Teaching Profession

Report Names the Best Cities to Live in if You’re a Teacher

By Kristine Kim — May 26, 2017 2 min read
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The end of the school year might mean some teachers are considering a move. How about to Bentonville, Ark.? The estimated 47,000-person city was ranked by GoodCall as the nation’s best city for K-12 teachers in 2017.

The data analysis site gathered data from 689 cities and ranked them based on: job availability, comparative salary, cost of living, residents with degrees, safety, and amenities.

According to GoodCall, Bentonville was ranked No. 1 for two reasons: Teachers in Bentonville make 68 percent more than the city’s median overall salary, and the cost of living there is about 10 percent below the national average.

Here are the top 10 cities for K-12 teachers based on all ranking factors:

1. Bentonville, Ark.

2. Glenview, Ill.

3. Evanston, Ill.

4. Elmhurst, Ill.

5. Troy, Mich.

6. Southfield, Mich.

7. State College, Pa.

8. Burlington, Vt.

9. Plainfield, Ill.

10. Crystal Lake, Ill.

If salary is the major consideration, GoodCall ranked Las Cruces, N.M., as the city with the highest median teacher salary—$69,727—in comparison to the median average salary of the rest of the population—$29,390. In other words, teachers make 237 percent more than the average citizen of Las Cruces.

Education Week’s Teacher Beat previously covered which states pay teachers the most and least, reporting that teachers are paid the highest in Alaska, at $77,843. But in terms of affordable housing options on a teacher salary, Education Week Teacher reported that Dayton, Ohio, was the optimal choice. Eighty-three percent of available houses in that city were attainable on a teacher’s $61,810 average state salary.

GoodCall analysts were also interested in discovering which cities seemed to “value education” more than others, in terms of the number of high school and college degree holders from the 2015 American Community Survey estimates.

Fishers, Ind., had the highest number of high school graduates: 98.17 percent of residents older than 25 years old have a high school diploma. Brookline, Mass., had the highest number of college graduates: 81.74 percent of its residents older than 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Other takeaways from GoodCall’s analysis:

  • The smaller, the better. The top 10 percent had an average of 91,000 residents in comparison to the bottom 10 percent, which averaged populations of more than 138,000.
  • Head to the suburbs. More than half of the top 20 cities sit outside of Chicago and Detroit.
  • Look for an emphasis on education. All top 10 cities have at least 91 percent of residents with a high school diploma.
  • It’s good to teach in the Midwest. Top cities tended to be near the center of the country, while the lowest-ranked cities were along the coasts.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that personal preferences aside, urban school districts need quality teachers as much as any suburban district. Educators Angel Cintron and Paul Bruno shared on Education Week Teacher their takeaways from teaching in high-poverty urban schools and, tell why they chose to stay in high-needs schools, despite high teacher turnover rates.

Chart via Goodcall

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.