The top 10 places to live in 2012 are mostly white, with populations in some of the communities as high as 85 percent white, according to a demographic analysis by the National Journal. The annual list, released by CNN Money, ranked U.S. cities according to a variety of factors including household income, quality of schools, crime rates, and likelihood of employment.
The population of Hispanics or Latinos — which the census data tracks separately from race — ranged from as low as 2.6 percent to as high as 19.2 percent.
The list also calculated the racial diversity index, a statistical calculation of the likelihood of one resident of one race running into another of a different race, and found a wide range for the top 10, varying from 57.8 to as high as 303. The national average was 100; the average for the top 100 cities was 118.4. Among the top 10, Irvine, Calif., has the most diverse index at 303. It boasts a 46.7 percent minority population, with 9.5 percent of residents identifying as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.
The No. 1 spot went to Carmel, Ind., population 80,100, which was cited for its transformation from a quiet suburb to the go-to spot for both families and businesses with quality education, recreation, and housing options. Carmel's unemployment rate was nearly half of the overall national average, with jobs growing 26.44 percent between 2000 and 2011.
Click on the markers to display the city's demographic breakdown.
It's not surprising that a trend emerges for these top-rated cities: Most boast high family income — an average of $96,825 — as well as good schools with high test scores and low crime rates.
What remains to be seen is how to transfer the success of such places to others. Some states, such as California, Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia, saw as many as five of its cities in the overall top 100 list. Other states, including Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alaska saw none.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.