The Best Cities for the American Dream Are Places You've Never Heard of

Published On 06/11/2015 Published On 06/11/2015

Avid watchers of ABC's Shark Tank know that, according to the show's billionaire kingmakers, "the American Dream is alive and well." But which of America's cities hold the greatest chance for folks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Well, according to a recent study by NerdWallet, none of the cities you would've thought.

The study used data compiled by the Equality of Opportunity Project, assigning weights to each city's relative and absolute upward mobility measurements, as well as to the odds of a child in the bottom fifth of the city's income distribution moving to the top fifth. Looking at the raw data's a bit mind-bending, but the final results speak for themselves: the Midwest is the home of the American Dream.

Linton, ND topped the list of upwardly mobile cities, with nearly a 30% chance for bottom fifths kids to become top fifth earners, while Glendive, MT ranked in second place and third place went to Ord, NE. Yes, while popular culture would have you believe that big cities like New York and Los Angeles are havens of opportunity and chances to make it big, the numbers don't lie: the only major city to make NerdWallet's list was Miami, which landed at number 30 with a measly 7.3% chance of making it to the top from the bottom.

Here's the rest of the top 10:

10. Aberdeen, SD
9. Soda Springs, ID
8. Perryton, TX
7. Colby, KS
6. Sioux Center, IA
5. Vernal, UT
4. Gillette, WY
3. Ord, NE
2. Glendive, MT
1. Linton, ND

This is undoubtedly all relative, though, as the top fifth of earners in Linton aren't in the same league as Miami's top fifth. So basically, you're forced to choose between a hopeless shot at the big time or a more realistic shot at the pretty-good time. Hooray, America!

Gianni Jaccoma is a staff writer for Thrillist, and he's quite laterally mobile these days. Follow him to the big money on Twitter @gjaccoma, and send your news tips to



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