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The 10 most livable (and affordable) mid-sized cities of 2019

Getty | Petri Oeschger

With living costs on the rise in the U.S., settling down in a major city — where you often need to make around six figures in order to live comfortably — can feel like an unattainable goal for some.

If you prefer city living but care about cutting costs, there is some good news: In the U.S., several mid-sized cities are also highly livable, meaning they're more affordable than larger, metropolitan areas (since cost of living tends to correlate with population size), but still offer many amenities.

Personal finance website SmartAsset identified the most livable mid-sized cities in the U.S. so far this year by looking at a number of economic factors, including median household income, unemployment rate, average commute time, poverty rate, changes in median home value, median monthly housing costs and level of income inequality. Each city's rank depends on how far your dollar can go as a resident.

SmartAsset used data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 and 2018 1-year American Community Surveys to determine changes in median home value and the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 1-year American Community Survey for everything else. To be deemed "mid-sized," a city must have had a population above 100,000 in 2018, excluding the 100 largest cities in the country. In total, 226 places made the list. 

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These are the top 10 most livable mid-sized U.S. cities, according to SmartAsset.

10. Frisco, Texas

  • Median household income: $131,989
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 49%
  • Poverty rate: 2.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $2,004

9. Overland Park, Kansas

  • Median household income: $83,717
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 25%
  • Poverty rate: 3.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,261

8. Meridian, Idaho

  • Median household income: $77,359
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 54%
  • Poverty rate: 6.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,225

7. Cary, North Carolina

  • Median household income: $102,172
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 25%
  • Poverty rate: 5.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,436
A view of downtown Rochester, Minnesota.
Getty | Stephen Maturen / Stringer

6. Rochester, Minnesota

  • Median household income: $70,094
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 33%
  • Poverty rate: 7.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,122

5. Thornton, Colorado

  • Median household income: $74,690
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 66%
  • Poverty rate: 6.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,492

4. Highlands Ranch, Colorado

  • Median household income: $124,795
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 33%
  • Poverty rate: 1.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $2,021

3. Westminster, Colorado

  • Median household income: $71,626
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 60%
  • Poverty rate: 5.5%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,441

2. Centennial, Colorado

  • Median household income: $110,443
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 39%
  • Poverty rate: 3.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,740
Olde Town Arvada (also known as downtown Arvada) in Arvada, Colorado on March 8, 2016.
Getty | Katie Wood / Contributor

1. Arvada, Colorado

  • Median household income: $87,955
  • Change in median home value from 2014 through 2018: 63%
  • Poverty rate: 4.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,438

Interestingly, the top five cities on the list are located not only in Colorado, but within the greater Denver metro area, which shows the role location plays in overall livability. In Arvada, Colorado, the No. 1 city on the list, factors such as a strong job market and livable wages help boost its level of livability. In Centennial, Colorado, the city's low levels of poverty, low unemployment rate and small population living without healthcare helped drive it toward the top of the list.

Other locations in the top 10 had similar positive attributes. In Westminster, Colorado, the third-highest ranked mid-sized city, the median home value grew 60% in five years. It also boasts low poverty and unemployment rates. Highlands Ranch, Colorado, No. 4 on the list, has a healthy median household income and low income inequality when compared to other mid-sized locations, indicating the financial stability of its residents. 

If affordability is your primary concern when deciding where to settle down, check out these resources as well:

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