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What are the best cities to live in?

Find out the best cities to live in for singles and retirees.

Some people prefer a mix of nature in their city. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Some people prefer a mix of nature in their city.

The best cities to live in depend on individual priorities and factors that can change over time with shifts in the economy or environment. To find out which cities are best for business, refer to Forbes, which publishes yearly rankings of the best cities in the United States for businesses and careers. In 2008, Forbes ranked many cities in the southeast as welcoming for businesses.

Topping this list for larger metropolitan areas was Raleigh, N.C., which was evaluated on the basis of job growth, the costs of doing business and the educational attainment of the labor supply. Forbes' choice for the city with the highest rating for education attainment in 2008 was Boulder, Colo. The financial magazine Kiplinger also publishes a yearly ranking with an emphasis on financial opportunity, with Houston, Texas, taking the prize in 2008.

Smaller cities are ranked at CNNMoney.com on job availability, quality of education, quality of life and the affordability of housing. Topping the rankings in 2008 were Plymouth, Minn.; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Naperville, Ill. CNNMoney.com also publishes a yearly ranking of top towns for singles. Hoboken, N.J., was at the top of the list in 2008, but San Francisco took the top spot for singles with Forbes in 2007. In related Forbes categories, New York City took the top 2007 rating for nightlife, and San Francisco for culture.

In 2003 AARP published a list of the 15 best places for retirees to reinvent their lives. This list considers, among other factors, the cost of housing, culture, safety and public transportation. Leading this list are Loveland/Fort Collins, Colo.; Bellingham, Wash.; and Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C. For retirees in bigger cities, CNNMoney.com ranks some of the most friendly retirement neighborhoods in metropolitan areas, including Hudson Heights in New York City, the South Loop in Chicago and South Park in Los Angeles.

For the environmentally minded, Reader's Digest ranks the world's greenest cities. New York City earns top marks for any American city in 2007, with Washington, D.C. and Chicago also ranking in the top 25. Most of Reader's Digests' greenest cities, however, are located outside of the United States and include many European capitals and population centers.

In additional to rankings of U.S. cities, Forbes.com publishes the top 10 European cities to live in, with Zurich, Switzerland, earning top points in 2008. To do your own research on which cities are the best to live in, make a list of your priorities and compare them online with results from the U.S. Census Bureau. The census provides city-by-city information including facts about population, costs of housing, economic conditions, median incomes and health facts like infant mortality rates.

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