Bert Sperling just released a new list of “The Best Places to Hit Refresh” and perhaps surprisingly many are located in the much-ignored flyover states. According to the list, five cities throughout the Midwest and Great Plains perfect for those looking to start over. Their methodologies included looking at the city’s overall population, unemployment rates, rates of singles living in the city, and the types of economies that the city can call their own—from oil in the upper Great Plains to education in the eastern Midwest.
What cities grace the list and why? In fifth place, Sioux Falls, SD, with its location in a state with some of the country’s most business-friendly laws (no corporate income tax, for example), low unemployment rate (5.5%), and a singles rate that rivals some of the larger U.S. metros (19th in the nation) allows for a perfect opportunity for those looking to start over. An economy that includes a number of banks and other financial firms and excellent health care has attracted a huge growth rate in recent years.
Next on the list is a tie between two more southwestern cities: Lawton, OK and Logan, UT. Both of these locales offer low unemployment rates (5.6% and 5.7%, respectively) and a high singles rate (15.9% and 16.4%). Lawton’s economy consists mostly of the Fort Sill U.S. military base, while Logan’s boasts Utah State University as its major economic provider.
Next up is the city of Lincoln, NE whose residents enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.1%. The city’s economy is composed of several financial and insurance firms, a Goodyear tire factory, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln which helps to give the city a high rate of singles at 15.1%.
The second best city to start over is the northern city of Fargo, ND. Home to Microsoft Business Solutions, Fargo began its growth even before the explosion of the oil and gas industry in western North Dakota. The populace enjoys the nation’s third-lowest unemployment rate at 4.5%, while the presence of North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University at Moorhead contribute a high rate of singles (15.9%) as well as a young feel to the isolated city.
Finally, the best city to start over according to Sperling is the Midwestern college town of Iowa City, IA. The city boasts a very low unemployment rate (4.7%), a high singles rate (16.1%), and a well-educated workforce thanks to the presence of the University of Iowa. The city’s culture is positively affected by Chicago’s proximity and the university’s label as a Big Ten college, as well as a diverse student population. Iowa City is a flourishing Midwestern city with deep cultural roots that make for a great place to not only start over, but to live as well.
All of this comes at a perfect time after a University of Iowa journalism professor, Stephen Bloom, openly marginalized the state of Iowa’s populace as the “elderly waiting to die”. Sperling’s list helps to solidify Iowa (and the rest of the Midwest and Great Plains) as a hopeful place with opportunity as fertile as the soil itself.