The top 25 places to launch a career, raise a family, retire in style, and more. June 1, 2007 Where you live is key to your wealth and happiness, no matter what stage of life you're in. You want an economy that fosters rising wages and challenging opportunities. You also want a vibrant place that fits your lifestyle. In short, you want a place with a thriving creative class -- the people who help spawn the activities that bring a city to life.The creative class includes scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists and entertainers. Those are our kind of people, because they include a broad swath of our readers. They're also the subject of Richard Florida's pioneering work The Rise of the Creative Class, published in 2002, a blueprint for how cities become successful cultural centers in the 21st century. RELATED LINKS Criteria for Our Best Cities Picks Which City Is Best For You? PODCAST: How We Picked the Cities Now Florida, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, is using creative-class criteria to pick great places to live for different times in your life -- whether you're just starting out, married with children, a midlife professional, an empty-nester or retired. We partnered with Florida and his associates to generate our Kiplinger/Richard Florida 25 Best Cities. The 25 winning cities were selected not just because they have a strong creative class (see all our criteria). Each is well suited in several ways to a different stage of your life. Those judged best for raising families have great schools, for example. Those for retirees provide exceptional and reasonably priced health care. Each winning city has a large number of people who are in a particular stage of life. Some locales are pricey, but higher salaries in those cities may mitigate the cost of living. Advertisement We think our cities will resonate in particular with the group that makes up so many of our readers. "Baby-boomers," Florida points out, "are making more moves strictly to improve their lifestyle." Best Cities for Young Singles The cities that ranked highly for young singles score well on rental affordability and have a high number of bars and restaurants per capita. Best Cities for Mid-Level Professionals Areas with lots of career opportunities, growth in wages and affordable housing made our cut. Best Cities for Married With Kids All these cities have wholesome environments and plenty of things families can do together. Best Cities for Empty-Nesters We picked cities with a strong cultural mix and plenty of outdoor amenities. Best Cities for Retirees These places offer vibrant cultural and education amenities, reasonable health-care costs, good health-care availability and a low total crime rate.