Where is the most livable city in the U.S.? Is it by sun-soaked beaches, near majestic mountains, or smack-dab in the middle of the country where temperatures fall into single digits in winter and snow piles up by the foot?
If you guessed beaches or mountains, a recent ranking of the most livable small cities in the U.S. may surprise you.
SLIDESHOW: The 25 Most Livable Cities in the US:
An annual study from Livability, a marketing company that helps cities attract residents and businesses, finds that Rochester, Minnesota, is the most livable small city in the U.S. The top 25 cities are located in just 13 states, with California having the most at five, followed by Colorado (4) and Washington (3). Only two cities are located on the East Coast — one each in Maryland and Virginia — while 14 are along the West Coast.
Of the top 25, only nine had populations over 100,000, while three came in under 50,000. The average population among the 25 cities is 91,574. The median household income among them is $65,149, with only one city recording median income over $100,000. The median price of a home for all 25 is $373,756.
Other characteristics found among the 25 top cities include strong local economies with big employers, the existence of major universities or other research institutions, and dynamic downtowns that provide residents with an array of dining, shopping and cultural experiences. Beautiful outdoors and recreational activities also popped up frequently.
Livability ranked 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000 to come up with its top 100 places to live in its third annual ranking. It considered more than 40 data points in eight categories: amenities, demographics, economy, education, health care, housing, social and civil capital and transportation and infrastructure.
Clear here for the 25 most livable cities in the U.S. in 2016.