The top 5 most prosperous cities in the US

The income you need to afford a home in the biggest U.S. cities

When it comes to naming the best city in the United States, everyone has their own opinion and their own way to measure. "Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers," says real estate website RENTCafé. So it set out to come up with its own metric for which US cities have improved most, since a city has to be "capable of progress," it says, "to be considered attractive in the long run."

To qualify what makes a city increasingly prosperous, RENTCafé looked at six indicators in cities with populations exceeding 100,000 to see how they've improved "between 2000 and 2016, according to U.S. Census data, and single out the ones that have made the most progress overall."

The indicators include shifts in median income, home values and the share of residents with higher-education, as well as changes in population, poverty and unemployment rate. The final ranking is based on the combined value of the individual ranks of the six main fields.

Based on that data, here are the top 5 most prosperous U.S. cities:

Odessa, Texas

Population change: 25 percent
Income change: 38 percent
Home value change: 91 percent
Higher education change: 26 percent
Poverty rate change: -36 percent
Unemployment rate change: -24 percent

Washington, D.C.

Population change: 15 percent
Income change: 30 percent
Home value change: 135 percent
Higher education change: 42 percent
Poverty rate change: -11 percent
Unemployment rate change: -19 percent

Charleston, South Carolina

Population change: 35 percent
Income change: 16 percent
Home value change: 39 percent
Higher education change: 34 percent
Poverty rate change: -15 percent
Unemployment rate change: -10 percent

Fontana, California

Population change: 60 percent
Income change: 3 percent
Home value change: 60 percent
Higher education change: 57 percent
Poverty rate change: 3 percent
Unemployment rate change: 18 percent

North Charleston, South Carolina

Population change: 34 percent
Income change: -3 percent
Home value change: 59 percent
Higher education change: 53 percent
Poverty rate change: -2 percent
Unemployment rate change: -1 percent

Professionals in these cities take home the most money after rent and taxes

Keep in mind, says RENTCafé, "not all indicators need to show improvements for a city to be prosperous." The ranking is based on overall improvement. "The same is true for big improvements in one indicator. If you isolate one indicator and look at the best performers, you'll find cities near the top that have a low overall prosperity ranking."

If you're thinking of moving to a new city or just want to see how prosperous your hometown is, check out RENTCafé's full list. And check out the top 10 cities where your paycheck can go the furthest.

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