When most people think of Louisiana, New Orleans is not far behind. To non-residents, it is the epitome of Louisiana living—Cajun food, Mardi Gras, Southern charm, that delightful accent, and did we mention the Cajun food?
Residents, though, know that there is much more to the Bayou State than its most famous city; and as we discovered in our most recent study, in Louisiana, “most famous” doesn’t necessarily mean “best.”
More on that in a moment, though; for now, let’s take a look at all of the cities that did rank among the best in Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana had so many places with so much going on, we’ve decided to extend our list to include 15. Besides, as any good Cajun cook knows, variety is the spice of life.
Without further ado, here are the 15 best places in Louisiana:
2. City of Scott
3. Belle Chasse
4. Oak Hills Place
6. River Ridge
8. Red Chute
10. City of Harahan
11. City of Lafayette
12. Village St. George
14. Old Jefferson
15. City of Youngsville
What makes Inniswold the best place in Louisiana, and what exactly is so special about these 15? Keep on reading to find out just that—we’ll tell you the methodology behind our ranking and just where each of these places excelled.
How We Did It
Louisiana may have that Southern charm—and don’t even get us started on the food—but in order to determine which places in the state are the best, we needed some pretty universally measurable criteria. Ultimately, we decided on the following seven, broken down into a total of thirteen sub-criteria:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (Cost of living, Median home price, Median rent price, Median household income, Teacher per student ratio)
- Total crime
- Tax rates (Sales tax, Income tax)
- Unemployment rate
- Commute time
- Weather (Temperature, Air quality)
Once we settled on these criteria, we took a look at U.S. Census data for 108 places in the state of Louisiana with populations above 5,000. Each place was ranked from one to 108 in the individual criteria, with one being the best possible score. These individual rankings were then averaged into an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the winner.
Each of our winners made it to the top 15 for its own unique reasons, but, overall, the places that ranked the highest on our list had the following in common: a high number of overall amenities, a well-ranked overall quality of life, a low number of total crimes, a low tax rate, low unemployment, a shorter commute time, and cooler temperatures and clearer skies in the summer.
To take a look at the top 50 cities, go ahead and skip on down to the bottom of the post. Otherwise, let’s take a closer look at our top 15, starting with the winner, Inniswold.
Inniswold, located in East Baton Rouge Parish, scored well in our ranking in nearly all of the criteria, but in particular for its low crime rate of just 1,201 crimes out of 100,000 people; its relatively “cool” summer temperatures, averaging around 81 degrees; an average commute time of just 22 minutes (compared to, say, Lacombe, with an average commute time of 35 minutes); and a good overall quality of life score.
What does a good quality of life look like in Inniswold? Well, aside from OMI Restaurant’s Kung Pow Shrimp, it looks like this: a low student to teacher ratio—just 14 to 1, a high median household income of $59,851, a high median home price of $210,600, and a whopping 1,730 total amenities. Seriously, though, OMI Restaurant is reason enough to pack your bags and head to Inniswold– just be sure to include some elastic-waisted pants.
Scott, located in Lafayette Parish, may not have had the highest median household income on our list (still, an impressive $48,911), but it more than made up for it in our other criteria. Scott had one of the lowest costs of living in our top 15, a score of 82 where the national average is 100, and some of the lowest sales tax on our entire list. Scott’s sales tax is just 8 percent, compared to some cities in Louisiana, like Mandeville, where it’s over 9 percent. (Across the board, the income tax in Louisiana is 4 percent.)
Scott also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, just 4.7 percent, and a good overall score for its weather—temps averaging at 81 in the summer and an air quality score of 33 (the lower, the better).
So if you live in Scott, it sounds like you have plenty to celebrate– and what better way than with the annual Mardi Gras Parade? It’s coming up in February, so residents, take a deep breath (of that clean air!), get ready for some King Cake, and gather your family and friends, because Scott’s annual parade is one of the best– and the most family-friendly.
3. Belle Chasse
If we were awarding points in our study for delicious, home-style Cajun food, Belle Chasse may well have taken the lead for Salvo’s Seafood and Deli and Zydeco’s Cajun KItchen alone. As it was though, Belle Chasse still ranked pretty darn well overall– mostly for its high score in quality of life. To break that down, Belle Chasse had some of the highest median home and rent prices in the state, $227,200 and $1,130 per month, respectively, indicating the area’s strong desirability. This Plaquemines Parish place also scored highly for its high median household income of $66,730 and a student to teacher ratio of just 13 to 1.
All of that, and the sales tax in Belle Chasse was the lowest in our analysis, at just 7 percent? It almost sounds too good to be true. (Residents will assure you it’s not!)
4. Oak Hills Place
Located in East Baton Rouge Parish, Oak Hills Place placed well in our study for its high median home price of $247,600 and its high median rent price of $973 per month, indicating strong desirability to live in the area, and for good reason. As residents know, Oak Hills Place has the benefits of being close to a large city, Baton Rouge, but the bonus of not actually being in it! The community has a more intimate and quiet feel, parks like the Hilltop Arboretum nearby, and access to some really wonderful schools like the Montessori School of Baton Rouge. Of course, as they say, you get what you pay for; but it seems like residents here can certainly afford it. Oak Hills Place has the highest median household income in the state at $94,557.
With with a crime rate of just 1623 crimes per 100,000 people, Oak Hills Place is one of the safest places on our list as well.
Just between Baton Rouge and Gonzales lies our No. 5 place, Prairieville. Not only is Prairieville home to tons of local amenities and treasures like Tommy’s Fish House, Nooley’s, and breakfast favorite, Frank’s Restaurant; it also just so happened to score really well in many of our criteria. For example, Prairieville scored an 80 on its cost of living where the national average is 100. It’s a great place to be a kid, with a relatively low student to teacher ratio of just 14 to 1, and it seems to be a great place to be an adult, too, with an unemployment rate of just 5.7 percent.
For all those employed Prairieville residents heading to work, with an average commute time of just 21 minutes, an average summer temperature of 81 degrees, and a low air quality score of 37 (the lower, the better)—the ride to the office should not only be short, but downright pleasant.
6. River Ridge
This suburb of New Orleans, located in Jefferson Parish, came in high on our list for a number of reasons—chief among them, the high number of amenities in the area. We counted a total of 3,255 total amenities in River Ridge, making it one of the most “hopping” (business-wise) in our top 15.
River Ridge was also one of the most expensive when it came to home prices—the median home value here was $244,200. This means the area is highly desirable—unfortunately, it also contributes to a much higher cost of living—a score of 95, making it one of the more expensive places in Louisiana.
Tying with River Ridge for the No. 6 spot on our list was Prien. This Calcasieu County place scored points for a relatively low cost of living score of 83, and, lucky for residents, one of the higher median household incomes on our list—$62,654. That’s 59 percent higher than Louisiana’s overall median household income.
If a low cost of living and high median household income weren’t enough, Prien also came in as one of the safest places in our overall list, with a crime rate of just 1,823 crimes per 100,000 people, and one of the places with the lowest commute times, just 22 minutes.
8. Red Chute
Red Chute may have been one of the more expensive places in our list, with a cost of living score of 93 (100 is the national average), but as they say, you get what you pay for. What are residents paying for in Red Chute? According to our findings, some of best weather in the state— summer temperatures averaging at 81 degrees and an air quality score of just 33—and some of the most desirable real estate in the state, with a median rental price of $1,145 per month and a median home price of $154,800. To top it off, Red Chute is one of the safest places in the state, with just 2,102 crimes per 100,000 people.
Just off of the East Bank of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish, is Jefferson. This Census-Designated Place came in at No. 1 when it came to amenities—a whopping 7,386 total amenities. It also had one of the very lowest student to teacher ratios in our overall list, just 12 to 1, and some of the highest median home price—$173,300—indicating the area’s booming real estate market and high desirability.
Another New Orleans suburb located in Jefferson Parish, Harahan came in among the best places in Louisiana for its high overall score in quality of life. What that looks like in Harahan in particular, is a high number of amenities (3,815), a high median household income of $63,097, and some of the highest property values in the state, with a median home value of $216,600.
Sure, Harahan may not have the best student to teacher ratio (16 to 1), or the very lowest sales tax (though at 8.75 percent, it certainly isn’t the highest, either), but it more than makes up for this in its low crime rate of just 2,104 crimes per 100,000 people and average commute time of just 24 minutes.
By far the largest place in our list so far, with a population of nearly 123,000, the city of Lafayette scored well on our list for a number of reasons. As you might imagine, a city of this size does come with a lot of amenities—933 to be precise—but that isn’t even where Lafayette truly shined.
Lafayette soared above the rest when it came to its low unemployment rate of just 4.7 percent, and, to top it off, a short commute time of just 23 minutes. For all of you employed Lafayette residents heading to work this summer, be sure to roll your windows down and crank up the tunes for your drive—with an air quality score of 33 and an average temperature of 81, you had one of the best scores in weather on our list.
12. Village St. George
Village St. George was not only one of the safest cities on our list, with a crime rate of just 1,504 crimes per 100,000 people, but it also seems to be one of the more desirable places to rent, as indicated by its high median rent price of $940 per month.
Residents here can certainly afford it, though, with a median household income of $56,333 and an overall cost of living of 87, which is 13 points below the national average. Sure, 87 is still a bit high for Louisiana, but it sure beats Belle Chasse’s score of 97, where the living may be easy and expensive.
The largest place on our list, with a population of 137,210, Metairie made it to the top 15 for its high score in total number of amenities, an impressive 7,248; a high median home price of $210,900; and for a crime rate of just 2,128 crimes per 100,000 people—that’s 47 percent lower than the rest of the state.
14. Old Jefferson
With a population of about 6,500, Old Jefferson is one of the smaller places on our list—but in this case, small certainly does not mean it is lacking. In fact, with 1,230 total amenities, Old Jefferson seems to have quite a bit going on.
Residents in Old Jefferson have a median household income of $76,595, making this small place one of the best paid in the state. Add to this Old Jefferson’s low student to teacher ratio of 14 to 1, its high median home value, and its high median rent price of $964, rank Old Jefferson as one of the best when it comes to overall quality of life.
Wrapping up our list is Youngsville. This small city in Lafayette Parish has a median household income of $67,147 and a high median home price of $206,000. Where Youngsville truly shined, though, was in safety. With a crime rate of just 881 crimes per 100,000 people, Youngsville was ranked the very safest, not just in our top 15, but in all of the places we looked at in the state.
To top it off, Youngsville had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state—just 4.7 percent.
Union, Justice, Confidence, And More
Louisiana’s state motto may be “Union, Justice, and Confidence,” but after this study, we think you may need to add a few—like well-educated, safe, productive, and affordable. So congratulations to our top 15—and in particular to our winner, Inniswold. While we can’t exactly tell you how you’re doing in terms of union, justice, and confidence, we can at least guarantee you aced our criteria and are a great place in general.