About 60 criteria, from median high temperatures and cultural offerings to school rankings and proximity to top hospitals, were carefully analyzed and ranked to come up with the winners. This year, MONEY also put extra weight on financial factors that are so important in our current economic climate, like affordable housing and the job market. (And, yes, even a few places in pricey California still made the list.)
Did your hometown make the cut? Check out the full list on Money.com, and the Western spots below.
Low property taxes and good job growth projected through 2020 (not to mention year-round dry heat!) helped Scottsdale crack the top 50 on this year’s list.
Population: 235,213 Median Home Price: $370,000 Unemployment Rate: 5.3% Median Household Income: $96,384 Average Commute Time: 23 minutes
This Northern California town has an unbeatable combination of access to Silicon Valley jobs, a diverse population, and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy its mild, Mediterranean climate.
Population: 239,527 Median Home Price: $805,500 Unemployment Rate: 4.7% Median Household Income: $112,177 Average Commute Time: 31 minutes
Koolaupoko, a neighborhood in O’ahu’s biggest city of Honolulu, stood out for its low property taxes and exceptionally low unemployment rate. And that notoriously bad Honolulu traffic? It’s just a myth for these residents, who spend on average just 27 minutes commuting.
Population: 118,326 Median Home Price: $766,500 Unemployment Rate: 3.6% Median Household Income: $94,731 Average Commute Time: 27 minutes
Situated between Boulder and Denver, this small Colorado town scored straight As for economy, jobs, and education.
Population: 63,676 Median Home Price: $365,000 Unemployment Rate: 3.6% Median Household Income: $96,225 Average Commute Time: 26 minutes
Another Bay Area city makes the list for its excellent schools, access to recreational and cultural attractions, and several large in-town employers, including Chevron and 24-Hour Fitness’s corporate headquarters.
Population: 78,465 Median Home Price: $875,000 Unemployment Rate: 4.9% Median Household Income: $149,172 Average Commute Time: 30 minutes
If high-paying jobs and easy beach access weren’t enough, this Southern California city also boasts one of the highest safety ratings in the country.
Population: 250,308 Median Home Price: $725,000 Unemployment Rate: 4.4% Median Household Income: $111,809 Average Commute Time: 22 minutes
Incorporated just six years ago, this new community located east of Los Angeles, will speak to families looking for lots of square footage in their brand-new homes, recently paved streets, and high-ranking public schools.
Population: 63,992 Median Home Price: $497,500 Unemployment Rate: 6.7% Median Household Income: $107,534 Average Commute Time: 32 minutes
Lots of community activities and green space are significant draws to this lakeside suburb of Seattle, but access to two great school districts doesn’t hurt either.
Population: 50,248 Median Home Price: $802,275 Unemployment Rate: 4.3% Median Household Income: $150,717 Average Commute Time: 28 minutes
A magnet for Denver’s emerging techie set, Centennial is home to start-up incubator and coworking space, Innovation Pavilion, and is just 10 minutes from Oracle and Microsoft offices. An award-winning park and 300 days of sunshine help this small city climb toward the top of the list.
Population: 107,569 Median Home Price: $374,500 Unemployment Rate: 3.8% Median Household Income: $102,174 Average Commute Time: 24 minutes
Nike’s hometown makes a pretty nice hometown for its residents, as well, who enjoy low property taxes, affordable real estate and Oregon’s lack of sales tax too. Top-ranking schools and access to great ethnic cuisine make it an appealing alternative to Portland, which is just 8 miles away.
Population: 96,500 Median Home Price: $319,950 Unemployment Rate: 4.7% Median Household Income: $70,168 Average Commute Time: 22 minutes
A booming job market (no other place on the list was expected to have more growth in the next five years) and low crime make this fast-growing Denver suburb one of the area’s most desirable.
Population: 105,132 Median Home Price: $410,000 Unemployment Rate: 3.4% Median Household Income: $119,173 Average Commute Time: 26 minutes
And stay tuned for our February 2017 issue, where we’ll be sharing our own picks for the West’s best places to live!