That all depends on what exactly your criteria are. Are you looking for a good area for families or looking for a good area for retirement, etc.?
Rapid City and Pierre, South Dakota as rated by various surveys quite a bit lower in cost of living, high in employment and a decent quality of life (low crime rate, fresh air, etc.)
""According to the recently released U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey, South Dakotans have the nation’s second shortest commute-to-work time. People working in South Dakota spend about 16 minutes traveling to work. Maryland and Southern New York State had the highest commute times at more than 31 minutes."
Cost-of-Living Rank: 33
Crime Rate Rank: 55
Commuting Rank: 7
Household Income Rank: 89
Home Ownership Rank: 21
Homeowner Costs Rank: 3
Education Rank: 10
Pittsburgh, PA is highly rated, one the home of the fallen giant steel industry, it's diversified its economy and boasts low crime and high educational attainment. Pittsburgh also has the highest home ownership rate in our 10.
"People know that Pittsburgh is a really great place for families because of safety, schools and the arts."
"Provo (and Orem) Utah, is a bustling college town, home to Brigham Young University, but it's not just a great place for students. Families flock there for its safety and schools: It has the highest percentage of high-school graduates on our list and one of the lowest crime rates."
Ogden UT also
Albany metro (Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs)
Cost-of-Living Rank: 45
Crime Rate Rank: 17
Commuting Rank: 23 (typical commute is 20-25 mins avg)
Household Income Rank: 30
Home Ownership Rank: 68
Homeowner Costs Rank: 33
Education Rank: 8
Metro Albany is an area with which I've got 7 yrs experience at residing. Apple orchards and dairy farms abound in the outskirts. Close proximity to great skiing in VT and nearby Hunter Mntn down in Catskills, and gorgeous fall foliage and outdoors in Berkshires to the east and Adirondack State park to it's north.
Home of RIP and Technology and Business incubation center and future home to a brand state-of-the art new computer chip fab plant nr Saratoga Springs.
There's a start for you.
Abundant access to all kinds of arts, all year round in serveral close locations as well as access to the summer perfromances of dance, music and theater (Berkshires in MA too).
A partly remodeled and gentrified downtown Troy (nr RPI) and waterfront area. Lots of old brownstone and architectural delights. Its at the start of having a real estate (albeit mini '... at the moment) upswing.
A few years back in Sarasota and St. Pete there were problems with some Chinese mfr insulation and black mold in some apartments and homes. These problems are pretty much under control now.
Infestation? Seriously? This is a semi-tropical environment ..and I see and talk with many people who use good exterminators or they DIY. It's well under control at least on southwest FL. I feel that is an overblown issue.