Best Cities to Live, Work and Play

Kiplinger

These ten great places will only get better.

Our approach this year to picking the ten best cities in which to live and work was simple: Look for places with strong economies and abundant jobs, then demand reasonable living costs and plenty of fun things to do. When we ran the numbers, some of the names that popped up made us do a double take at first. So we hit the road to meet movers, shakers and regular folks, experience the ambience and take in the sights.

More from Kiplinger.com:

Top Ten Best Cities at a Glance

Which City Is Best for You?

Take Virtual Tours of Our Top Ten Best Cities

We discovered that our numbers guru, Kevin Stolarick, hadn't steered us wrong. Stolarick, research director at the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity, says: "Our formula highlights cities not just with strong past performance, but also with all the ingredients for future success." One key to a bright future is a healthy shot of people in the creative class. People in creative fields -- scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists and entertainers -- are catalysts of vitality and livability in a city.

The cities that made our list also represent larger surrounding areas. And because we understand that city living isn't for everyone, we've highlighted some great suburbs, too.

Pack a bag and join us on a tour of the Best Cities for 2008 and prepare for some surprises.

1. Houston

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Houston-story-pic.jpg

Population: 5,542,048

Population Growth Since 2000: 14.9%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 31.3%

Cost-of-Living Index: 88.1 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $50,250

Income Growth Since 2000: 13.1%

2. Raleigh

Population: 995,662

Population Growth Since 2000: 19.9%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 36.1%

Cost-of-Living Index: 99 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $56,150

Income Growth Since 2000: 10.3%

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Omaha-story-pic.jpg

3. Omaha

Population: 821,356

Population Growth Since 2000: 6.6%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 30%

Cost-of-Living Index: 89.4 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $51,627

Income Growth Since 2000: 15.1%

4. Boise

Population: 568,086

Population Growth Since 2000: 18.2%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 33.2%

Cost-of-Living Index: 95.5 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $49,833

Income Growth Since 2000: 16.6%

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Colorado-Springs-story-pic.jpg

5. Colorado Springs

Population: 600,444

Population Growth Since 2000: 10.5%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 34.1%

Cost-of-Living Index: 95.3 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income Since 2000: 53,486

Income Growth Since 2000: 16.1%

6. Austin

Population: 1,506,425

Population Growth Since 2000: 17%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 36.5%

Cost-of-Living Index: 92.8 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $52,882

Income Growth Since 2000: 12.2%

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Fayetteville-story-pic.jpg

7. Fayetteville

Population: 419,455

Population Growth Since 2000: 17.3%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 31.4%

Cost-of-Living Index: 90.4 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $42,267

Income Growth Since 2000: 17.6%

8. Sacramento

Population: 2,067,117

Population Growth Since 2000: 13.1%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 34%

Cost-of-Living Index: 121.7 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $56,953

Income Growth Since 2000: 19.1%

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Des-Moines-story-pic.jpg

9. Des Moines

Population: 532,425

Population Growth Since 2000: 9.6%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 32.1%

Cost-of-Living Index: 90.6 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $53,384

Income Growth Since 2000: 16.3%

10. Provo

Population: 474,351

Population Growth Since 2000: 20.6%

Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 32%

Cost-of-Living Index: 97.7 (100 being national average)

Median Household Income: $50,583

Income Growth Since 2000: 12.2%

For more places, tools and walking tours, visit Kiplinger.com's Best Cities Center.

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