America's 50 best towns to live in, 2016

America's 50 best towns to live in, 2016

By Sid Lipsey

Rochester just earned some serious Midwest bragging rights.

Minnesota's third-largest city has taken over the No. 1 spot on's list of the best places to live for 2016, knocking last year's winner, Madison, Wisconsin, to third place. Rochester placed second last year.

Rochester, home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic, was cited for its health care scene, as well as its schools, affordable housing and entertainment options.

The Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Washington, came in at No. 2. Santa Barbara, California, and Boulder, Colorado, round out the Top 5.

The winner, Rochester. Click on a photo for a slideshow for's 50 Best Places to Live.
The winner, Rochester. Click on a photo for a slideshow for's 50 Best Places to Live.

This is's third annual Best Places to Live rankings, for which the site partnered with New York University’s School of Professional Studies and the research firm EMSI pored over reams of data, both public and private, on more than 2,100 U.S. cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000.

Sorry, New York and L.A.! We asked about that. “The big cities always get the most attention, but big cities aren’t for everyone," editor Matt Carmichael tells Yahoo Homes. "We know that there are great places to live in these smaller to midsize communities, and we want to shine some light on them and tell their stories.” (Small towns are broken out in a separate list; you can find last year's on the website, with the next installment due soon.)

Cities were judged in eight categories: their economy, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, "social and civic capital," education and healthcare. Those categories factor in such elements as affordability, crime, diversity, infrastructure and climate. The selection of these factors was informed by an Ipsos Public Affairs survey in which 2,000 people were asked what qualities they like in their cities.

“Our name is ‘Livability,' so it’s important for us to get this right," Carmichael says of the rigorous, months-long study. You can read more about its methodology on its website.

"We’re not turning around tomorrow and doing a list of top celebrities, or top pets or top celebrity pets," he says. "We’re focused on best places to live, so we invest in the exclusive research, work with the best collaborators and listen to our advisors as we put this ranking together."

We're publishing's top 50 picks here; visit its website for the remaining cities in its top 100. Where available, we've also noted the median sales price for homes in each city, provided by Trulia.

Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of's 50 Best Places to Live, 2016 edition.

More rankings on Yahoo Homes:

America's hottest ZIP Codes
The most pest-infested cities in the nation
The most expensive ZIP Codes