Some of the best small cities in the country are right here in North Carolina, a new study finds.
Three Wake County suburbs of Raleigh ranked highest among places to live, the financial website WalletHub announced Monday.
Apex and Holly Springs in western Wake are in the top 2 percent of small cities across the United States, results show.
Wake Forest in northern Wake isn’t far behind, earning a ranking in the top 5 percent.
So what makes these suburbs so attractive?
WalletHub says it scored a total of 1,268 small cities based on data related to educational attainment, community health, “quality of life” and other factors.
Apex and Wake Forest ranked among the best 100 cities nationally in the “economic health” category, which evaluated job and population growth, poverty and foreclosure rates and credit scores, results show.
Also, Apex and Holly Springs snagged top 100 spots for affordability, which the study says is a measure of income, cost of living and ease of homeownership.
Holly Springs placed No. 72 in the country for safety, a category that examined crime rates and deaths behind the wheel, according to WalletHub.
No other places in North Carolina ranked in the 95th percentile, the national results show. But the cities of Gastonia, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Wilson were near the bottom of the list.
Overall, the Kansas City suburb of Leawood, Kansas, was named the best place to live. The lowest-scoring city was Bessemer, Alabama, just outside Birmingham.