These Are the Best Small Cities in the U.S., According to Research

published Oct 23, 2021
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For big city dwellers who love the bright lights and crowded spaces that come with larger cities, moving to an area with a smaller population may be something that’s totally unappealing. But, partially thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, big city growth is actually slowing down as people start to embrace the many benefits of moving to a smaller city. Shorter traveling times, cheaper property, and a larger sense of community are just some of the advantages that may come with putting down roots in a small city.

WalletHub, a personal finance education site, has recently released its report on 2021’s best small cities in America, comparing more than 1,300 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 across 43 key indicators of livability. Factors include cost of living, homeownership rate, number of restaurants and attractions, and school-system quality.

Interested in seeing what life is like outside of the urban jungle? Here, the five top small cities in the U.S.:

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5. Reading, Massachusetts

Population: 25,518
Median household income: $132,731
Median home value: $562,800
Median monthly rent: $1,354

Reading, Massachusetts is a popular choice, known for its nature, award-winning schools, and close-knit community. New England’s beaches, mountains, and historic sights are a stone’s throw away, and the renowned cultural, recreational, and educational opportunities of Central Boston are just 12 miles out of Reading.

4. Lexington, Massachusetts

Population: 33,340
Median household income: $186,201
Median home value: $889,700
Median monthly rent: $2,475

Lexington, MA has had a 6,20% increase in population since the 2010 census (31,394 vs. 33,340). Known for Lexington Common, or Boston Green,  where the first shot of the American Revolutionary War was fired, Lexington has a rich history, vibrant culture, and is know for its highly-rated school system.

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3. Brentwood, Tennessee

Population: 45,373
Median household income: $168,688
Median home value: $655,400
Median monthly rent: $2,085

Brentwood, Tennessee (not to be confused with Brentwood, California) is a sleepy suburb that’s one of the most sought-after places to live in the whole of TN. With plenty of green spaces, employment opportunities, local attractions, and a close and friendly community, Brentwood is a great place to live if you want a quieter area that’s not too far from the hustle and bustle of Nashville.

2. Carmel, Indiana

Population: 99,577
Median household income: $112,765
Median home value: $333,200
Median monthly rent: $1,207

Carmel, Indiana has often be cited as one of the best places to live in the United States, and has also been honored for being one of the safest in America, and best place to launch a career and to raise a family. Points of interest include Midtown Plaza Carmel and the Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections.

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1. Sammamish, Washington

Population: 67,455
Median household income: $183,000
Median home value: $830,000
Median monthly rent: $2,395

Sammamish, Washington is a small city that’s full of natural beauty. Lake Sammamish and Lake Beaver are in close reach, with spectacular views of Mount Rainier. The school system, employment opportunities, and quality of living are all rated very highly, making Sammamish a great option for families who’d like to put down roots in the Pacific Northwest.