With the economic recovery yet to gain speed, affordable living has become an important consideration for many Americans. Areas that are not only within means, but also safe and close to a steady job market are becoming more attractive to cost-conscious consumers. Bloomberg Rankings analyzed data on more than 3,000 counties nationwide to select the best affordable place in each state. Metrics such as income, housing expenditure, commute time, educational attainment, ethnic diversity, air quality, unemployment, poverty, and crime were evaluated. The resulting ranking aims not to single out communities with high-end homes or luxurious living, but to focus instead on desirable places that offer a good quality of life and are affordable to people who earn the area's median income. (As quality of life is highly localized, many counties cover a range of neighborhoods, both affordable and expensive.) This list of best places ranges from large urban areas such as Arizona's Maricopa County to sparsely populated suburban and rural counties such as York County in Nebraska. After all, nice places can come in all sizes.
*Ranking completed by Bloomberg Rankings