When people think of the South, Mississippi is often one of the first places that springs to mind. Of course the other Southern states have a certain charm, the men are gentlemen, everyone knows how to order a proper dessert (mud pie), and of course, ya’ll know the correct way to address a group of people. But still, out of all the states, Mississippi seems to be the real epitome of the Old South.
Amidst that southern flavor (which I imagine tastes something like fried okra), Mississippi is filled with variety. Forests, farms, and of course ‘Ol Man River; cities, towns, and everything in between. It is these places that make this state what it is. Places like Long Beach; the best places in the state.
What makes one place better than the rest? We’ll get to that in a moment. For now, here are the 10 best places in Mississippi:
Out of over 40 places in Mississippi, Long Beach came in as the very best—of course, it wasn’t without some stiff competition. Keep reading to find out how we came up with these rankings, the method of our analysis, and just why each of these 10 places is better than the rest.
How We Did It
Mississippi may be home to one of the nation’s longest rivers, and arguably the grandest; it may be the longest name of any state (a debate that has raged for years with Rhode Island), and it may even be home to our nation’s longest alligator (13 feet, 7 inches), but in conducting our analysis, we knew that longer was not necessarily better. So just like in finding the best places in Colorado and Louisiana, for example, we decided to keep it simple with these seven criteria, broken down into a total of 13 categories:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
From there, we looked at the U.S. Census data for all of the places in the Hospitality State with more than 10,000 residents. This left us with a total of 42 places. Then, we ranked each place from one to 42, with one being the best. Finally, we averaged each ranking for an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest number being the best.
To see a complete list of the Mississippi rankings, you can hop down to the bottom of the post. For those of y’all that want to see the top 10, though, let’s get started with our winner.
1. Long Beach
Mississippi is known as the Hospitality State and among the places in the state, Long Beach may just be the most welcoming. Not only is this Harrison County city home to the friendliest tree around, the Friendship Oak, but it also ranked well in tons of other welcoming activities to get into.
Long Beach also had one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in our analysis, just 14 to 1, and was one of the most affluent in terms of income and real estate prices. For example, the median household income in Long Beach is $54,832, and the median rent price is $976, some 66 percent higher than the rest of the state, indicating a high desirability to live in the area.
This friendly city is home to the University of Southern Mississippi, it has one of the lowest crime rates in the state with just 2,305 crimes per 100,000 people, and, to top it off, Long Beach has a warm average summer temperature of 82 degrees, perfect for a game of miniature golf at Plantation Pines or a dip in the gulf.
Madison may be the most expensive city in Mississippi, with a cost of living of 102 (10 percent higher than the rest of the state), but with a median household income of $100,679, it is also the most affluent.
What do residents do with all of this income? Well, for one, they probably spend a good portion of it on real estate, as Madison ranked as the most expensive when it came to median home price ($232,400) and median rent price ($1,592). Two, they must invest a good chunk into maintaining the community’s safety, because with just 990 crimes per 100,000 people, it is one of the safest places in the state. And, of course, they have fun with it, which shouldn’t be too hard to do with amenities like Strawberry Cafe, Mama Hamil’s, and the Malco Grandview Cinema.
This Lafayette County city may well be the smartest in the state, not just because it is home to the University of Mississippi, but also in the way it earned the honor. Before Oxford was Oxford it was a simple, nameless piece of land purchased from a Chickasaw landowner. Then in 1837, it was named Oxford after the English university, in hopes of becoming the educational center for Mississippi. The name worked, and in 1848 the University of Mississippi was built.
Today, Oxford is still a leader in education, with a low student to teacher ratio of just 13 to 1 (the lowest in the state), and perhaps because of the university, Oxford had one of the highest number of total amenities in our study.
Another city in Madison County, Ridgeland is well known for its Fine Arts Festival, an absolute array of shopping and restaurants, and, of course, the crispy catfish at the Trace Grill.
The numbers in our study were just the cherry on top. With a median household income of $53,114, Ridgeland was the 10th most affluent place in our study, and the fifth most desirable in terms of real estate, judging by the median home price of $167,400.
To top it off, Ridgeland also had one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of the 42 places we looked at, just 6.8 percent.
This Rankin County city is the pearl of Mississippi. Even with a population of over 26,000, Pearl maintains a close-knit community feel, with the Center City Complex, the Pearl Activity Center, Bright Park, City Park, and a variety of walking trails like Old Library.
If a sense of community, parks, catfish, and sweet potato fries don’t do it for you, don’t worry—that’s why we have the numbers. With a cost of living of 85 (where the national average is 100), Pearl came in as the most affordable city in our top 10. Plus, it had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, just 6.1 percent, and more amenities than 36 other places in the state.
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This city of just over 22,000 residents made our top 10 for a number of reasons, most of which involved dollar signs. For example, the median household income in Brandon is an impressive $62,706, 85 percent higher than Mississippi. Homes here are also 74 percent higher than Mississippi, at $160,500, making it the eighth most expensive city on our list in terms of real estate.
Brandon was also one of the safest places on our list, and along with Pearl, had one of the lowest unemployment rates. No wonder residents love Brandon so much (well, the Heart and Soul Diner might have something to do with it too).
This city of just over 25,700 scored well for an overall good quality of life. What does a good quality of life look like, exactly? Well, in Clinton it looks something like this: a median household income of $56,539, a median home price of $143,200, and a median rent price of $829, some 41 percent higher than the rest of the state.
Plus, Clinton residents can rest easy knowing that their city is one of the 10 safest in the state, with a crime rate of just 2,406 crimes per 100,000 people.
Biloxi may be well known for the “Biloxi Blues”, but after our analysis, it doesn’t look like this city has a whole lot to be blue about. With just over 44,500 residents, Biloxi is one of the larger cities in the state, and certainly the largest in our top 10, and with that comes a whole lot of amenities.
Biloxi also scored well in our list for its higher than average median home and rent prices, $157,300 and $835 respectively, and with an average summer temperature of 82 and a air quality score of 31 (lower is better), this home of the blues (and, fun fact, Jimmy Buffett), was ranked the very best in terms of weather.
This Mississippi city sounds more like something out of a fairy tale than a Southern state in the U.S. Located in Forrest County, along the lovely Leaf River, Petal ranked well, not for having the absolute most alluring name in the state, but mostly for the lowest crime rate in our analysis, just 67 crimes per 100,000 people, and one of the higher quality of life scores overall.
To break that down for you, this meant that Petal had a low student to teacher ratio of just 15 to 1, a high median household income of over $48,000, and a median rent price of $807. Of course, had we been awarding points for beautiful city names, Petal, you would have been No. 1.
The final place on our list goes to Byram. With a population of just over 11,700, Byram was one of the smallest cities in our study, but as we found out, that in no way meant it was lacking things to do. In fact, there’s plenty to do for the smaller population.
Byram also had one of the lower student to teacher ratios in our analysis, just 15 to 1, one of the highest median household incomes, $55,606, and one of the highest median rent prices, $991. Plus, with a crime rate of just 2,197 per 100,000 people, this Hinds County city was one of the safest in our analysis.
Thanks For The Hospitality
In our virtual tour of your great state, Mississippi, we’ve seen the cities with the best student to teacher ratios, the highest incomes, the lowest crime rates, and, of course, some of the best real Southern cookin’ around. Most of all, though, in each of these 10 places, we’ve seen the true colors of your state shine through. So, Hospitality State, thanks for letting us drop by, and, of course, we welcome your opinions on this list below. See y’all in the comments section.
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