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The American economy continues to improve.  The housing market is getting back to “normal.”  Even the job market is looking up for many people.  You may be thinking that now is a good time to relocate to another part of the country.  Whether it’s because you want a change or scenery, a chance to reinvent yourself, or to find a better place to raise your kids, there are a number of cities that are topping the “best” lists in 2015. Assuming you have the freedom to decide where to go, you need to narrow down your choices to figure out the best destination for you.

Why are You Moving?

Seattle - downtownBefore you start packing your stuff, you need to decide where you want to settle. To do that, you need to know why you’re moving.  Some cities are great for jobs. Others offer the best schools and environment for raising kids. You need to identify what you’re seeking.

  1. Make a list of your ideal characteristics for a city. Consider things like climate, topography, proximity to extended family or friends, job opportunities, cost of living, schools, etc.
  2. Assign a rank to each characteristic, so you know which are deal-breakers and which are negotiable.
  3. If you have a family, make sure that your spouse and children get a say in what characteristics they want.
  4. Start researching cities and communities based on your criteria.

Best Places to Live in 2015

If you are looking for a city with good job prospects and a healthy economy, you should start by looking at places like Seattle, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Gilbert (AZ), and Freemont (CA). They all have low unemployment rates and job growth.  You can also look at specific fields to determine where the jobs are for your industry.

If you’re more concerned with finding the “hottest” cities which have not just a high livability and affordability index but are cool and likely to be innovative for the next decade or so, try Austin, Washington D.C., Nashville, Queens, Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburg, Houston, and Detroit. Other “hot” places to live include Cambridge (MA), Oakland (CA), Venice (CA), and Burlingon (VT).

Does affordability top your list of relocation criteria? Based on cost of living, taxes, and related criteria, you should consider moving to Dayton (OH), Rochester (MN), Lansing (MI), Topeka (KS), Fort Wayne (IN), Lawton (OK), Round Rock (TX), or Appleton (WI).

Berkeley CATired of big cities but not ready for rural life? There are a number of great places to live in small and mid-sized cities. They have populations anywhere from 20,000 to 350,000 and rank high in livability metrics like jobs, healthcare, schools, etc.  In this category you’ll find cities like Iowa City, Boulder, Boise, Madison, Berkeley, and Palo Alto.  Other cities that rank highly in this criteria include Missoula (MT), Rochester (MN), Arlington (VA), and Santa Clara (CA).

Remember, no matter how many “best” lists a specific city makes, it comes down to where you — and your family — can thrive and be happy.

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