The 15 Best-Run Cities in America
We'll help you decide where to go, but you have to pack the boxes.
It takes a significant amount of planning and research to move, so it’s no surprise that only 11.6 percent of Americans chose to do so between 2014 and 2015.
Settling on a new location gets especially complicated when you factor in local government. The decisions that city officials are responsible for, such as services, taxes and budget cuts, can greatly influence the quality of life in a given place.
Don’t worry, though. Financial advising site WalletHub has done the heavy-lifting for you. (Well, the research, that is. You’re on your own with those boxes.) To determine America’s best-run cities, WalletHub examined 150 of the country's largest metropolises, comparing factors including financial stability, education, health, safety, economy and infrastructure and pollution against total per-capita budgets.Here are the 15 U.S. cities that best serve their public interests and needs. Now start packing.
WalletHub included two New Mexico cities in its best-run analysis, and both of them made the top 15.Albuquerque has the 10th-highest budget per capita of the 150 cities ranked. This fact puts it in 29th place in the financial stability sub-ranking. The city also performs well in the infrastructure and pollution subcategory, coming in 55th.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Huntington Beach is 14th in the best-run cities ranking, but in terms of its overall city services, the oceanside town comes in third out of 150.
Its education, safety and health services are particularly stellar: Huntington Beach ranks first, sixth and eighth in these respective subcategories. It’s also tied with Anaheim, Calif., for having the second-highest high-school graduation rate. (Frederick, Md., tops that list.)
Maine’s second-largest city falls 13th in WalletHub’s ranking of best-run U.S. cities, and coincidentally, it also has the 13th-highest budget per capita.
In overall city services, Lewiston ranks 59th. It’s the 28th-safest city on the list, based on its safety services. In the infrastructure and pollution subcategory, it performs extremely well, sitting in second place among 150 cities.
Las Cruces, N.M.
Las Cruces, N.M., located about 50 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas, takes the 12th-place spot in the best-run cities ranking.
Although it ranks 12th overall, it has the 11th-highest budget per capita among the 150 cities analyzed, and it comes in 21st in the financial stability subcategory. Las Cruces is 48th in the overall city services rank, and it performs best in health services, sitting in 56th out of 150.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
OKC is 11th on the best-run cities list, primarily due to its financial stability. In the overall city services ranking, it sits in 81st.
Oklahoma City has the eighth-highest total budget per capita of the cities analyzed. Its education services benefit from these abundant funds, coming in 13th out of 150. However, it ranks lower than any other city, in 150th place, for infrastructure and pollution.
Nashua is 10th on the list for best-run cities, thanks to its economy, safety and financial stability.
Nashua ranks 11th (out of 150 cities studied) in overall city services, though it struggles with infrastructure and pollution, ranking 114th in that subcategory. But the city makes up for it with its robust economy, which ranks eighth.Nashua also falls 14th in budget per capita.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls, comes in ninth on the list of best-run cities thanks to its exceptional city services.
Related: The 10 Best Cities to Flip HousesSioux ranks fifth for both health services and economy. It also ranks eighth for infrastructure and pollution and 16th for overall budget per capita.
Bismarck is the eighth-best-run city in America, but it takes the top spot for services provided. Most notable are the health and economy services subcategories, in both of which the city falls third. It’s also 11th for infrastructure and pollution services and eighth for safety.Bismarck is tied for the lowest unemployment rate and falls 19th for total budget per capita.
Billings, on the Yellowstone River, is the seventh-best-run city in the U.S. It falls 23rd (out of 150 cities) in overall services and is financially strong. The city ranks 18th for financial stability and 13th in the economy subcategory.
Billings also sits in seventh place for total budget per capita.
Lexington, known as the Horse Capital of the World, comes in 27th for overall city services with particular strengths in health and education, ranking 11th and 12th respectively.In addition to its number-six spot on the best-run cities list, Lexington has the sixth-highest budget per capita of the 150 cities that WalletHub studied.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Fort Wayne falls fifth on the list. It leads because of its education services, ranking 14th in that subcategory, but it falls short in health services, which are ranked 133rd among 150 cities. Overall, Fort Wayne comes in 32nd for its city services.Fort Wayne also has a high budget per capita, falling just behind Missoula, Mont., in fifth.
Missoula comes in at number four in the best-run ranking. It falls 28th in overall city services with particular strengths in infrastructure and pollution, economy and education. Its education services, especially, are thriving -- the city ranks sixth (out of 150) in that subcategory.
Missoula also shines because it has the fourth-highest total budget per capita.
Provo comes in as the third-best-run city, and it is also listed by Livability as a top-100 place to live.The city ranks ninth in overall services, providing financial stability, education and safety and ranking 10th in all three subcategories. It sits in third for total budget per capita.
Idaho takes the top two spots for city operations. Its second-largest city, Nampa, comes in right behind its capital, Boise.Nampa ranks 58th (out of 150) in overall city services, with particular strengths in financial stability and safety, placing 30th and 38th respectively. While Nampa’s city services fall lower than those of other top-15 cities -- its health services rank 141st -- Nampa tops the list for total budget per capita.
Boise ranks second in both overall city services and total budget per capita. The combined excellence in both categories makes Boise the best-run American city, according to WalletHub.The capital of Idaho, the most populous city in the state, is named by Livability as a top-100 place to live and a top-50 place to live for entrepreneurs. Boise has the second-lowest long-term debt per capita, and it is the third-safest and sixth-most financially stable city.