Many may wonder, what exactly makes a place an ideal hometown? Perhaps affordability, an area with a stellar school system, and access to shopping—depending on priorities, any of these might be deciding factors in choosing the best place to live in America.

To help make a choice, Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2021 rankings. Niche ranks places to live based on an array of factors, including the cost of living, educational level of residents, housing, and public schools. While this data is the most current available, some housing statistics Niche uses to calculate its rankings—such as median home values and housing costs—are not entirely reflective of the current housing market. Since these numbers are subject to frequent changes and housing represents 10% of Niche’s total ranking, those statistics are omitted from forthcoming data points and do not detract from Niche’s overall assessment of the best places to live. Check out the details of Niche’s methodology.

The list features college towns, suburbs, and cities. Many are appealing for varied reasons—from their safe environments and commitment to education to their proximity to the cultural attractions of an urban area and nearby wilderness for hiking and skiing. Some grew popular when a major company moved in, boosting local job opportunities. Some are especially quaint and historical, while others have been experiencing tech booms.

Whether you are looking to relocate, just daydreaming about a change of scenery, or curious to see if your hometown is mentioned, take a look at the American towns and cities that have earned their spot—and read why—on our list of the top 25 places to live in the U.S.

  • #25. Fishers, Indiana


    – Population: 90,332
    – Population that owns a home: 78%
    – Population that rents a home: 22%
    – Median household income: $109,454

    As this Indianapolis suburb has experienced rapid growth, schools in Fishers were the beneficiaries of heavy investment starting in 2018. Geist Reservoir is a popular recreation spot, and there is an annual renaissance fair. Several members of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers have resided in Fishers.

  • #24. Swarthmore, Pennsylvania


    – Population: 6,318
    – Population that owns a home: 77%
    – Population that rents a home: 23%
    – Median household income: $107,778

    In Swarthmore, a suburb of Philadelphia, crime rates are low, and schools are highly ranked. Public school test scores are 46% above the national average. But Swarthmore’s cost of living, driven by high housing prices, is 30% higher than the national average. It is home to prestigious Swarthmore College, founded in 1864 by Quakers.

  • #23. Cary, North Carolina

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    – Population: 166,268
    – Population that owns a home: 68%
    – Population that rents a home: 32%
    – Median household income: $104,669

    Cary, located near North Carolina’s Research Triangle, has been called one of the safest cities in America by some outlets. The town hosts the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League, and USA Baseball’s national training complex. Cary has its own public transportation system with fixed-route and door-to-door service.

  • #22. Long Grove, Illinois

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    – Population: 7,963
    – Population that owns a home: 98%
    – Population that rents a home: 2%
    – Median household income: $214,073

    Long Grove, the first historic district designated in the state of Illinois, has cobblestone walks and charming architecture that dates to the 1800s. Northwest of Chicago, the village recently renovated its one-lane covered bridge.

  • #21. Clarendon Hills, Illinois


    – Population: 8,716
    – Population that owns a home: 84%
    – Population that rents a home: 16%
    – Median household income: $111,958

    Suburban Clarendon Hills, Illinois, draws families and young professionals alike with its quality schools, low crime rates, and proximity to Chicago. The typical commute—more than 32 minutes—is longer than the national average. Most people use public transit to get to work.

  • #20. Stone Ridge, Virginia


    – Population: 14,220
    – Population that owns a home: 87%
    – Population that rents a home: 13%
    – Median household income: $153,628

    Stone Ridge, Virginia, is less than 40 miles from Washington D.C., and close to Dulles International Airport. Its housing stock features single-family homes, condominiums, and townhomes, and nearly nine out of 10 families own their homes. The town has a clubhouse with a fitness center, an amphitheater, three swimming pools, miles of walking trails, and the Loudoun County Gum Spring Library.

  • #19. Santa Monica, California


    – Population: 91,577
    – Population that owns a home: 29%
    – Population that rents a home: 71%
    – Median household income: $96,570

    The Santa Monica Pier is this coastal city’s iconic landmark, providing entertainment and scenic views for more than a century. A film festival and outdoor shopping attractions draw visitors and locals, who can arrive via Santa Monica Airport. In 2028, residents will watch beach volleyball and surfing competitions from the area during the Summer Olympics.

  • #18. Morrisville, North Carolina


    – Population: 26,280
    – Population that owns a home: 48%
    – Population that rents a home: 52%
    – Median household income: $101,738

    Technology company Lenovo has a giant headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, which makes sense given the town’s location within the state’s Research Triangle. Good public schools, the housing market, and jobs have put Morrisville atop lists of the best places to live.

  • #17. North Potomac, Maryland


    – Population: 23,914
    – Population that owns a home: 84%
    – Population that rents a home: 16%
    – Median household income: $171,066

    About 20 miles from Washington D.C., North Potomac, Maryland, has a low unemployment rate and a good housing market. It is home to elementary schools that are among the best in Maryland. During the spring and fall, trails throughout North Potomac become full of fitness enthusiasts.

  • #16. Brentwood, Missouri


    – Population: 8,005
    – Population that owns a home: 64%
    – Population that rents a home: 36%
    – Median household income: $81,069

    Brentwood, Missouri, residents tend to be white-collar professionals, many in computer and math fields. The Brentwood Ice Rink hosts the St. Louis Rockets, a youth hockey organization, and the St. Louis Skating Club, a figure skating club founded in 1932. It ranks among the top 10 school districts in the state. Real estate prices are high compared with the rest of Missouri.

  • #15. Chesterfield, Missouri

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    – Population: 47,605
    – Population that owns a home: 78%
    – Population that rents a home: 22%
    – Median household income: $113,315

    While there are many nearby wonders in St. Louis, few of the big city’s attractions are as specific as the Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Missouri, a butterfly zoo that opened in 1998. One of Chesterfield’s most famous former residents is pitcher Max Scherzer, who won a World Series title with the Washington Nationals in 2019.

  • #14. Great Neck Plaza, New York

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    – Population: 6,957
    – Population that owns a home: 59%
    – Population that rents a home: 41%
    – Median household income: $92,260

    Great Neck Plaza is home to educated, affluent professionals. The village is diverse, with foreign-born residents accounting for 29% of the population. For those who have to commute, local public transportation such as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is often used to get to work.

  • #13. Ottawa Hills, Ohio

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    – Population: 4,450
    – Population that owns a home: 86%
    – Population that rents a home: 14%
    – Median household income: $155,893

    Ottawa Hills, Ohio, located near the University of Toledo in northwestern Ohio, gets high ratings for being family-friendly, safe, and quiet. But its cost of living and its home and rental prices are much higher than elsewhere in the state.

  • #12. Oakwood, Ohio


    – Population: 8,982
    – Population that owns a home: 80%
    – Population that rents a home: 20%
    – Median household income: $112,917

    Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton, offers convenience and has something for everyone with its close proximity to downtown dining and shopping options, places of worship, and parks with hiking trails. For those looking for a safe, tight-knit active community, most kids in Oakwood walk or ride their bikes to school and neighbors know each other by name. As of December 2021, the median sale price for Oakwood homes was $264,900, with most residents owning their own place.

  • #11. Brookline, Massachusetts

    Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

    – Population: 59,180
    – Population that owns a home: 49%
    – Population that rents a home: 51%
    – Median household income: $117,326

    Located outside of Boston, Brookline has its own puppet theater—the Puppet Showplace Theater. Visitors can also step inside John F. Kennedy’s childhood home. Comedian Conan O’Brien is among the noted graduates of Brookline High School.

  • #10. Houserville, Pennsylvania


    – Population: 1,972
    – Population that owns a home: 82%
    – Population that rents a home: 18%
    – Median household income: $90,750

    The tiny town of Houserville is close to Penn State University. It has a rural feel, and its housing prices are not much higher than the national average. Students attend State College Area High School, rated the best high school in the county, and the elementary schools are also rated high nationally.

  • #9. Ardmore, Pennsylvania


    – Population: 12,808
    – Population that owns a home: 59%
    – Population that rents a home: 41%
    – Median household income: $96,780

    Ardmore is an affluent, historic suburb of Philadelphia. One of the first shopping centers in the country, its Suburban Square, opened in 1928. There’s also shopping at Lancaster Avenue and nearby streets, and a farmers market. Five weekends each year, Ardmore hosts the Clover Market of vintage and artisanal goods, and each year it hosts its Ardmore Restaurant Week and Ardmore Oktoberfest.

  • #8. Clayton, Missouri

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    – Population: 16,588
    – Population that owns a home: 59%
    – Population that rents a home: 41%
    – Median household income: $107,596

    Clayton, Missouri’s restaurants specialize in pastries, with doughnuts a favorite among locals. Various dog parks, camps, and the Historic Hanley House museum are notable points of interest in town. Washington University—one of the Midwest’s most prestigious higher education institutions—has a property in Clayton.

  • #7. Holly Hills, Colorado


    – Population: 2,835
    – Population that owns a home: 97%
    – Population that rents a home: 3%
    – Median household income: $132,955

    Holly Hills, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, gets top reviews as a place to raise a family and a place to retire. It’s walkable and diverse, with good public schools. Nearly all its homes are older, built between 1940 and 1969, and many have four or more bedrooms. Downtown Denver is easily accessible by light rail.

  • #6. Los Alamos, New Mexico


    – Population: 12,666
    – Population that owns a home: 67%
    – Population that rents a home: 33%
    – Median household income: $116,116

    Los Alamos is known as the birthplace of the atom bomb, but that in no way detracts from its charm and livability. It has more than 300 days of sunshine each year, easy access to wilderness mesas, mountains, and canyons, and a thriving arts scene. Its schools have been named the best in the state, and jobs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory draw highly educated and innovative people to the area.

  • #5. Richmond Heights, Missouri


    – Population: 8,500
    – Population that owns a home: 56%
    – Population that rents a home: 44%
    – Median household income: $82,261

    Located near St. Louis, Richmond Heights, Missouri, is filled with stately older homes, mostly built before World War II. Most working residents are white-collar professionals, although it also has a remarkably high number of resident artists, designers, and members of the media. More than 70% of adults have a four-year college degree, master’s degree, doctorate, or degrees in medicine or law, compared with a national average of less than 22%.

  • #4. Carmel, Indiana

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    – Population: 97,464
    – Population that owns a home: 76%
    – Population that rents a home: 24%
    – Median household income: $112,765

    In recent years, Carmel, Indiana, has been recognized as the best place to raise a family in Indiana, one of America’s safest cities, and the best place to launch a career. Besides being Niche’s best place to live in America, Carmel, an Indianapolis suburb, has a serene Japanese garden.

  • #3. Okemos, Michigan

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    – Population: 24,141
    – Population that owns a home: 61%
    – Population that rents a home: 39%
    – Median household income: $78,600

    Named after a Chippewa chief, Okemos is a favored settling site for employees and visitors of nearby Michigan State University. The Okemos schools are diverse and among the best ranked in Michigan. A short drive away, Potter Park Zoo is a favored attraction for children. Art and architecture admirers can also marvel at the Goetsch–Winckler House in Okemos.

  • #2. Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania


    – Population: 5,932
    – Population that owns a home: 87%
    – Population that rents a home: 13%
    – Median household income: $123,854

    In the leafy Philadelphia suburb of Penn Wynne, public school test scores are 81% higher than the national average, and all but 1.5% of its students graduate high school. Crime rates are extremely low. But the cost of living is high, pushed up in particular b

  • #1. Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania


    – Population: 4,800
    – Population that owns a home: 77%
    – Population that rents a home: 23%
    – Median household income: $130,000

    Residents enjoy top-quality schools, parklands, quiet streets, and safety in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, a suburb that’s about a 30-minute drive from Philadelphia. It’s adjacent to Valley Forge National Historical Park, the site of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of George Washington and the Continental Army. During that time, the ragtag soldiers trained to become a disciplined and unified force.

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