Best Cities to Live Well and Affordably


One of the best ways to live well is to choose a hometown that has access to arts, leisure, and entertainment offerings – plus a low cost of housing.

Forbes magazine set out to find those kinds of places by studying housing affordability in the nation’s 50 largest metros, using the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

Next, it looked at the 2006 Census figures that measure quality of schools and health care, as well as presence of crime and poverty.

Finally, it relied on Sperling’s Best Places to identify the best arts and leisure destinations.

The result was a top 10 ranking of most affordable places to live well. Here’s the list:

Minneapolis, Minnesota. Generous corporations have donated huge sums of money that make the city’s schools, cultural institutions and health services top notch.

Indianapolis, Indiana. Based on the NAHB/Wells Fargo housing affordability index, Indianapolis has a higher percentage of homes available to the median-earning household than any other city. Plus, it has a wide range of arts, leisure and sports activities. 

Cincinnati, Ohio. In terms of overall cost of living, this is one of the most affordable in the country, which leaves residents with plenty of cash on hand to enjoy the city’s cultural and leisure highlights.

St. Louis, Missouri. The Gateway to the West has a strong ratio of parks and restaurants to citizens, according to Sperling’s, and is the 15th cheapest city in which to live, based on rankings of the top 50 cities by the Council on Community and Economic Research.

Houston, Texas. The city has invested millions over the last five years in expanding infrastructure by adding trains, bolstering the downtown business district and funding the arts. Plus, among the cities studied, Houston is the cheapest place to live.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Sperling’s Best Places rank, the city is 21st for its combination of museums, sports outlets, libraries, universities and parks.

Dallas, Texas. This city is similar to Houston, but with better air quality and better access to public transportation. It trails Houston slightly when it comes to cultural institutions like museums, libraries, parks, sports, theaters and universities, according to Sperling’s Best Places.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lots of culture, affordable housing and a great hometown Steelers football team.

Columbus, Ohio. Home to Ohio State, the biggest university in the country, Columbus offers residents access to the top-notch facilities that come with such a huge institution. It’s also the seventh most affordable real estate market of the 50 measured.

Atlanta, Georgia. Smart land use and development have kept housing prices affordable. The city ranks 11th best when it comes to cost of living, which takes the sting out of the Braves, Falcons and Hawks all missing the playoffs.

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey

REALTOR® Magazine Online

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