Top 11 places to live in the West

September 20, 2016 | By | Comments (0)

MONEY’s annual list of the best places to live in America was released yesterday and–can’t say we’re one bit surprised–the West showed particularly well, accounting for 11 of the top 50 cities and towns. 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.

11. Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, AZ

Photo: Matt Mawson—Getty Images

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

10. Fremont, California

Fremont, CA

Photo courtesy of the city of Fremont

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

9. Koolaupoko, Hawaii

Koolaupoko, HI

Photo: Greg Ward—Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

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

8. Broomfield, Colorado

Broomfield, CO

Photo courtesy of the Town of Broomfield

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

7. San Ramon, California

San Ramon's Central Park

Photo courtesy of Flickr user dharrels

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

6. Irvine, California

Irvine, CA

Photo courtesy of the Town of Irvine

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

5. Eastvale, California

Eastvale, CA

Photo courtesy of the Town of Eastvale

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

4. Sammamish, Washington

Sammamish, WA

Photo courtesy of the Town of Sammamish

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

3. Centennial, Colorado

Centennial, CO

Photo: Laurie Reed/Courtesy of the Town of Centennial

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

2. Beaverton, Oregon

Beaverton, CO

Photo courtesy of the Town of Beaverton

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

1. Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Photo courtesy of the Town of Highlands Ranch

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

Want to see how your own town stacked up against these? Check out MONEY’s comparison tool, or rank the top 50 using the criteria that’s most important to you.

And stay tuned for our February 2017 issue, where we’ll be sharing our own picks for the West’s best places to live!

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