Big city living isn’t for everyone—but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks. There’s the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There’s traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing—pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you’re looking at.
But that’s where the suburbs come in—they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities. Of course, not all suburbs are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado, here are the 10 best suburbs in the country:
If you happen to be a resident of one of these communities, you’re probably not too surprised to find it on our list. If you’re not—and you’re wondering what in the world these places are in the first place—keep reading. We’ll tell you what makes each of these 10 ‘burbs better than the rest—but first, a bit about our methodology.
Figuring out the best ‘burbs in America was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things. We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:
Then we used the 2010-2014 American Community Survey to research each suburb. FYI: We defined a suburb based on the Census’s designation of being part of an “Urban Cluster,” but not the main city of said urbanized area. For example, the Census considers West University Place to be part of the “Houston, TX Urbanized Area.”
Additionally, we limited the analysis to non-CDPs that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 7,200 suburbs to evaluate in America.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 7,200 in each category, where 1 was the “best.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the lowest quality of life index the “Best Suburb in America.” We’re lookin’ at you, West University Place.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the best of the best. Or skip to the end to see the list of the top 100 suburbs ranked from best to worst.
Of all of the places we looked at in this analysis, West University Place was one of the most educated and well-paid in the country. Yep, that’s right, Northeast: Texas. A staggering 88% of residents in this suburb have a college degree—the fourth highest in the nation (in terms of suburbs.)
Plus, it’s pretty hard to top a median income of $207,429. (We said hard, but not impossible, as you’ll see with our next place.) So if you need to live near Houston for work, or if you just like being near a bigger city, put West University Place on your radar.
Remember that one time, oh, about one second ago, when we said it was hard but not impossible to beat such a high median income? Well say hello to the place that can top it—and top them all in that department. Chevy Chase, Maryland is the suburb with the highest median income—$250,000.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to pack your bags and head to this D.C. suburb, it also has the highest percentage of college grads (93%) and the highest median home price (a cool million) in the country.
Of course, you’ve got to be able to afford it there—but if you’re a politician commuting to our nation’s capital, Chevy Chase is your best ‘burb.
This little residential community lies just outside of San Francisco and is surrounded by Oakland. You know, just in case you wanted a little background.
The reason it’s on our list, though, is that it is a hella cool place to live—and like Chevy Chase, only if you can afford it. See, the median home price is $1 million, and unlike Chevy Chase, the median income is just $212,222. (Which is still clearly a lot.)
Piedmont is also pretty densely populated compared to most of the other suburbs we looked at, which means more amenities right out your door, more walkability, and more fun. Plus, Jack London lived here, and that’s just plain cool.
If you’re looking to move to a suburb to avoid the high costs of living in Chicago, well, Kenilworth may not be the suburb for you. Because it’s expensive. But, if you have tons of money and are looking for a home near Chicago but not quite in it, say hello to Kenilworth!
Homes here are pricey—like $1 million sort of pricey. It’s not as densely-populated as some of our other ‘burbs, so you’ll probably need a car, but on the bright side, with a median income of $179,922, you’ll be able to afford one. And then some.
Ah, the Mile Square City. This New York City suburb is commonly known as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra—which yes, is awesome, but not exactly a reason to pack up and live somewhere. Unless, of course, you’re the biggest Sinatra superfan, and in that case, by all means, pack away.
For those of us who aren’t Sinatra fanboys or girls, though, this suburb offers some other perks: a median income of over $106,000 and a median home price of just over $563,000—making this one of the more affordable, wealthy suburbs on our list.
It’s also one of the most densely-populated ‘burbs in America, which means you’re just steps away from the action. And by action, we mean your neighbors.
Known as the “City of Homes,” this Houston suburb might be more aptly called the “City of Expensive Homes.” The median home price here is $646,500—which may not be a lot compared to that other Bellaire, but it’s a lot more than most suburbs in America.
Luckily, these guys are making bank and can afford a home in the $600,000s. They’re also some of the most educated suburbanites in the country (with 78% of residents having gone to college), so we trust that they know a good investment when they see one.
Owning a home in New York City is something you might mention as a joke, or maybe to get one of your friends to choke on his water and squirt it out of his nose or something. It is simply too expensive for most mere mortals (excluding, of course, celebrities, politicians, and the uber wealthy.)
Now, don’t get us wrong, this NYC suburb is still expensive—the median home price here is, after all, $770,000—but it’s not NYC expensive. Plus, the income here is high at over $173,000 (median), and best of all, it’s not New York. If living near all the action of the Big Apple sounds nice, but you wouldn’t want to live right in it, meet Pelham Manor. It’s just lovely this time of year.
Okay, there’s a reason this little island town’s motto is “Island Paradise.” I mean, just look at the picture. This place is beautiful. And of course expensive with a median home price of almost $1 million—but hey, which of these amazing suburbs isn’t a little on the posh side? Besides, you get what you pay for—and in Key Biscayne, that’s a whole lot.
Your neighbors are not only close by, as it’s densely-populated, but they’re also likely to be intelligent company, with a college grad percentage of 73 percent. Smart choice: moving to Key Biscayne.
This place is pretty aptly known as “The Best Little Beach City,” which kind of sums up everything you need to know. But we’ll go ahead and give you the details, as well.
The first reason it made it into our top 10 was for its median home price— $1 million. Sure that means it’s expensive to live here, but it also indicates how desirable a location it is. And really, what’s not to love—it’s near L.A. (but not in L.A., thank you very much), it’s densely-populated, and when it comes to all things beach, it’s hard to beat. Well, maybe until you visit our next suburb.
Last but certainly not least is the beautiful and oh so hip Manhattan Beach. If you live here, you can forget about having to drive into L.A. for entertainment and good food—it’s just outside your door. In fact, downtown Manhattan Beach is tightly packed with all sorts of boutiques and critically raved about restaurants.
Of course buying a place here is expensive (a median home price of $1 million), but hey you get what you pay for—beautiful beaches, a walkable downtown, restaurants, close (and smart!) neighbors, and best of all perhaps, it isn’t L.A.
We said it once and we’ll say it again—life in the big city isn’t for everyone. At least not all the time. So if you’re hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city, like Houston, New York, San Fran, or D.C., but don’t want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.