MONEY announces the 2020 BEST PLACES TO LIVE in the U.S., as the pandemic prompts a shift away from urban living
ROCKWALL, TX – September 22, 2020 – Following its inaugural list of the Best Mortgage Lenders of 2020, Money – the digital destination for personal finance and news – announces its annual ranking of the Best Places to Live featuring 50 towns and cities where the economy, job growth, and housing market remained strong despite COVID-19 disruptions. This year, Money looked at towns and cities with a population of at least 25,000 and ranked the Best Places to Live putting the greatest emphasis on economic factors, like employment opportunities, as well as supply and demand for homes, cost of living, quality of schools, racial and economic diversity, and health and safety.
Money’s No. 1 pick for Best Places to Live this year is Evans, Georgia which is brimming with good-paying jobs thanks to its proximity to Augusta as well as affordable homes, top schools, access to arts and culture, and a diverse population, which some residents attribute to its military presence. In June, Evans residents saw a low unemployment rate of 5.2%, which was well below the 11.1% national average. Evans also had the lowest cost of living of any place with similarly high-income levels. Parker, Colorado and Meridian, Idaho landed in second and third place, respectively. Both cities topped the list because of access to high paying jobs in the booming tech sector, a healthy economy, and remarkable proximity to nature and outdoor activities.
“This year, given the general uncertainty around where and how we’ll live, our list looks a little different,” said Prachi Bhardwaj, lead reporter of Money’s Best Places to Live. “We shifted our priorities to pay more attention to cities that aren’t just doing well now, but that show great promise and stability for the next five to ten years. We also included suburban towns situated further away from major metros and have more industry diversity than you’ve seen from our list in years past.”
Money’s Top 20 Best Places to Live include:
- Evans, GA
- Parker, CO
- Meridian, Idaho
- Rockwall, Texas (see excerpt below)
- Columbia, Maryland
- Westfield, Indiana
- Syracuse, Utah
- Franklin, Tennessee
- Woodbury, Minnesota
- Morrisville, North Carolina
- Ashburn, Virginia
- South Windsor, Connecticut
- St Peters, Missouri
- Chelmsford, Massachusetts
- Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
- Mount Laurel, New Jersey
- Woodstock, Georgia
- Broomfield, Colorado
- Abington, Pennsylvania
- Midlothian, Virginia
Rockwall makes its debut on the Best Places to Live list this year, thanks to its status as one of the fastest-growing cities in one of the nation’s fastest-growing states. This Dallas suburb has experienced 19% job growth over the last five years and is projected to grow another 17% in the next five.
While Rockwall has not been immune to pandemic-related job losses, it’s made a relatively swift recovery. In June, the local unemployment rate sat at 7.2%, compared to a national average of 11.1%. Large employers in Rockwall include Special Products, a metal manufacturing company, Bimbo Bakeries, which manufactures breads and pastries, and L3Harris, an aerospace and defense contractor. Rockwall is also home to Texas Health Hospital Rockwall, which employs over 600 people.
And the people of Rockwall have definitely been reaping the benefits of its growth. Residents enjoy a median household income of $101,000, much higher than the state median of $67,000, while more than three-quarters own their own homes.
It’s not all work. Rockwall’s super-walkable downtown district has a small-town vibe, with historic false-front buildings and a broad variety of locally owned shops and restaurants. In the summer and fall, live music events liven up San Jacinto Plaza, while the Rockwall Farmers’ Market attracts visitors from all over the Dallas metro area. Fresh peaches, grass-fed beef, and honey from Texas bees are all available on Saturdays from May to September.
The biggest draw, however — and the first thing you see coming from Dallas across the 4-mile-long Lake Ray Hubbard Bridge — is the waterfront Harbor District with a lighthouse, boat slips and amphitheater which regularly holds live concerts by artists like The Voice’s Hannah Kirby, among others. — Mayra Paris
As part of the Best Places to Live feature, the Money team continues reporting on how the pandemic has prompted more people to make the change from city living to suburban dwelling. Whether it’s because of a need for more indoor or outdoor space or a desire to invest and build wealth, Money offers readers a guide on everything you need to know about moving to the suburbs, buying a starter home, and capitalizing on record low mortgage rates. Highlights include:
- The Ultimate Guide to Leaving the City: Scores of urbanites are now leaving big cities for the suburbs. Be that as it may, the allure of a big home and a green lawn comes with extra homeowner responsibilities. What will home buyers need to know about property taxes, home maintenance, neighborhood association fees, and more?
- Moving to a New State? Mortgage Rates Might Be Higher—How to Get the Best Deal: Though mortgage rates have hovered near records lows all summer, the truth is there’s no national real estate market. Mortgage rates, like home prices, vary from one place to the next—and that could mean much higher homebuying costs for some movers this fall. Money experts share insight on how to get the best deal on mortgage rates.
- The Hassle-Free Guide to Refinancing Your Mortgage: Mortgage rates keep falling. Freddie Mac’s widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put rates at 2.86%, the lowest rate since the company began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. Yet, some experts say refinancing right now doesn’t make sense for every homeowner. What are the questions every homeowner needs to ask to determine whether now is the right time to refinance?
Plus, Money’s continuing coverage around the day’s best mortgage rates gives readers up-to-date information about home-buying with exclusive data to help consumers make informed choices.
Money has a nearly 50-year legacy of guiding people to financial victories with up-to-date information, education, and tools. Money, a digital destination, helps create richer lives for everyone—in every sense of the word. Signature franchises include a bevy of Best-In categories such as Best Mortgage Lenders, Best Homeowner Insurance, Best Life Insurance, Best Auto Insurance, Best VA Loans, Best High-Yield Savings Accounts, Best Credit Cards, Best Colleges, and Best Places to Live, with an aim to improve your finances and promote your well-being. For more information, visit Money.com.
Submitted press release, edited for publication in Blue Ribbon News.
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