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Southern charm prevails.

The South hasn't lost its charm. Just as in 2004, seven Southern cities secured spots on this year's Top 10 Cities for African Americans list. Two others hail from the Midwest, and the last is in the Mid-Atlantic region. Since our ranking debuted in 2001, five cities have held steady in the top echelon: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Houston; and Washington, D.C. For the third consecutive time, major cities on the East and West coasts failed to make the grade because of social problems such as a high cost of living, crime, and mediocre schools.

"African Americans continue to relocate to areas below the Mason-Dixon Line in search of a better quality of life and career opportunities," says Editor-At-Large Carolyn M. Brown, who spearheaded the Top Cities project. "Southern cities offer the same social benefits as big-city life. On top of that, they afford black families a higher standard of living in terms of income, education, housing, and healthcare."

An important consideration in this year's ranking was earnings. Living in an area where residents earn six figures can signify a certain level of success. In the Washington metropolitan area, black residents account for 15.2% of all households bringing home more than $100,000 a year. Atlanta is not too far behind at 14.5%.

Having a $100,000-plus paycheck won't go far, though, if a city's cost of living, state taxes, and home prices are high. When it comes to quality of life, for some people it is a trade-off between locations with higher prices but the promise of good jobs and those where the living is more affordable but the jobs pay less. In places like Jacksonville, you get a lot more home for your buck.

Among the homeowners who have taken advantage of this scenario are Carene John and Maurio Farmer. Less than six months ago, their family of four moved into a 2,000-square-foot home with a backyard and a two-car garage. The couple paid $230,000 to be part of a brand-new development located in an upwardly mobile, racially mixed neighborhood in Jacksonville. "We wanted to move into our home debtfree, and we did," says John. "We pretty much lived well below our means, and the city afforded us the ability to do that comfortably."

If you're considering a change of locale or just want to see if your hometown makes the grade, check out our Top 10 Cities for African Americans.

--The Editors
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Title Annotation:About This Issue
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:May 1, 2007
Previous Article:The new great migration.
Next Article:Have we overcome?

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