About one in every five American workers whose job could be performed remotely worked from home before the COVID-19 pandemic. That share jumped to nearly three in four following the abrupt closure of offices nationwide, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2020. For millions of Americans, the shift to remote work is now permanent, and the new dynamic means they are no longer tied to a specific city for their job and can choose a place to live based on other factors, including quality of life -- which varies considerably in the United States.

Affordability, access to public spaces and services, the presence of entertainment and cultural amenities, crime rates, and socioeconomic conditions are just a few of the factors that can influence quality of life in a given city or town.

24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 25 measures in four main categories - economy, affordability, quality of life, and community - using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and other sources to identify the best city to live in each state. We considered all boroughs, census designated places, cities, towns, and villages with at least 8,000 residents.

Winnetka, a small village along the shore of Lake Michigan about 20 miles north of downtown Chicago, ranks as the best place to live in Illinois. Winnetka residents have easy access to the largest city in the Midwest with a commuter line that goes directly downtown. Partially as a result, over a quarter of commuters in the area use public transit to get to work and do not have to rely on a car. As is often the case in municipalities outside major urban areas, unemployment is low in Winnetka. The village's five-year average jobless rate of 2.4% is less than half the comparable national figure of 5.9%.

The village and surrounding county also boasts a high per capita concentration of restaurants, bars, and theater companies as well as a total of 27 parks that span nearly 250 acres.

Our index is composed of data across four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community. Data is all for the most recent year available and came from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, The Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other sources. This is the best city to live in every state.

 

PlacePopulationMedian home value ($)Median household income ($)5-yr. avg. unemployment (%)
Alabama: Hoover85,175291,00089,4523.3
Alaska: Juneau32,227345,90088,3904.6
Arizona: Paradise Valley14,3621,516,200211,3932.1
Arkansas: Lowell9,175157,60068,4381.0
California: Burlingame30,5761,901,900128,4474.7
Colorado: Durango18,588463,70066,1604.8
Connecticut: Darien21,7421,471,700232,5234.9
Delaware: Smyrna11,484206,40067,2775.4
Florida: Key Biscayne12,9151,211,000151,3105.3
Georgia: Sandy Springs107,072471,80078,6133.0
Hawaii: Urban Honolulu348,985683,00071,4653.7
Idaho: Meridian101,905274,90071,3893.7
Illinois: Winnetka12,4281,091,700250,000+2.4
Indiana: Carmel97,464333,200112,7652.5
Iowa: North Liberty18,829220,80083,9491.1
Kansas: Leawood34,670463,200157,5152.7
Kentucky: Fort Mitchell8,257272,20067,7450.5
Louisiana: Harahan9,304240,30066,7413.6
Maine: Portland66,595289,00060,4672.8
Maryland: Takoma Park17,672583,80084,5915.6
Massachusetts: Brookline59,180933,200117,3262.8
Michigan: Royal Oak59,195224,60081,6653.2
Minnesota: Edina51,746476,300104,2443.1
Mississippi: Byram11,578141,70066,6412.2
Missouri: Ladue8,601831,800214,8751.3
Montana: Belgrade8,685243,20059,1462.9
Nebraska: Papillion20,423189,90080,6192.5
Nevada: Reno246,500335,00058,7905.4
New Hampshire: Portsmouth21,775425,60083,9232.1
New Jersey: Hoboken53,193720,700147,6203.0
New Mexico: Corrales8,588447,60085,5802.8
New York: Rye15,8201,392,100192,6884.1
North Carolina: Davidson12,735448,300124,8532.8
North Dakota: West Fargo35,397241,00085,1201.5
Ohio: Bay Village15,325247,900103,5821.3
Oklahoma: Bixby`223,90083,1192.9
Oregon: Sherwood19,625405,900103,5121.8
Pennsylvania: Wyomissing10,473245,60081,1784.3
Rhode Island: Newport24,663448,80067,1025.2
South Carolina: Mount Pleasant86,982461,000103,2322.1
South Dakota: Brandon9,934225,20087,2501.6
Tennessee: Brentwood42,407655,400168,6882.6
Texas: Highland Park9,1681,508,900211,1361.4
Utah: South Jordan71,198405,400104,5971.6
Vermont: South Burlington19,162307,50073,0653.7
Virginia: Vienna16,489743,500161,1962.4
Washington: Mercer Island25,6751,218,200147,5664.0
West Virginia: Weirton18,67094,80049,4966.6
Wisconsin: Middleton19,487336,90076,0112.5
Wyoming: Cheyenne63,607214,30064,5985.4