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Best Cities, States & Places

Smart Cities for All Stages of Life

Whether you're a young single or a retiree, we've picked the ideal cities for you for every stage of life.

We understand that one person's perfect place to live may not be another's cup of tea. But it's also true that people at different life stages tend to be looking for the same things in a city.

Singles lean to a scintillating night life. Families and young couples with kids look for great education. Retirees rank healthcare highly. And everyone wants affordable housing and a reasonable cost of living.

So to help you pick the perfect spot for your next life change, we've picked five cities that rate highly for people in the five main life stages: singles, young couples, families, empty nesters and retirees. Our selections are based on our Smart Cities story. For that story we joined forces with Bert Sperling, co-author of Cities Ranked & Rated (Wiley, $25) and host of


50 Smart Places to Live

Slide Show: Top Ten Smart Cities

Affordable Homes in Our Top Ten Cities

Key to our Smart Cities list were places where you could buy an attractive house for $300,000 to $400,000 or less. Access to quality health care was also a must, as was a strong economy. Once we narrowed down the list, we traveled to the cities that bubbled to the top to speak with residents and savor the flavor of their neighborhoods.


These are our top five picks for each stage of life. A number of factors went into the selection of each city for each category, but our choices aren't ranked. They are listed alphabetically.

As you click through our slide show, you'll see that Austin ranks in all five categories, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is in four. For people who like the idea of settling in a single city for life, these great cities stand head and shoulders above the rest.