real estate

Best Cities to Live, Work and Play

These ten best cities offer a mix of professional opportunities, economic growth and lots of entertainment options.

Our approach this year to picking the ten best cities in which to live and work was simple: Look for places with strong economies and abundant jobs, then demand reasonable living costs and plenty of fun things to do. When we ran the numbers, some of the names that popped up made us do a double take at first. So we hit the road to meet movers, shakers and regular folks, experience the ambience and take in the sights.

SEE OUR COMPLETE GUIDE: Best Cities for Your Future

We discovered that our numbers guru, Kevin Stolarick, hadn't steered us wrong. Stolarick, research director at the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity, says: "Our formula highlights cities not just with strong past performance, but also with all the ingredients for future success." One key to a bright future is a healthy shot of people in the creative class. People in creative fields -- scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists and entertainers -- are catalysts of vitality and livability in a city.

The cities that made our list also represent larger surrounding areas. And because we understand that city living isn't for everyone, we've highlighted some great suburbs, too.

Pack a bag and join us on a tour of the Best Cities for 2008 and prepare for some surprises.

No. 1: Houston,Texas

No. 2: Raleigh, N.C.

No. 3: Omaha, Neb.

No. 4: Boise, Idaho

No. 5: Colorado Springs, Colo.

No. 6: Austin, Texas

No. 7: Fayetteville, Ark.

No. 8: Sacramento, Calif.

No. 9: Des Moines, Iowa

No. 10: Provo, Utah

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