Top Cities for global trade
Population: 463,878 | Unemployment: 5.3 percent | Median Home Price: $200,900
Atlanta has reasserted itself as a destination for professionals—its population grew 10 percent in the past five years—as the international hub offers the opportunity to work for top corporate players such as Coca-Cola, Delta and UPS, as well as hip outfits like Williams Street (creator of Adult Swim). It’s a rare major city where the cost of living is nearly 2 percent lower than the national average. Besides myriad cultural outlets and scenester magnets, there are quality of life developments such as the BeltLine, a railway track transformed into a beautiful park/path for cyclists, pedestrians and anyone who enjoys being outside.
Population: 298,550 | Unemployment: 4.4 percent | Median Home Price: $120,400
Cincinnati living costs are 8 percent below the national average and the city enjoys more than 100 parks and green spaces. It is one of only a few U.S. cities with professional companies in all the performing arts: ballet, opera, symphony, theater and awesome, awesome chili. Major employers such as Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Duke Energy and American Financial Corp. are fed by a wealth of local talent drawn from nearly two-dozen colleges and universities led by the University of Cincinnati, a public research facility with more than 44,000 students.
DES MOINES, IOWA
Population: 210,330 | Unemployment: 3.8 percent | Median Home Price: $118,200
While some cities on this list must wonder how they will handle the onslaught of new residents—think Portland and Rochester—Des Moines has the opposite issue. Despite two major universities, robust job growth of more than 4 percent and a cost of living that’s more than 6 percent below the national average, many outsiders still seem clueless about this great city, which has resulted in relatively modest population gains. People! Unemployment dipped below 3 percent a few months ago. What’s more—or less—Des Moines has the shortest morning commutes in the country.
Population: 256,927 | Unemployment: 4.4 percent | Median Home Price: $643,200
Irvine has one of the highest median household income averages in the country—around $100,000—and you’ll need it to buy a home. What you get for the money is one of the nation’s elite public school systems, an elite public university (University of California at Irvine) and one of the nation’s safest cities. There’s access to top-notch employers, many with headquarters in town, including Fortune 500 outfits Allergan, Western Digital, Spectrum Group and Broadcom. Apparently those benefits have been well worth the price: Irvine’s population since 2000 has nearly doubled (143,072 to 256,927 people).
Population: 868,031 | Unemployment: 4.7 percent | Median Home Price: $129,700
You may be surprised to find out that Jacksonville—and not Miami—is Florida’s largest city, having added another 150,000 residents this century. They are attracted by a low cost of living (2 percent below the national average), inexpensive housing (14 percent below the national average) and the high possibility of getting jobs. The city was ranked by Forbes as fifth best in the nation for finding work, particularly in logistics and industrial jobs. You might also hook up with one of the four Fortune 500 companies headquartered in town: CSX Corp., Fidelity National Financial, Fidelity National Information Services and Southeastern Grocers.
Population: 248,951 | Unemployment: 3.4 percent | Median Home Price: $214,100
Madison is pretty much the poster city for the new-type tech hub desirable to young professionals, especially those with families. Like other similar communities (think Provo and Durham), Madison boasts a top-notch university—Go Badgers!—that in turn helps with the availability of STEM employment. In fact, Madison’s economy—having evolved from heavily government-based to a consumer services and high-tech base, particularly in the health, biotech and advertising sectors—ranked third in the growth of STEM jobs between 2001 and 2014, behind, hello, Provo and Durham.
Population: 16,306 | Unemployment: 6.2 percent | Median Home Price: $176,800
The canned pumpkin capital of the world—yes, there is one and Morton produces more than 80 percent of the stuff—is centrally located in Illinois, near enough to bigger cities such as Peoria and Bloomington to benefit from proximity to the headquarters of State Farm and Caterpillar. From 1999 to 2013, the city experienced an amazing 58 percent growth in median income. At home, Morton residents enjoy great schools and low housing costs, as only 20 percent of residents’ median monthly income goes toward such expenses.
Population: 632,309 | Unemployment: 5.1 percent | Median Home Price: $291,400
The good news for Portland residents is that they hang their hat in one of the most livable, loveable, culturally diverse and proudly weird parts of the country. The bad news is everyone else knows it now (Thanks, Portlandia!). More than 100,000 people have flocked to the city over the past 15 years, many of them tech workers unable to keep up with Silicon Valley’s high prices. They find plenty of buyers for their services in Portland, where big-name companies like Salesforce, eBay and Airbnb have opened offices and joined startups like Tilde, Simple and Sprintly.
Population: 112,225 | Unemployment: 3.3 percent | Median Home Price: $163,700
The Mayo Clinic medical campus, beneficiary of $6 billion in development from public and private sources, will expand significantly over the next 20 years, its destination medical center projected to lead to 40,000 new jobs. The University of Minnesota is looking to expand its satellite campus, bringing more jobs and young people who need places to live, drink and go on ill-considered Tinder dates. Rochester is especially friendly to women since their median earnings are 92 percent of men’s here, about 80 percent the national average.
Population: 639,242 | Unemployment: 5.4 percent | Median Home Price: $121,300
The city that once billed itself as “The Oil Capital of the World” has diversified economically so that there are significant numbers of jobs available in aerospace, finance, technology and manufacturing. In fact, the city’s largest employer is an American Airlines maintenance base, the largest such facility in the world. Because of its ability to remake itself, Tulsa, which offers a cost of living 4 percent lower than the national average and is home to two world-renowned art museums, has been mentioned on numerous lists as a city of the future.
Top cities for global trade