You don’t have to empty your savings account to afford city living in America—at least not in these locations.
Urban areas offer a gateway to culture or a medley of activities, but they typically come with a high price tag. That’s why MONEY crunched the numbers to find big cities—those with a population of 300,000 or more—with the best of all worlds: attractions, iconic neighborhoods, a relatively low cost of living, and promising job growth.
Here are our top 10 picks for best big cities to live in. (See MONEY’s full 2018 ranking of the Best Places to Live in America.)
#2: RALEIGH, NC
Average Family Income: $82,021
Median Home Price: $263,000
Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 9.6%
Part of North Carolina’s tri-city university hub, called the Triangle, along with Durham and Chapel Hill, Raleigh is home to a relatively young, diverse, and educated population.
Like Austin, Raleigh is a hotspot for employment seekers: Moody’s Analytics projects the area’s jobs will grow 9.6% by 2022. Forbes this year ranked Raleigh among the top 10 cities for jobs, owing in part to its 17.25% job growth over the past five years. And people are listening: There’s been a 13% increase in population since 2010, according to MONEY’s Best Places to Live database.
Your wallet will feel the benefits too: With an average sales tax of about 7.25% and average property taxes at $2,632, the city’s cost of living is relatively low compared with our other big cities.
As the historically significant birthplace of Andrew Johnson, Raleigh is host to dozens of museums, earning it the nickname Smithsonian of the South. The North Carolina Museum of History reaches back 14,000 years into the state’s past, and at the massive North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, general admission is free.
There’s a strong sense of community as well. Every fall, the North Carolina State Fair draws 1 million visitors to Raleigh for a 10-day festival featuring rides, music, games, and crafts from local artists. Tickets cost about $10 for adults and $5 for children.
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