No. 9 Flagstaff, Arizona

New energy runs through this Old West city.

Population: 126,087

Income Growth: 9.8%

Cost of Living Index: 116

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Median Household Income: $48,171

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 29%

Unlike the trains that regularly come through town, singing out reminders of Flagstaff's heritage, this city is far from predictable. You can feel its Old West charm through and through, but Flagstaff is infused with new energy -- both from its residents and college students at Northern Arizona University. The university adds jobs to the city's economy, plus arts and entertainment to its cultural scene.

The government is big business in Flagstaff, which is the Coconino County seat. The second-biggest industry is tourism, a result of the city's proximity to the Grand Canyon and Indian ruins at Wupatki and Walnut Canyon.

Because the city is nestled at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, the last thing you'd expect to find is a manufacturing sector. But Nestlé Purina and SCA Tissue have facilities here, and Southwest Windpower calls Flagstaff home.

NEXT: No. 10 Raleigh

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Jessica L. Anderson
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Anderson has been with Kiplinger since January 2004, when she joined the staff as a reporter. Since then, she's covered the gamut of personal finance issues—from mortgages and credit to spending wisely—and she heads up Kiplinger's annual automotive rankings. She holds a BA in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the 2012 president of the Washington Automotive Press Association and serves on its board of directors. In 2014, she was selected for the North American Car and Truck Of the Year jury. The awards, presented at the Detroit Auto Show, have come to be regarded as the most prestigious of their kind in the U.S. because they involve no commercial tie-ins. The jury is composed of nationally recognized journalists from across the U.S. and Canada, who are selected on the basis of audience reach, experience, expertise, product knowledge, and reputation in the automotive community.