It might seem an odd time in the middle of a global health pandemic to release a list of the best places to live, but for the past seven years, Livability.com has released a data-driven list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America and 2020 was certainly not going to be the exception.
Every year, the list changes: we do surveys and studies, adjust our algorithm, add in new variables and data points, and celebrate a new #1 city. This year, the whole world changed. In 2020, many of the things that used to be a given about where and how we live suddenly became open-ended questions:
What if you could work remotely and live anywhere? What if paying thousands of dollars a month to live in a big, expensive city wasn’t worth it anymore? What if the things that have always mattered — affordability, opportunity, safety, community — mattered more than ever?
Right now, millions of people are reevaluating where they want to live. If you’re one of them, this list is for you. We analyzed more than 1,000 small to mid-sized cities on factors like safety, affordability, economic stability, outdoor recreation, accessibility and community engagement. This year’s list was also informed by a new metric: an “opportunity score” we used to determine each city’s landscape of opportunity, including variables like job numbers, broadband access, economic resilience and growth.
Fargo: #8 Best Place to Live
It’s no secret that Fargo is thriving. This tight-knit community in eastern North Dakota, often mentioned alongside its sister city, Moorhead, MN, has it all — an affordable cost of living, a vibrant economy and a family-friendly vibe running through everything in town. Unemployment is low and jobs are plentiful in fields like education, technology, manufacturing and healthcare. Plus, it never feels crowded in Fargo, thanks to an abundance of parks and green space.
Top Industries and Employers: Healthcare, education and manufacturing. Plus, agricultural and food processing facilities.
Best Coffee Shop: Young Blood Coffee
Best Local Beer/Brewery: Drekker Brewing Company, which is located inside a renovated railroad shop that dates back to 1883.
Must-Have Meal: Bison meatballs from Maxwell’s Restaurant & Bar
Best Co-Working Space: The Prairie Den, located inside a historic bank building in downtown Fargo.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Mezzaluna, an upscale restaurant inside a renovated 1917 warehouse where locals go for awesome happy hour deals.
Creative Hub: Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre, a community hub for all things theatre, including talent shows, murder mystery dinner shows, fundraisers, classes and workshops.
Favorite Weekend Activity: If they’re not tailgating for North Dakota State University football games, Fargo residents are either bicycling the more than 200 miles of trails in the region or kayaking on the Red River.
Local Dream Job: It gets cold in Fargo. Really cold. So the folks here decided to start a festival called Frostival, which celebrates all things chilly, icy, snowy and frozen. Who wouldn’t want to be in charge of something so cool? (Pun intended!)
Bismarck: #14 Best Place to Live
People are flocking to Bismarck, the capital city of North Dakota, thanks to its low cost of living, low unemployment rate and family-friendly amenities. The city, home to roughly 73,000 residents, is expected to continue to grow as more and more people seek out this vibrant community with a friendly, hard-working attitude. It’s got state-of-the-art healthcare offerings, very little crime, great schools and tons of art, history and recreation options.
Top Industries and Employers: Healthcare, education and government
Best Coffee Shop: Grab a lavender latte at Terra Nomad, which also offers mouth-watering pastries and brunch dishes like “Sloppy Scones,” made with a cheddar scone, two eggs, gravy, bacon bits and scallions.
Best Local Beer/Brewery: Laughing Sun Brewing Co.
Must-Have Meal: A pizza followed by gelato from Fireflour Pizza
Best Co-Working Space: Juniper Workantile, which offers day passes for just $10 and is conveniently located right downtown.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Blarney Stone Pub, a cozy spot with delicious Irish fare and great happy hour deals.
Creative Hub: Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative, which offers exhibits and art classes for all ages.
Favorite Weekend Activity: Hiking, biking, camping, fishing or riding horses at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, the oldest state park in North Dakota.
Free Way to Have Fun: Exploring the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, which offers free admission and has tons of interesting exhibits about North Dakota history, art, birds and more.
Local Dream Job: Fishing guide, so you can spend as much time as possible on the Missouri River.