These Are The 10 Most Above Average Cities In America

By David Luther - Aug. 3, 2017

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A major component of our content is rankings, and we spend a lot of time hanging out in the realm of superlatives — the most this, the ten best that, the worst whatever. And because so many of our studies are data-driven, we look at the middle for medians and means, trying to discern what’s ordinary to better grasp the extraordinary.

But instead of looking at the greatest, the smartest, the fastest, etc., what about things that don’t end in -est? What about the little guys who are doing a pretty good job — dammit, what about the not-so-little-but-not-too-big guys?

What about the most above average? The paragons of the pretty good, the deacons of decent? Dammit!

We got tired of seeing New York and Los Angeles at the top and Detroit and the whole state of New Jersey at the bottom — Using data from the American Community Survey, we were able to put together a ranked list of just that.

Here are the ten most above average cities in America, based off of Census data:

  1. Tulsa, OK
  2. Omaha, NE
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Dallas, TX
  5. Durham, NC
  6. Tucson, AZ
  7. Colorado Springs, CO
  8. Sacramento, CA
  9. Mesa, AZ
  10. Long Beach, CA

The breakdown of our top 10 list can be found below, but first, here’s how we came up with the list of the most mentionable honorable mentions.

How we determined the most magnificently meh municipalities in ‘Murica

Simply put, we wanted everyone who was above the average, but not too far above the average, so we cut off everyone above the 75th percentile. We didn’t want the best and we didn’t want anyone subpar, so our list is confined to the third quartile, as defined by the dictionary as:

Q3. For a set of data, a number for which 75% of the data is less than that number. The third quartile is the same as the median of the part of the data which is greater than the median.

We took 23 criteria from the most recently available data — the 2011-2015 American Community Survey data from the US Census — for details such as:

  • Racial, age, and gender diversity
  • Commute times, means of transportation, and work-from-home
  • Born in the same state, and non-native citizens
  • Young children in the home, number of bedrooms, and housing type
  • Crime rates, employment rates, and insurance coverage

We gave each city a “meh” point for being in the third quartile, based on each individual piece of criteria, then added them up to determine the rankings.

Looking at each of these items individually, we then limited our search criteria to the 200 largest cities in the country by population. Ties were broken by the largest population, since the difficulty of maintaining that above-averageness increases with the populace.

If your city or town isn’t among the top ten, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the top 100. Otherwise, learn more about how the top ten cities achieved their potential.

1. Tulsa, OK

Number of Mehs: 12

How it’s not average: Located in literally the most OK state in the country, Tulsa takes the cake with the most mehs in America. It has the second-shortest commute time in the country, and is also dubiously home to the center of the universe. Having been to Tulsa I sincerely doubt this.

Then again, Hanson hails from Tulsa and I think the universe revolves around them.

2. Omaha, NE

Number of Mehs: 12

How it’s not average: Second place in our most second place ranking, Omaha is most famous for two things: a Counting Crows song not written about it, and Peyton Manning shouting it before the snap. Even its most absurd law is mildly pleasant about a reasonable food: bartenders can’t sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

3. Portland, OR

Number of Mehs: 11

How it’s not average: Despite what TV shows like Portlandia might imply, Portland isn’t just some place that hipsters and hippies go to escape from society at large (although there’s certainly some of that happening, too).

It’s too far above average for commute points in this ranking, in that it has the most bicyclists per capita as well as the largest naked bicycle race. But despite the city’s unofficial slogan being “Keep Portland Weird”, City Vitals Weirdness index ranks it only eleventh.

4. Dallas, TX

Number of Mehs: 11

How it’s not average: It’s not as big as Houston or San Antonio, but a completely false little known fact is that the airport is largest than Rhode Island.

5. Durham, NC

Number of Mehs: 11

How it’s not average: Ah, the Bull City, which actually has more lemurs than bulls, it’s not average in that its Research Triangle Park has more PhDs, as a proportion of the population,than anywhere else in the country.

I’m really happy for them, you know?

6. Tucson, AZ

Number of Mehs: 11

How it’s not average: The city of Tucson, AZ is literally the sunniest city in the United States with 350 days of sunshine a year and almost the third most mispronounced city in the country, after La Jolla and Spokane.

7. Colorado Springs, CO

Number of Mehs: 10

How it’s not average: Taking the bittersweet #7 spot is the town of Colorado Springs, CO. With a Number of Mehs of 10, it is also number four on North Korea’s strike list — but it’s OK, because they’re not so savvy as to realize that Colorado Springs is in Colorado, and instead think it’s in Louisiana.

8. Sacramento, CA

Number of Mehs: 10

How it’s not average: Coming in at #8, the city of Sacramento, CA has both he largest almond processing plant in the world and the second most trees in one city in the world — but it’s also got, like, more frickin’ frozen yogurt shops than anywhere else in the country.

9. Mesa, AZ

Number of Mehs: 9

How it’s not average: Finishing strong at #9 the town of Mesa, AZ, the most conservative city in the country according to USA Today and also one of the worst places for bike commuters — which makes since, given that there 301 summer days a year and it’s, you know, stupid hot.

Like, disrespectably hot.

Interestingly, it also has one of the highest rates on our list of ladies over 65.

10. Long Beach, CA

Number of Mehs: 9

How it’s not average: Rounding out our list and coming in at #10 is the city of Long Beach, CA, which holds a record that absolutely no one ever, anywhere cares about: the world record for Most Couples Feeding Each Other Simultaneously. And while it’s named after a long beach, it’s home to another records: the world’s narrowest house at 10 feet wide and three stories.

Here are the 100 most above average cities in America

City And State Rank Score
Tulsa city, Oklahoma 1 12
Omaha city, Nebraska 2 12
Portland city, Oregon 3 11
Dallas city, Texas 4 11
Durham city, North Carolina 5 11
Tucson city, Arizona 6 11
Colorado Springs city, Colorado 7 10
Sacramento city, California 8 10
Mesa city, Arizona 9 9
Long Beach city, California 10 9
Las Vegas city, Nevada 11 9
Kansas City city, Missouri 12 9
Raleigh city, North Carolina 13 9
Albuquerque city, New Mexico 14 9
Nashville-Davidson metropolitan government (balance), Tennessee 15 8
San Diego city, California 16 8
Charlotte city, North Carolina 17 8
Jacksonville city, Florida 18 8
Oklahoma City city, Oklahoma 19 8
Lexington-Fayette urban county, Kentucky 20 8
Reno city, Nevada 21 8
Greensboro city, North Carolina 22 8
Winston-Salem city, North Carolina 23 8
San Antonio city, Texas 24 8
Oakland city, California 25 7
Fremont city, California 26 7
San Jose city, California 27 7
Santa Ana city, California 28 7
Austin city, Texas 29 7
Cincinnati city, Ohio 30 7
Glendale city, Arizona 31 7
Houston city, Texas 32 7
Milwaukee city, Wisconsin 33 7
Aurora city, Colorado 34 7
Baton Rouge city, Louisiana 35 7
Columbus city, Ohio 36 7
Wichita city, Kansas 37 7
Urban Honolulu CDP, Hawaii 38 6
Chicago city, Illinois 39 6
Denver city, Colorado 40 6
Anchorage municipality, Alaska 41 6
St. Paul city, Minnesota 42 6
North Las Vegas city, Nevada 43 6
Phoenix city, Arizona 44 6
Fort Worth city, Texas 45 6
El Paso city, Texas 46 6
New Orleans city, Louisiana 47 6
Tampa city, Florida 48 6
Lincoln city, Nebraska 49 6
Paradise CDP, Nevada 50 6
Arlington city, Texas 51 6
Fort Wayne city, Indiana 52 6
Orlando city, Florida 53 6
Louisville/Jefferson County metro government (balance), Kentucky 54 6
Washington city, District of Columbia 55 5
Jersey City city, New Jersey 56 5
Los Angeles city, California 57 5
Atlanta city, Georgia 58 5
Virginia Beach city, Virginia 59 5
Pittsburgh city, Pennsylvania 60 5
Chandler city, Arizona 61 5
Riverside city, California 62 5
Madison city, Wisconsin 63 5
Henderson city, Nevada 64 5
Norfolk city, Virginia 65 5
Chula Vista city, California 66 5
Corpus Christi city, Texas 67 5
Gilbert town, Arizona 68 4
Detroit city, Michigan 69 4
Minneapolis city, Minnesota 70 4
Cleveland city, Ohio 71 4
Irvine city, California 72 4
Chesapeake city, Virginia 73 4
Bakersfield city, California 74 4
Anaheim city, California 75 4
St. Louis city, Missouri 76 4
Plano city, Texas 77 4
St. Petersburg city, Florida 78 4
Fresno city, California 79 4
Lubbock city, Texas 80 4
Seattle city, Washington 81 3
New York city, New York 82 3
Philadelphia city, Pennsylvania 83 3
Miami city, Florida 84 3
Indianapolis city (balance), Indiana 85 3
Memphis city, Tennessee 86 3
Toledo city, Ohio 87 3
San Bernardino city, California 88 3
Arlington CDP, Virginia 89 2
Baltimore city, Maryland 90 2
Buffalo city, New York 91 2
Stockton city, California 92 2
Garland city, Texas 93 2
Irving city, Texas 94 2
Hialeah city, Florida 95 2
Boston city, Massachusetts 96 1
Newark city, New Jersey 97 1
Scottsdale city, Arizona 98 1
Laredo city, Texas 99 1
San Francisco city, California 100 0

Wrapping Up

That’s all for this one, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you a recent college graduate thinking about moving for a new job? Find out which types of jobs have the highest turnover.

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out what which states are the most dangerous ones to live in.

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David Luther

David Luther was the Content Marketing Editor for the Zippia Advice blog. He developed partnerships with external reporting agencies in addition to generating original research and reporting for the Zippia Career Advice blog. David obtained his BA from UNC Chapel Hill.

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Topics: Rankings, Salaries