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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), 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), Lonza Group and LabCorp (LH) 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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