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10 Cities That Embody the American Dream

Honolulu, Hawaii
Unemployment rate: 4.9%
Walk Score: 61
P/I ratio: 7.09
Education Quality Index score: 72.72
The city's median single-family home price of more than $579,000 was the highest among the American Dream cities and almost knocked it off the list, but Honolulu's median family income of $81,700 was also the best among its peers and earned it a spot.

Honolulu is teeming with the sort of downturn-resistant industries that have kept similar cities afloat during the recession. The state capital always has government jobs to fall back on and the headquarters of the United States Pacific Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, Tripler Army Medical Center, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the Naval Station at Pearl Harbor not only provide consistent economic support but account for more than 1% of Hawaii's entire population. Tourism still gives Honolulu its biggest boost; the airport, Hawaiian Airlines (HA - Get Report) and various hotels and attractions drive a $50 billion industry that still accounts for nearly a quarter of the state's gross product.

Those same tourists would tend to agree with Honolulu's ranking as one of the most walkable cities on the list. Downtown, Waikiki, Ala Moana-Kakaao and similar waterfront neighborhoods feature long blocks, lots of shopping, restaurants and other amenities and adequate transit.

If you're going to reside in a city where the cost of living is similar to that of New York or San Francisco, however, the least you can ask out of the deal is a decent public school system. Honolulu's is part of a school district that covers the entire state, but there are fewer than 60,000 kids in Honolulu's 78 schools. The average high school has less than 1,000 students and middle schools scarcely muster 500. That gives the schools a 14-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio and allows the district to lavish lots of attention on each student.

Most importantly, when the day ends, you're in Honolulu. The city's views of the Pacific and natural beauty come at a high cost, but it's reachable.
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