These Are the Most Prosperous Cities in America

Much like finding a significant other, you probably have a checklist of deal breakers and makers when it comes to deciding where you want to live next. The most attractive options (on both sides) will be capable of progress and beaming with vitality.

Though choosing a city to put down roots is hardly a marriage proposal, you want to make sure you make a wise decision that will hold up in the long run. You consider median incomes, home values, education levels, and unemployment rates, among other things. Tracking down these places is no easy feat. Luckily, Rent Café did most of the hard work for you already. They found the most prosperous cities in America by analyzing six different indicators of success and how they’ve changed between 2000 and 2016. Where are the most prosperous cities in the U.S? These 15 metropolises are riding a wave of momentum as some of America’s most successful cities.

15. Seattle, Washington

Seattle city skyline

Home values in Seattle have skyrocketed. | Peter Muller/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+37%) and Higher Education (+28%)

Rent Café lists Seattle as one of America’s most prosperous cities. The Emerald City has enjoyed a sizable boost in home values (a median value of $767,000, according to Zillow estimates) as well as the number of residents with a bachelor’s degree. Though the city made bold moves regarding its stance on minimum wage recently, Seattle did see a 10% increase in poverty levels since 2000.

Next: Everyone’s moving to this city

14. Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth Texas.

People are moving to Forth Worth in droves. | Kirkikis/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Population (+52%) and Home Value (+34%)

Multiple Texas cities interrupt the East Coast/West Coast battle, claiming six spots in the top 20 list. We’ll see why a bit later. Data shows people are moving to Fort Worth in droves, most likely to take advantage of the low cost of living Texas residents enjoy. Those looking to make a move for the better should do so soon. Fort Worth home values have gone up 12.4% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will jump another 4.1% within the next year.

Next: Good and bad in the Carolinas

13. Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington NC

Wilmington is prosperous, but faces challenges. | sy02999/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Population (+51%) and Home Value (+31%)

The picture of Wilmington’s prosperity is a bit of a head-scratcher. On one hand, the real estate market in the Port City is thriving, as are efforts to increase education. But soaking up life in this beach town could prove more difficult underneath the surface. Wilmington experienced the second highest poverty spike on the list and it’s been named as America’s top city for opioid abuse by healthcare information company, Castlight Health.

Next: A hidden gem on the West Coast

12. Santa Maria, California

open sign SANTA MARIA

A restaurant in Santa Maria, California. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+41%) and Population (+34%)

Located just outside California’s bustling tech scene, Santa Maria is a great option if you’re hoping to secure a steady paycheck on the West Coast. This agriculture and manufacturing town is the 12th most prosperous city thanks to a respectable unemployment rate and a reasonable cost of living comparatively. But make the jump soon. Zillow says homes in Santa Maria run about $379,500 currently but will likely rise 7.9% within the next year.

Next: A notorious city

11. New York, New York

New York City

New York is one of only 11 cities that improved on all six prosperity metrics. | Sborisov/iStock/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+64%) and Higher Education (+32%)

Few would be surprised to learn that New York City is firing on all cylinders. The hustle and bustle apparent on every sidewalk just oozes prosperity and progress. The Big Apple is one of just 11 cities overall that showed improvement across all six prosperity metrics, with home values and higher education at the forefront of advancement.

Next: Another Texas city flexing its muscle

10. Midland, Texas

Midlands Texas

Oil helps to fuel Midland’s economy. | Maxine Weiss/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+82%) and Population (+35%)

Life is good in Midland, Texas. It’s one of two cities where income rose 30% or more since 2000. Rent Café attributes this to an upswing in crude oil production nationwide. Since Texas is responsible for more than one-third of the nation’s crude oil output, it’s no surprise that unemployment rates in Midland put other metropolises like New York and Los Angeles to shame. It fell by 25% from 2000 to 2016.

Next: A secret resort town

9. Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Tx.

Brownsville is a thriving border town. | DavieJones13/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Higher Education (+35%) and Population (+30%)

The prosperity narrative further south in Brownsville, Texas, is similar to Midland. It’s a thriving border town and mini-resort area catering to Texans escaping wintery conditions in the north. This town’s biggest claim to prosperity fame is its educational improvement. Given the fact that Brownsville also saw the highest change in unemployment suggests more than a few people have caught on to Brownsville’s secret to success.

Next: A prosperous life, guaranteed.

8. Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida,

Miami is one of the best cities for job seekers in 2018. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Higher Education (+54%) and Home Value (+48%)

Career site Indeed marks Miami as one of the top cities for job seekers in 2018, especially when considering job security. Rent Café data echoes that sentiment with a 54% jump in higher education and a respectable unemployment upgrade (19%). Sun, sand, and security. What could be better?

Next: Career opportunities abound

7. Pearland, Texas

Pearland, Texas, USA

Pearland is close to Houston. | TrongNguyen/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Population (+183%) and Higher Education (57%)

WalletHub named Pearland, Texas, one of the fastest-growing cities in America in 2017. Its population swelled by a whopping 183% in 16 years. Pearland is within a comfortable distance to Texas Medical Center in Houston as well as other large employers, which makes this city a top choice for millennials and baby boomers alike.

Next: A city making big moves for the future

6. Jersey City, New Jersey

Hudson Riverfront in Jersey City

Home values in Jersey City have increased dramatically since 2000. | RolfSt/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+71%) and Higher Education (+61%)

Investors suggest that the local real estate market is one of the best predictors of economic prosperity. So the fact that Jersey City posted a 71% uptick in home value since 2000 proves this city is one worth considering. New Jersey is one of a handful of states preparing to capitalize on legalized sports betting and the influx of cash that comes along with it. Also, it’s consistently named one of America’s most diverse cities.

Next: An award-winning city

5. North Charleston, South Carolina

North Charleston, South Carolina

North Charleston is a great place to live and visit. | digidreamgrafix/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+59%) and Higher Education (+53%)

Travel + Leisure praises North Charleston for its culture, food scene, and small-town charm. That alone would be enough to entice most people inside its borders, but Rent Café suggests there are other financial benefits to living in North Charleston. Home values have risen 59% since 2000, yet the median value remains affordable at just $159,500 according to Zillow. Unemployment is also satisfactory, suggesting residents can maintain a comfortable lifestyle in this coastal town.

Next: An outlier

4. Fontana, California

Fontana, California

Fontana is a suburb of Los Angeles.  | Mark Ramsperger/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Population (+60%) and Home Value (+60%)

Fontana, both a small agricultural town and regional trucking hub, lands solidly within America’s top five most prosperous cities. Population soared between 2000 and 2016, as did the real estate market and the city’s educational prowess. What’s most interesting, though, is that Fontana outranked other flourishing cities despite having a 3% higher poverty rate and an 18% higher unemployment rate than in 2000.

Next: The third most prosperous city in America

3. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Charleston is one of the most prosperous cities in America. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+39%) and Population (+35%)

Charleston, South Carolina, is the third most prosperous city in America, which means living basically anywhere in and around Charleston is a wise move both personally and professionally. The aerospace industry impacts the city most. Rent Café mentions an economic impact study from 2015 that shows the aviation cluster had doubled in four years, accounting for 40% of the area’s Gross Metropolitan Product at the time.

Next: People are flocking to this city

2. Washington, DC

Washington DC, USA skyline

The nation’s capital is booming. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+135%) and Higher Education (+42%)

If you want to know just how much the nation’s capital is booming, just look at the housing market. Demand is so high for such little inventory that Washington DC has turned into an overvalued market. Home values have ballooned a staggering 135% since 2000 lifting the median home value to $566,000. Its high cost of living shouldn’t be much of a concern, though. DC has shown vast improvements in both income and education metrics, too.

Next: The No. 1 most prosperous city in America offers plenty of opportunities

1. Odessa, Texas

Odessa Texas

A replica of Stonehenge in Odessa. The Texas city like its neighbor Midland, is thriving. | ablokhin/Getty Images

  • Biggest indicators of increased prosperity: Home Value (+91%) and Income (+38%)

If you want the greatest chance of success, head to Odessa Texas. What does it have that others don’t? For starters, a seriously low cost of living, a thriving economy, and the most successful amendment to poverty in recent years. The poverty rate improved by 36% and income a staggering 38%, due in large part to Odessa’s oil contributions.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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