The Best Places to Live in the U.S.: 25 Small to Mid Size Cities with It All
Over the past 18 months, almost half of Americans either moved or thought about it. If you look into your options, you’ll find that the most livable places in the U.S. aren’t necessarily the biggest, and sometimes they’re surprising. So if you’re one of the millions of people contemplating moving and you’re looking for a small or mid-sized town that has it all, this list of the best places to live is for you and your budget.
How Did We Pick These 25 Best Places to Live?
For eight years, Livability.com has been collecting data from surveys and studies to analyze 1,000 cities in America to find some of our country’s best places to live. They look at the factors that people care about for a hometown, like how safe it is, how affordable it would be to live there, the stability and availability of well-paying jobs, opportunities for outdoor activities, and how engaged the community is.
Then they build a list of places that seemingly do the impossible. These unicorn cities score high on multiple factors and provide residents with so much. So what are you waiting for? Your next hometown could be one of these 25 Best Places to Live.
1. Madison, Wisconsin
One of the best college towns in the country, Madison, Wisconsin, is much more than meets the eye. Located between Lake Mendota and Monona (offering residents tons of hiking and biking trail options), it also has a strong economy. It is an excellent place for new college graduates and retirees, and anyone in between. On top of that, it also has beautiful architecture (thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright) and lovely farmers’ markets to enjoy.
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Known mainly as the home of the University of Michigan, this college town is buzzing with culture, green vistas, and innovation, making it one of the best places to live in the U.S. Ann Arbor has a tech startup scene that helped launch Nokia and Duo Security and helping make tomorrow’s innovations a reality.
3. Overland Park, Kansas
If you’re looking for a suburb with peaceful scenery, look into Overland Park. With excellent schools, affordable houses, and plenty of theatres, this nearby city to St. Louis received high marks. Overland Park offers a lot, from a killer barbeque scene, extensive botanical garden, and large employers like T-Mobile.
4. Frederick, Maryland
If you had to describe Frederick in one word, it would be charming. With countryside wineries, beautiful architecture, and rich history, this little city is truly one of the best places to live in the U.S. If you only have to commute to Baltimore or D.C. every once in a while, it’s a fantastic regional option. Don’t let its country vibes fool you, though. Frederick is also home to tons of startups and tech companies doing cutting-edge research right in town.
5. Charlottesville, Virginia
Another college town, Charlottesville, has grown from the creativity and energy of the prestigious public college, The University of Virginia. Once the home of presidents Jefferson and Monroe (and The Dave Matthews Band), this once countryside now bustling city of its own offers an abundance of theatres, open outdoor spaces, and plenty of local restaurants that will have you feeling at home in no time.
6. Quincy, Massachusetts
Close to hundreds of colleges and universities (including Harvard), Quincy has maintained its historical feel while keeping an eye on the future. Quincy’s downtown area is Boston’s biggest revitalization project and where you’ll find the perfect mix of shops, restaurants, homes, and commercial space.
7. Hillsboro, Oregon
Part of Oregon’s Silicon Forest, Hillsboro is home to the headquarters of many high-tech companies, including Intel and Genentech. Though it’s right next to Portland, rest assured that Hillsboro has a personality of its own, offering exceptional health care, family farms, and arts and culture organizations for days.
8. Roseville, California
If you want warm weather with beautiful summers and short winters yet don’t want to break the bank on housing, Roseville is the place for you. On top of the fantastic weather, Roseville is only 20 minutes away from Sacramento and is a short ride away from the nearby Sierra Nevada foothills and Folsom Lake.
9. Colorado Springs, Colorado
No list of best places to live is complete without Colorado Springs, home to the stunning Garden of the Gods, the United States Air Force Academy, and the official U.S. Olympic Training Center. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs gives its residents plenty of access to nature, many outdoor recreation options, and a strong job market on its own, as well as close access to Denver’s urban sprawl.
10. Vancouver, Washington
If Portland has grown too much for you, check out one of its neighboring towns, Vancouver. It is known for its wide variety of food with Latino and Asian markets, delightful Eastern European bakeries, and french-inspired restaurants. Grab a treat from one of the town’s small businesses and head out to The Cascade Mountains, Pacific Ocean shores, Columbia River, or Mount Hood, all nearby.
11. Corvallis, Oregon
Lots of hiking and biking trails? Check. A laid-back vibe? Check. Free public transportation? Check. Strong job market? Check! In the heart of Willamette Valley wine country and home to Oregon State University, Corvallis has a lot to offer residents.
12. Raleigh, North Carolina
One of the more well-known cities on the list, Raleigh’s secret as a city that truly has it all, has been known for a while. Whether you’re an aspiring chef looking to hit the ground running, or a huge foodie with a love of new experiences, or an entrepreneur starting your business, or a remote worker looking for fiber internet, you’ll find it in the capital city of North Carolina
13. Omaha, Nebraska
If you’re into personal finance or investing, you know Omaha as the home of legendary investor Warren Buffett! Once you dig deeper into the authentic community vibe, creative food scene, low cost of living, and museums, you’ll see that there is something for all age groups in the cornhusker state.
14. Rochester, Minnesota
Hate waiting in traffic? Well, then Rochester is the perfect city for you, with an average commute time of just 16.5 minutes! With major healthcare and tech employers like the Mayo Clinic and IBM, this town hits the bullseye of the low cost of living plus substantial job opportunities. Rochester also offers lots of family-friendly activities, a bustling downtown center, and tons of outdoor activities.
15. Columbia, Maryland
Everything about Columbia, Maryland screams: come live here. Another city conveniently located between D.C. and Baltimore, this community was built from a master plan. From the natural parks to the open spaces to the cultural events, it’s no wonder that Columbia consistently makes lists for the best places to live in terms of quality of life.
16. Franklin, Tennessee
Is it possible to have a city with a strong historical presence, an innovative tech scene, outstanding healthcare offerings, and many lively festivals? As Franklin, Tennessee shows, yes, it is. Known as Nashville’s wine country, you’ll be less than an hour from Music City with easy access to all it has to offer.
17. Plano, Texas
A city needs to blend all the critical elements to make it onto the list of best places to live. That is precisely what Plano Texas offers. With two massive upscale shopping centers, tons of local boutiques, more than a thousand dining options, large corporate headquarters, and no personal state income tax, there’s a lot of love about Plano.
18. Lincoln, Nebraska
Home to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln is the epitome of a college town. Don’t let that fool you, though. Lincoln offers its residents fantastic healthcare, small businesses to shop from, and affordable housing (with a median home price of 177k). Consider Lincoln if you’re looking to relocate to a town with lots of spirit and activity that won’t cost all of your retirement savings.
19. Asheville, North Carolina
Sitting at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a beautiful mountain town with the vibe of larger cities. With excellent beer, award-winning chefs, and a local drum circle, Asheville combines a small-town feel with big-city culture and activities every Friday night.
20. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
With a booming economy, all four seasons, and lots of activities for the whole family, Sioux Falls claims a spot on the list of best places to live. If you’re looking for a home with a decent cost of living, a low crime rate, and a small-town vibe, look no further than Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest city.
21. Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is one of the top places to live in the U.S. when it comes to the outdoors scene. With forests and lakes galore plus the youthful energy and intercultural curiosity of Indiana University, Bloomington is another Midwestern gem.
22. Framingham, Massachusetts
Framingham is another excellent American town to raise a family or retire in, with charming neighborhoods, exciting nightlife, and bustling metro areas. You can have it all in Framingham with a six-figure job in nearby Boston, a terrific school system, and all the pros of the suburbs.
23. Tacoma, Washington
If you love the vibe and scene of Seattle but are looking for a smaller town, check out sister-city Tacoma. It has all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, livable suburbs neighborhoods, substantial job opportunities, and the arts and culture the region is known for.
24. Boise, Idaho
The secret of Boise as one of the best places to live has gotten out! This small town has so much to offer with a low cost of living and America’s fastest-growing job market, especially in the tech and healthcare industries. Enjoy living in style with fly fishing, skiing, college football games, a jazz music hub, and a craft brew scene.
25. Durham, North Carolina
Durham beautifully balances history and innovation, landing a spot on the list of best places to live. Known as the home of Research Triangle Park, employing 80,000 people, this mid-size city has been steadily drawing people from high-cost living areas. You’ll find affordable places to live, an entrepreneurial economy (for those with side hustles ideas), and a rich arts community.
Recap: Best Places to Live in the U.S.
Whether you’re looking to stay in the same region as friends and family, move outside a city but still have access to urban life, or find a fantastic place to retire, America has a lot of options. So take a vacation to one or more of these best places to live to see what they are like. You might fall in love with a new town faster than you think!
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.