Mississippi is a truly glorious state. A place of historical relevance, high religious identity, deep cultural roots, and perhaps, the most passionate college football fans outside of Alabama.
Just kidding. Mississippi wins that, too.
In all seriousness, if you’re looking for a beautiful place with some of the most polite and friendly people in the country, the Magnolia State would be hard to beat.
So, where are the best places to live there? Instead of asking opinion or putting out polls, we decided the one way to decide it is to look at science and data. And that’s what we did here. That means, no arguing about the results, because they are unbiased.
You can’t argue with science, can you?
After analyzing the 70 most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 best places in Mississippi:
- Madison (Photos)
- Gulf Hills
- Pearl (Photos)
- Brandon (Photos)
- Long Beach (Photos)
- Horn Lake (Photos)
- Ocean Springs (Photos)
- Gulf Park Estates
- Diamondhead (Photos)
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. Hint: If you live in a Jackson suburb, consider yourself lucky.
How do you decide how awesome a place is?
In order to rank the best places to live in Mississippi, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The higher the better)
- Lowest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Low Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (High expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
- Short Commute Times
- Low Crime
- The best Weather
We also only considered cities with a population of more than 5,000.
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities, from best to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart. And, if you live in one of these cities, you should share this on Facebook. Because you see all your friends bragging about stuff all day, so it’s your turn, right?
Crime: 2nd lowest in Mississippi
Household vacancy rate: 3rd lowest in the state
Income: Highest in Mississippi
According to scientific data, Madison is the best place in Mississippi, and it’s not even close.
Residents here earn the most per household in the state, only 3% of homes are vacant (which is extremely low), and crime is basically non-existent.
No wonder the population here has jumped more than 30% in the last five years. Everyone who can afford it wants to live here. So if you’re in the Jackson area and want to settle in an awesome suburb, look no further.
2. Gulf Hills
Weather: 5th best in the state
Expenditure per student: 6th highest in Mississippi
Household income: $56,085
Another city with a booming population, Gulf Hills is on the rise. Who can complain about living on the Gulf, enjoying great weather and supportive public schools? When you factor in lots of amenities and a pretty high household income, you’ve got a great little spot there in Mississippi.
Gulf Hills is officially considered a census designated place, not a city.
Unemployment rate: 4.2% – The lowest in the state
House vacancy rate: 6.6%
Pearl is a mid-size city just outside of Jackson. If you work in Jackson, you can’t find a much better place to call home, and a 10% population growth is the proof that others agree as well.
More Pearl residents are employed than any other city in Mississippi. And, hardly any of the homes are empty. Those are two big signs that an area is thriving.
Household income: $53,509
Student spending: 2nd highest in the state
Unemployment rate: 4.9%
There seems to be a pattern here. It seems that the best places to live are just outside of Jackson. Ridgeland is a very nice place to live, where residents are employed gainfully, and the public schools are well funded.
The hometown of country artist Faith Hill has seen a 10% spike in population growth since 2010.
Household income: $67,824
Unemployment rate: 4.22% – second lowest in the state
House vacancy rate: 3.31%
Only 3% of the homes in Brandon are vacant. That’s off the charts low, and we don’t know if we’ve seen a number that low before in our data analysis.
Folks in this Jackson suburb have great jobs, and hardly any of them are without work. Plus, the crime is the 4th lowest in the state of Mississippi. Brandon can make a case that it’s the best place to live in the state, just based on those numbers alone.
6. Long Beach
Unemployment rate: 6.3%
Household income: $56,886
Student-teacher ratio: Best in Mississippi
Just to the west of Gulfport is the small community of Long Beach. Here, residents enjoy a low unemployment rate as well as really high salaries.
The student-teacher ratio is 12:1 in Long Beach, which is the lowest in the state. That’s some really serious devotion to the future of that community. Plus, you get to live along the Gulf, so that’s awesome.
7. Horn Lake
Crime: 12th lowest in Mississippi
House vacancy rate: 7.5%
Unemployment rate: 4.8%
Horn Lake might as well be a Memphis suburb it’s so far away from the rest of the cities in Mississippi. Crime is very low way out here in the boonies, and surprisingly, only 7% of homes are unoccupied, which is really low for such an isolated city.
Residents are also gainfully employed here. The only knock on Horn Lake might be its education ranking – its public schools are ranked almost last for spending.
8. Ocean Springs
Household income: $62,026
Crime: 20th best in the state for cities of its size
Ocean Springs is right across the bridge from Biloxi on the Gulf Coast. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of Mississippi. It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too.
Which means you can’t be bored here.
9. Gulf Park Estates
Household income: $69,409
Weather: 9th best in Mississippi
Crime: 18th best in the state
Right next door to Ocean Springs is Gulf Park Estates, a census designated place. Residents here enjoy the same factors that we’re seeing in other Gulf communities: High-paying jobs, lots of things to do, and low crime.
Crime: 5th lowest in Mississippi
Unemployment rate: 6.6%
Household income: $69,454
Located at the top of the Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead proves that living near the Gulf seems to be the most desirable place in Mississippi. Residents earn high salaries, and almost all of them are employed.
There You Have It
Like we said earlier, naming the best places in Rhode Island sounds silly, since many of the places here would rank really high in other states. But if you’re analyzing places in Rhode Island with the best economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
What’s interesting is how low Waveland ranked in our worst place to live in Mississippi study, considering that most other Gulf Coast cities ranked so high. Here’s the link to the 10 worst places in Mississippi story.
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Mississippi, according to science.
- Waynesboro (Pop. 5,073)
- Vicksburg (Pop. 23,275)
- Holly Springs (Pop. 7,699)
- Grenada (Pop. 13,121)
- Carthage (Pop. 5,062)