By Lilly Rose via CBSNews
What's America's best place to live?
A ranking from the survey company Niche.com suggests that American's top choices aren't necessarily the best-known.
For the creation of this ranking, Niche researchers factored in good public schools, affordable costs of living, low crime rates and the overall satisfaction of their residents, culling data from the U.S. Department of Education, the Census Bureau, the FBI and public-sentiment polling.
Niche also considered local commutes (length and access to public transport); diversity (of age, gender and ethnicity); health and fitness of its residents (based on rates of smoking, alcohol abuse, and obesity as well as access to healthcare and fitness centers); jobs (including employment rates, career and business growth) and housing costs (based on home values, property taxes and ownership rates).
For the purpose of this ranking, we're only looking at major cities — places with populations above 100,000.
50. Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah's capital city ranks highly for its family-friendly atmosphere, thanks in part to its well-liked public schools. Salt Lake City also offers a buzzing nightlife, including many restaurants and bars.
The area is also home to the NBA's Utah Jazz and a "Real Housewives" franchise.
49. Columbia, South Carolina
The mix of urban and suburban life is what attracts people to Columbia. The community is home to quaint neighborhoods and popular attractions such as the Riverbanks Zoo and the South Carolina State Museum.
The city's nightlife also get top marks, likely due to the University of South Carolina's diverse student body, which spends evenings at the city's bars and restaurants.
48. Fort Collins, Colorado
The family-friendly Colorado city gets top marks for its cost of living, including housing prices.
The mountainous area ranks highly for outdoor activities. Residents enjoy Fort Collins' many hiking and biking trails, as well as canoeing.
47. Charleston, South Carolina
With its balmy weather and proximity to the beach, the coastal city ranks highly for its residents' health and fitness and for the city's plethora of outdoor activities.
The area is also home to some great eats. Charleston attracts chefs and foodies eager for a taste of the region's traditional "Low Country" cuisine.
46. Tempe, Arizona
The desert city has tons of school pride, and much of the city's nightlife is centered around it.
Arizona State students and its grads frequent Tempe's bars, restaurants, theaters and sports games.
45. Pasadena, California
The Southern California city gets a high score for its commute to and from its surrounding areas, including Los Angeles.
The diverse area is home to some highly ranked public schools. Its sunny weather and access to parks and outdoor activities makes Pasadena one of the healthiest cities in the country.
44. St. Paul, Minnesota
Don't be deterred by the weather. St. Paul has a lot to offer besides freezing temps.
The city's rent prices and high employment rate attract many young professionals to the area.
St. Paul's diverse population has created a burgeoning arts and culture scene. The city also boasts some stunning architecture, as seen here inside the Minnesota State Capitol.
43. St. Petersburg, Florida
This city is a quick 15-minute commute from Tampa, but feels like its own tropical paradise.
St. Petersburg gets top marks for its outdoor activities and weather. The sunny city is home to sandy beaches and plenty of ocean activities such as boating, fishing and surfing.
42. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta ranks highly for its diversity. The area's bustling job market attracts people in the tech, food and entertainment industries.
The capital city is known as the Hollywood of the South. Many TV shows and movies have been filmed there, including "The Walking Dead," "Avengers: Infinity War," a "Real Housewives" franchise and a few Netflix originals.
41. Irving, Texas
This Texas city gets top marks for its outdoor activities and the health and fitness of its residents.
The area offers a large number of public and private green spaces. Gardening and golfing are popular activities among residents.
40. Tampa, Florida
Tampa is family-friendly and offers good public schools, affordable housing and entertainment destinations such as Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium and Tropicana Field.
Tampa also offers a bustling night life, thanks to its wide array of bars and restaurants.
39. Boston, Massachusetts
This historic city is home to such schools as Boston University, Emerson College and the Berklee College of Music. Due to its high number of job-seeking students and recent grads, Boston is also one of the best cities for young professionals in America.
Beantown is home to many restaurants, bars, shops and historic monuments.
38. Gainesville, Florida
The mix of urban and suburban life in Gainesville is a hit with families and young professionals. The Florida city has good public schools, an affordable cost of living and a lot to do when it comes to night life and outdoor activities.
The city is also home to the Gatornationals, an annual National Hot Rod Association drag racing event.
37. Lexington, Kentucky
This is another highly rated location for families thanks to its good public schools, low rents and high employment rate.
The city is home to Kentucky Horse Park. The park is not only an international equestrian competition venue; it is also an educational theme park that attracts visitors to Lexington every year.
36. Washington, D.C.
The U.S. capital is one of the best places for young professionals due to its employment rates, job and business growth, nightlife and cost of living.
The political hotbed of America is also home to many historic museums and monuments, and has outdoor activities such as farmers markets and music festivals.
35. Carlsbad, California
Thanks to its year-round warm weather and close proximity to the ocean, this coastal city ranks highly for its outdoor activities and the health and fitness of its residents.
Family-friendly Carlsbad is also the home of Legoland California.
34. Charlotte, North Carolina
Good public schools, affordable rent prices and a high employment rate attract residents to this North Carolina city.
Charlotte is also one of the most diverse cities in America.
33. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln is one of the best places to live in 2021.
The capital city with a small-town feel ranks highly for its outdoor activities and nightlife. That includes attending a Nebraska Cornhuskers game at Memorial Stadium, or taking advantage of the many restaurants and bars in the area.
32. Omaha, Nebraska
Nebraska's biggest city is one of the best cities to buy a house in America. It also ranks highly for its access to good public schools, for its high employment rate and its access to outdoor activities and attractions.
Omaha is also ranked as the No. 1 place to live in the Cornhusker State.
31. Huntsville, Alabama
This city gets top marks for being family-friendly thanks to its good public schools, wealth of outdoor activities and affordable living costs.
A major Huntsville attraction is the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where visitors can see replicas of rockets and learn about outer space.
30. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The western Pennsylvania city ranks highly as a place for young professionals to plant roots. The diverse city has affordable rents, a buzzing nightlife and many outdoor activities centered around the city's various sports teams.
Pittsburghers can often be found enjoying Pirates games at PNC Park or watching the Steelers make tackles at Heinz Field.
29. Round Rock, Texas
Round Rock's weather, public schools and high employment rate and job and business growth make it one of the best places to live in America.
The densely suburban city with quaint local businesses is about 20 miles north of Austin.
28. Rochester, Minnesota
The family-friendly city has highly rated public schools and parks, as well as a high employment rate. The local Mayo Clinic provides many job opportunities for people in the area.
Rochester is one of the best cities to buy a house in the country.
27. Scottsdale, Arizona
The wealthy desert city is the best place to retire in the country. Almost 25% of Scottsdale residents are age 65 or older.
The area offers tons of shopping, restaurants, hiking trails and mild winter temperatures.
26. Austin, Texas
The diverse city attracts young families looking for good public schools, job and business growth, and plentiful outdoor activities. Austin is home to many restaurants, bars and large green spaces such as Zilker Park, a popular spot for picnicking and swimming.
Austin is also a cultural hub. The city is home to a variety of music and film festivals, including Austin City Limits and South by Southwest.
25. Columbia, Missouri
The college town has a lot to offer young professionals and families. Home to the University of Missouri, it gets top marks for its cost of living, housing prices and job market centered around academics and healthcare.
Columbia also gets high marks for its nightlife.
24. College Station, Texas
College Station is home to Texas A&M University and some of the best public high schools in the country.
The diverse city ranks highly for its outdoor activities and the health and fitness of its residents. Lick Creek Park is a popular spot for walking and biking.
23. Santa Clara, California
The family-friendly Silicon Valley community boasts year-round good weather, a plethora of outdoor activities, tons of public parks and good public schools.
Due to its location, many residents have careers in the tech industry.
22. Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, a top spot for young professionals, ranks highly for its easy commute. The city is only about 20 minutes away from the hubs of Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia.
The area is known for the preserved historic buildings linings the streets of Alexandria's Old Town.
21. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is a top spot for young professionals and families, thanks to its cost of living, high employment rate, good public schools and plentiful outdoor activities.
The city is home to many lakes, parks and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which features eye-catching art pieces including the Spoonbridge and Cherry (pictured).
20. Torrance, California
Torrance is one of the healthiest cities in America. The city is a short drive from beach, and the area is home to many public parks and outdoor activities.
Torrance is also commuter-friendly. It's close to the affluent areas of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, and about 30 minutes away from downtown Los Angeles.
19. Sandy Springs, Georgia
This Atlanta suburb has no shortage of outdoor activities and public green spaces.
Sandy Springs, which is highly rated for residents' health and fitness, offers access to parks such as the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The location is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, river rafting and outdoor sports.
18. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder ranks highly for its outdoor activities and the health and fitness of its residents. Its Rocky Mountains location makes it a great spot for hiking and mountain climbing.
It is also the home of the University of Colorado, Boulder. The city gets top marks for its nightlife, some of which revolves around students and college sports teams, such as the Colorado Buffaloes.
17. Raleigh, North Carolina
The City of Oaks is an excellent spot for families thanks to its highly rated public schools, employment rate and affordable cost of living.
Raleigh is home to art and science museums, many outdoor activities and a bustling nightlife.
16. Sunnyvale, California
Sunnyvale gets top marks for its outdoor activities and for the health and fitness of its residents. Its Northern California location is coveted for its mild to warm temperatures.
The Silicon Valley city neighbors another best place to live, Santa Clara.
15. San Francisco, California
The Golden City ranks as the No. 2 best city for young professionals in the country.
With its many hills, large recreational green spaces and high level of walkability, it's also the third healthiest place to live.
14. Madison, Wisconsin
The bustling Wisconsin capital city is a good spot for families and young professionals.
Its urban-suburban mix includes good public schools, affordable housing, plenty of outdoor activities and a nightlife largely centered around the students and grads of University of Wisconsin-Madison.
13. Seattle, Washington
The Emerald City ranks as the No.1 best city for outdoor activities in the country.
Seattle is a great place for not only sightseers (think the Space Needle and Pike Place Market) but also nature-lovers who want to go hiking, biking and kayaking without having to travel too far away.
12. Richardson, Texas
The diverse city is family-friendly and has good schools and many community-based outdoor activities.
One such event is the city's annual dog festival. Richardson residents dress their dogs in costumes to compete and celebrate.
11. Irvine, California
The family-oriented city is highly rated for its year-round warm weather and access to outdoor activities including beaches, parks and community events.
Irvine also has some of the best public schools in the country.
10. Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue ranks as one of the best suburbs in Washington state.
The city gets top marks for being commute-friendly. Bellevue is only about 20 minutes away from popular destinations such as Seattle, local wine country and hiking-friendly Cougar Mountain.
According to residents, the city encourages the use of public transportation. Some Bellevue public high schools have provided students with unlimited bus cards.
9. Berkeley, California
The Northern California city is a top spot, thanks to its good public schools, wealth of outdoor activities and for its easy commute across the East Bay from San Francisco.
Berkeley also attracts students from all over the world to the University of California, Berkeley. The diverse student body plays a major role in Berkeley's highly rated nightlife, which includes school sporting events, college bars, live music and performances.
8. Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland is a top spot for young professionals and families thanks to its highly rated public schools, employment rate, job and business growth, and cost of living.
The city also ranks highly for its outdoor activities and nightlife. One such category that encompasses both: Columbia's many summer music festivals.
7. Plano, Texas
This Texas city is one of the top spots to buy a home in America. More than half of Plano residents own their homes.
Plano offers many outdoor activities, including public parks and walking trails throughout the city. The area ranks highly for the health and fitness of its residents.
6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor ranks as one of the best cities to raise a family in America.
The city also has some of the best public schools in the country, plus affordable home prices and a high employment rate.
5. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is the No. 1 best city for young professionals in America, thanks to its number of millennial residents, job opportunities, access to bars, restaurants and affordable housing.
Adjacent to Boston, this city is also home to some of the most elite schools in the country, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
4. Overland Park, Kansas
Overland Park is rated as the best city to buy a house in America, based on home values, property taxes, home ownership rates, housing costs, and real estate trends.
The Kansas City suburb also gets top marks for its good public schools, employment rate, and outdoor activities including taking in the sights at the Museum at Prairiefire (pictured).
3. Naperville, Illinois
The wealthy Chicago suburb ranks as the best city to raise a family in America.
Naperville has the best public schools, a low crime rate and an affordable cost of living. The city has many outdoor activities, including a downtown riverwalk and an outdoor history museum called Naper Settlement.
2. Arlington, Virginia
Arlington is highly rated for its good public schools, nightlife and for being commute-friendly, thanks to its accessible public transportation. From Arlington, there are four Metro lines that go to and from Washington, D.C.
The Virginia city is also the home of the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, and the United States Air Force Memorial.
1. The Woodlands, Texas
This Houston-area city has good public schools, a low crime rate, an affordable cost of living and family-friendly amenities, including many outdoor activities.
The Woodlands offer scenic nature preserves, a waterway trolley, a huge mall with lots of stores, and many restaurants.