The United States is home to many different cities and towns to suit a broad range of individual preferences and lifestyle choices. There are many factors to consider and the best places to live for raising a family may be different from finding somewhere to retire. Each of these cities is desirable for different reasons and demographics. They are presented here in no particular order.
1. Houston, Texas
As America's fastest growing city, Houston is home to more Fortune 500 companies than anywhere else in the country aside from New York. The gas and oil industry is booming with new high-paying jobs in a city that has a relatively low cost of living. The ethnic diversity in the area provides for some terrific cuisine too. Enjoy the great outdoors with over 50,000 acres of parks and green space or attend one of the biggest rodeos in the world.
2. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison was named the best place to live in the United States by Livability in 2015, citing its "affordable housing, great schools [and] excellent health care." It may not be the largest city with a modest population of about 235,000, but it boasts a terrific art and culture scene that's perfect for both the college crowd and older professionals. The surrounding lakes provide opportunities for outdoor activities, including fishing and boating. Ski resorts are also a short drive away.
3. McKinney, Texas
Two Texas towns on the same list? With the booming energy sector, jobs are growing quickly in the Lone Star State. Located just outside of Dallas, McKinney was named the best small city in the country by Time Magazine. It offers a hometown feeling with a distinct Southern charm, technology is emphasized in the area's schools, and the historic downtown area provides the trendy culture of farm-to-table restaurants and eclectic art galleries.
4. Tucson, Arizona
Many retirees may dream of spending their golden years in the sunny and relaxed climes of Florida, but those on a tighter budget may be better off looking west to Arizona. Tucson is far more affordable with a median monthly rent among seniors of just $771. What's more, Arizona does not tax income from Social Security, making it the best place to retire on Social Security alone according to US News.
5. Rochester, Minnesota
Home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic medical campus, Rochester, Minnesota is one of the best places in the country for successful aging. It is safe, affordable and comfortable for people entering their later years, providing a wealth of opportunities to stay active and connected. The town also boasts a healthy energy with lots of festivals, live music, art exhibits, and a youthful vibrance.
6. Seattle, Washington
The winters are never too cold and the summers are never too hot in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle features a happening cultural scene with the iconic Pike Place Market, a rabid base of professional sports fans, and the proliferation of geek culture. Rated as the best city to find a job in 2015 by Wallethub, Seattle is also where you will find the headquarters for such tech giants as Microsoft and Amazon.
7. Colorado Springs, Colorado
While Boston was selected by Parenting as the best city for families, those who prefer the great outdoors over big city living will be drawn to the second city on the list: Colorado Springs. The higher altitude makes for crisp, clean air with low humidity. It is also home to the flagship US Olympic Center where some of the world's best athletes come to train. The nearby mountains are easily accessible and the kids will love exploring the many major parks in the area.
8. Ithaca, New York
While it can be overshadowed by the neighboring Big Apple, the decidedly smaller Ithaca (population 31,000) provides comparatively more affordable living for households with more modest incomes. Rated as the second best town to live in the US (after Boulder) by Outside Magazine, Ithaca offers a picturesque setting with many ravines, waterfalls and creeks, while also providing the energy of a college town with Cornell University and Ithaca College.
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
With the MLB's Pirates, the NFL's Steelers, and the NHL's Penguins, Pittsburgh is an excellent city for sports fans. It was voted as the most livable city in the US by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The rating considered such factors as healthcare, safety and education. Housing is affordable, the cultural scene is booming, and the many tech startups are injecting new life into the former steel city.
10. Des Moines, Iowa
While towns like Tucson and Rochester may be more appropriate for the older generation, young professionals are flocking in droves to Des Moines, rated as the best city for that demographic by Forbes. Beating out Omaha and Raleigh, Des Moines has a well-educated labor force and lots of promising career prospects with a 1:612 ratio of large companies (500+ employees) to residents. It's a great place to do business too.