These Are the Best Small Cities in America in 2023

published Oct 13, 2023
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A row of colonial homes graces an historic neighborhood in Charlestown, MA
Credit: James Kirkikis | Shutterstock

You’re in good company if you’ve been yearning to ditch life in the big city. A recent poll found that 34% of Americans would prefer to live in the suburbs, compared to 16% for urban areas and 24% for rural areas.

Although small-city residents might lack access to the same entertainment attractions and around-the-clock amenities that big cities offer, small cities are consistently more affordable, offer more opportunities for connections with neighbors, and tend to offer residents more space. Meanwhile, many small cities lie near major urban areas, allowing people to commute without missing out on career or economic opportunities. But when it comes to small cities in the United States, which are the best?

Personal finance education site WalletHub has released its report on 2023’s best small cities in America. To do so, the WalletHub team compared over 1,300 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 based on 45 key indicators of livability, including housing costs, school-system quality, parks per capita, and more.

The city of Carmel, Indiana, takes the top spot this year, up one spot from its second-place ranking in 2022. Located just north of Indianapolis, the city also placed fourth in Wallet Hub’s Safety category, making it an ideal place to raise a family. With a Gold Medal park system and over 125 corporate headquarters, residents can also count on Carmel for outdoor leisure and employability. 

Second place goes to Lexington, Massachusetts. Although Lexington Common is known for being where the first shot of the American Revolutionary War was fired, the town has plenty to offer 2023 residents outside of historical sites. It topped WalletHub’s Education & Health category and conveniently sits just 10 miles from Downtown Boston.

Brentwood, Tennessee, takes third place. This picturesque Nashville suburb boasts some of the highest-ranked Tennessee schools, with plenty of greenery and steady employment opportunities to keep residents healthy and happy.

Here’s WalletHub’s full list of the top 10 small U.S. cities in 2023.

  1. Caramel, Indiana
  2. Lexington, Massachusetts
  3. Brentwood, Tennessee
  4. Westfield, Indiana
  5. Fishers, Indiana
  6. Fair Lawn, New Jersey
  7. Milton, Massachusetts
  8. Melrose, Massachusetts
  9. Saratoga Springs, New York
  10. Brookfield, Wisconsin