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10 Cities That Embody the American Dream

Portsmouth, N.H.
Unemployment rate: 4.5%
Walk score: 58
P/I ratio: 4.08
Education Quality Index score: 77.41
No sales tax, no income tax. In a state with 4.9% unemployment, how can Portsmouth sweeten the pot even further?

By giving its residents a lovely waterfront view, surrounding them with historic homes, churches, lighthouses and other attractions and keeping them well-sedated with a strong local brewing scene that includes large Red Hook and Smuttynose breweries.

The average Portsmouth family takes home $80,820 a year and keeps a whole lot more of it thanks to the state's "Live Free or Die" approach to taxation. The jobs are pretty steady, too, as Hospital Corporation of America (HCA - Get Report), Liberty Mutual and the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs' National Passport Center and Visa Center provide strong alternatives to commuting to Boston each day. The area also has a burgeoning biotech community that counts ThermoFisher Scientific (TMO - Get Report), Lonza Group and LabCorp (LH - Get Report) among its top employers.

Oh, and it's absolutely beautiful. Roughly 63% of the city is dense and walkable, and the portions near Pleasant Street and Route 1B by the water have fine views of the harbor and the Piscataqua River. It's why a sizable portion of the population call this town home but takes a charter bus or a commuter rail train from Newburyport, Mass., into work in Boston each day.

As school systems go, Portsmouth's is near the top of our list. Portsmouth High School gets a near-perfect score. Some of the lower and middle schools could use some polish, but homeowners should know that the almost $330,000 median price of their home isn't going to waste.

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