2008 BEST CITIES
Best Cities to Live, Work and Play
These ten great places will only get better.
From Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, July 2008
Our approach this year to picking the ten best cities in which to live and work was simple: Look for places with strong economies and abundant jobs, then demand reasonable living costs and plenty of fun things to do. When we ran the numbers, some of the names that popped up made us do a double take at first. So we hit the road to meet movers, shakers and regular folks, experience the ambience and take in the sights.
Our 2008 Best Cities at a Glance
How We Ranked Our Top Places
Which City Is Best for You
Complete City Rankings
Find a Home in Your Favorite City
We discovered that our numbers guru, Kevin Stolarick, hadn't steered us wrong. Stolarick, research director at the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity, says: "Our formula highlights cities not just with strong past performance, but also with all the ingredients for future success." One key to a bright future is a healthy shot of people in the creative class. People in creative fields -- scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists and entertainers -- are catalysts of vitality and livability in a city.
The cities that made our list also represent larger surrounding areas. And because we understand that city living isn't for everyone, we've highlighted some great suburbs, too.
Pack a bag and join us on a tour of the Best Cities for 2008 and prepare for some surprises.
No. 1: Houston,Texas
No. 2: Raleigh, N.C.
No. 3: Omaha, Neb.
No. 4: Boise, Idaho
No. 5: Colorado Springs, Colo.
No. 6: Austin, Texas
No. 7: Fayetteville, Ark.
No. 8: Sacramento, Calif.
No. 9: Des Moines, Iowa
No. 10: Provo, Utah
And now; why Kiplinger loves Austin:
2008 BEST CITIES
No. 6: Austin, Texas
By Jane Bennett Clark, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
ROCKERS, TACOS AND CHIPS
Population: 1,506,425Population Growth Since 2000: 17%Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 36.5%Cost-of-Living Index: 92.8 (100 being national average)Median Household Income: $52,882 Income Growth Since 2000: 12.2%
Don’t think for a minute that the laid-back, rockers-and-tacos atmosphere of downtown Austin is all this metro area has to offer. In fact, Austin and the surrounding region offer a strong economy, a solid, moderately priced housing market, a growing population and enough natural beauty to justify staying outside even if the weather weren’t great -- which, by the way, it is.
Take Our Walking Tour Through Austin
Already home to the University of Texas, the state capitol and a bustling music scene, Austin has lately expanded its economy to include digital media, green energy and biotech, creating 114,000 in the area in the last five years. Meanwhile, downtown Austin is in transformation mode. Redevelopment includes the Second Street District and more than a dozen residential developments. Among them: 360, where a two-bedroom, two-bath condo with a lake view starts at about $400,000.
City life not to your liking? Head to Round Rock, an 18.5 mile hike up I-35. This family-oriented suburb boasts topnotch public schools along with a local economy that includes Dell, three hospitals and a brisk business in sports tourism thanks to the playing fields it rents out for tournaments. As for housing, it’s a deal: For $270,000, you can buy a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in the Teravista community and enjoy its rolling hills, 18-hole golf course, clubhouse and a pool.
Down the road apiece, in the tiny town of Lago Vista, residents enjoy access to Lake Travis in the spectacular Texas Hill Country setting. Once mostly a resort community for retirees, this 11-mile stretch of land increasingly appeals to young families who like the small-town atmosphere and don’t mind commuting to Northwest Austin or to Round Rock.
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