Who knew that some suburbs could be more expensive than a major city?
A good neighborhood can be hard to define, because “good” means different things to different people. Some might prefer peace and quiet, while others are looking for easy access to outdoor activities. However, as Trulia’s Live Well neighborhoods study shows, there’s a neighborhood for every taste. We ranked neighborhoods for universally loved features like quiet streets, great places to play, and proximity to care and essential amenities, and found the best of the best no matter what you’re looking for.
To make it easier to see yourself in one of these top-ranked neighborhoods, we did the math for you. First, we found a property for sale near the median sale price for each area, then we used Trulia’s mortgage calculator to determine the median mortgage costs. We used these figures to calculate the estimated salary needed to live in each neighborhood. You might be surprised that some of the best-ranked locals are surprisingly affordable, while the living wage for others is simply jaw-dropping.
The neighborhood: Sunset Hill, Seattle, WA
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $217,880
Living in Sunset Hill is a dream for Seattleites seeking peace and quiet and open space –and one of the more affordable dream neighborhoods in large city. A mainly residential area, the neighborhood has a bit of a small-town pace. There are sweeping views of Shilshole Bay from every block. Social life revolves around the many marinas along the shore, along with the picturesque Golden Gardens Park, where you can connect with neighbors over a drum circle (yes, really) or at the off-leash dog area. It’s all just blocks from this adorable traditional-style home at 3106 NW 75th St. Seattle, WA 98117. This three-bedroom charmer was built in 1939 and offers newly refinished hardwood floors. And believe it or not $749,000 is a bargain, considering the neighborhood’s median price of $850,000.
The neighborhood: Rogers Park, Chicago, IL
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $47,760
All the perks of city life are within reach in Rogers Park, where the median price for a home is an affordable $154,500. This neighborhood isn’t notable just for its low cost of living or its convenient location to both the Red and Green train lines (which take you into downtown) but also because of its thriving cultural scene. Whether you stroll up North Glenwood Avenue to catch a show at the Lifeline Theatre or over to North Sheridan Road to see an indie flick at The New 400 Theater, you can practically feel your horizons expanding. Even better? This one-bedroom condo at 1337 W. Albion Ave. #3E, Chicago, IL 60626 is a quick walk to either district, as well as the lake beaches bordering the neighborhood. At only $149,000, you’ll have spending money to enjoy everything the area has to offer.
The neighborhood: Central West End, St. Louis, MO
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $97,400
With its tree-lined streets and proximity to great shopping, it’s obvious why the Central West End neighborhood made our list. However, it’s a little tricky to put a price on the neighborhood, so for this one we drew upon citywide data for St. Louis, where the median price is $372,304. At $335,000, this one-bedroom condo at 9 N. Euclid Ave. #516, St. Louis, MO 63108 lets you take in the picturesque city streets through a wall of windows in the living room (which also features a marble gas fireplace). But the real benefit to this condo is its location one block from the beloved Forest Park, which houses the St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Municipal Theatre Association. You’ll definitely want to mark your calendar for September 15–16 for the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, when hundreds of balloons take to the sky for an Instagram-worthy sight.
The neighborhood: Manayunk, Philadelphia, PA
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $58,080
Philadelphia is often associated with history (found everywhere, but especially the Old City neighborhood) or the indelible image of Rocky running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But the less name-checked neighborhoods have personalities too — like Manayunk, which used to be a relatively sleepy higher-end commuter haven. In recent years, creative types have flocked here, perhaps attracted to a relatively affordable median price of $206,500 for a place to call their own. Interesting bars and restaurants followed, such as local favorite Deke’s Bar-B-Que, a retro-cool eatery with down-home cooking. It’s a mere half-block from this one-bedroom condo in the historic Feltworks building (374 Shurs Lane #301, Philadelphia, PA 19128), which comes in at $224,600. Like the building’s exterior, the interior boasts a rustic-refined style. It’s the kind of place where you can entertain with ease thanks to the open concept and loft. But when you want to hit the town, you’re a mere 10-minute walk to countless bars on Main Street, like the laid-back Manayunk Brewing Company.
The neighborhood: Nonantum, Newton, MA
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $226,866
Nonantum is the picture-perfect New England suburb, where gracious Colonial-style homes and great old trees dot the quiet streets. Since it’s a smaller neighborhood, we had to draw on citywide data for Newton, where the median price is a not-too-modest $867,000. Such a price is based on its proximity to Boston, MA, just 10 miles away via I-90. Although your commute takes only 30 minutes, the location (33 Jasset St., Newton, MA 02458) feels worlds away from the city. Nonantum offers parks galore, like peaceful Stearns Park right across the street. You could spend an afternoon playing Frisbee or roll out your bike and explore the Charles River Greenway (a half-mile away). You’ll also get the real perk of suburban life: a bit more for your $869,000 purchase, like high-end finishes, a gas fireplace, and a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops. It might just make climbing that corporate ladder worth it.
The neighborhood: Coral Gables, Miami, FL
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $193,466
A magnet for those seeking the luxurious life since its founding in 1925, Coral Gables has more than earned its nickname of “The City Beautiful.” The Mediterranean Revival architecture is accented by lush trees and beautiful gardens nearly everywhere you look. In a city where even the public pool (Venetian Pool) is a picturesque spot with waterfalls and lavish details, it’s hard to pick the crown jewel. However, it might be the historic Biltmore Hotel, situated on the renowned Biltmore golf course, which was once the place for Old Hollywood. Such a glamorous sight is a mere eight blocks from this secluded three-bedroom home at 1128 Castile Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134. Fittingly, the Mediterranean-style home is priced for the luxe market at $785,000 (and a few steps up from the area’s median price of $735,000), but you do get a boast-worthy location near the Granada Golf Course, not to mention a backyard that rivals a stunning public garden. And though the price is high, making it here might be easier thanks to the surprisingly strong hold Coral Gables has on businesses (there are over 140 multinational corporations here).
The neighborhood: Deer Park, Houston, TX
Annual salary needed to live here comfortably: $72,840
Although Houston’s a half-hour drive away, you might not have to commute far for a great job in Deer Park. This suburb beat out other Texas cities as the best place to start a small business in the state. While opportunity is big, so is the real estate you’ll find here. The median price of $239,954 gets you quite a bit, as seen in this gracious three-bedroom home at 4113 Graceland Drive, Deer Park, TX 77536. For $247,900, you’ll have features that would cost much more elsewhere, like custom kitchen cabinetry and a bay window in the master bedroom. From a trip to the historic Battleship Texas to the Dive-In Movies this summer at the nearby Dow Park Pool (a 5-minute drive away), you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spot for summer fun.
Methodology: To find out where the best Live Well neighborhoods are in America, Trulia analyzed the neighborhood amenities data on its site and created a ranking based on four metrics in three categories: quiet streets on Trulia (low-volume street segments), great places to play (open-street map trails and Yelp play-centric amenities), and care and essentials (health-care-related Yelp amenities). Our quiet streets data are generated from a proprietary algorithm that estimates traffic volumes on a given road segment based on how “central” that segment is relative to other roads in that neighborhood, and is classified into five levels of estimated traffic volume. We classify a quiet street as one that falls within the bottom quintile. Second, we use data from the “Active” and “Health Care” Yelp categories to find the location of play-centric and health-centric amenities, which include places and services such as playgrounds, golf courses, hospitals, and pediatricians. Last, we combine these to create a weighted average of each neighborhood’s ranking in each category. The weighting scheme is as follows: quiet streets (33%), great places to play (16.5% trails and 16.5% play-centric), and care and essentials (33%). The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best scoring and 0 being the worst. This is a selection of top neighborhoods from the list; median sales price, average listing price, and mortgage data were compiled May 9, 2017.