communities are right now, but projected job growth serves as a leading indicator for how the economy will change in the future. Taking a look at only job growth reveals a very different list, with St. Augustine, FL leading the pack at an incredible 18.2% projected growth. We hasten to add the median income is only $47,748, but that will only increase if labor remains in high demand. Allen, TX comes in second place with projected growth topping 17% and median income at $104,524. That’s more than twice as much as St. Augustine. These numbers indicate the labor market is going crazy in certain parts of the country.
Ideally, the best place to live would have both a high median income and strong projected job growth. In other words, looking at our map, the best place would be a large green dot - Allen, TX. As a matter of fact, there’s a clear cluster of green dots stretching from Allen to Fishers, IN, indicating a buoyant economy in certain parts of the mid-South. The Northeast meanwhile continues to boast some of the highest median incomes but comparatively little in the way of robust job growth.
By these metrics, the best places to live are:
1. Paradise Valley, AZ: $138,192 and 9.1%
2. Mercer Island, WA: $128,484 and 7.6%
3. Lower Merion, PA: $117,438 and 4.5%
4. Lone Tree, CO: $116,761 and 7.9%
5. Hockessin, DE: $115,124 and 4.3%
6. Reston, VA: $112,722 and 3.1%
7. Allen, TX: $104,524 and 17.0%
8. Rockville, MD: $100,158 and 5.8%
9. Woodbury, MN: $99,657 and 4.8%
10. Valley Stream, NY: $88,693 and 3.6%
As the list shows, almost all the best places to live are suburbs, located outside large urban centers. These places have all the hallmarks of ideal places to buy a home and start a career - access to large legacy employers, good school systems, and proximity to the amenities of big cities.
For millennials who hope to own a home some day, these qualities can’t be so easily ignored.