The Best Small Town to Live in, in Every U.S. State

updated Oct 22, 2020
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"Gingerbread houses" in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

There’s something universally alluring about a small town like “Gilmore Girls'” Stars Hollow. The coffee shop owner knows your order, your name, and if you’re having a bad day. There’s no traffic. It doesn’t take 30 minutes to find a parking space when meeting friends for a drink. Why aren’t more of us packing our lives into boxes and finding a quaint, lovely small town to put them in?

After all, I personally know that I could work remotely. I don’t technically need to work in a big city. Wouldn’t it be great to have a garage? Spots for friends and family members to park when they visit? Going on a hike and not running into coworkers who had the exact same idea?

It turns out, I’m not alone in my fantasies. The Wall Street Journal reported that more and more millennials have been relocating to small towns, claiming that, “Since 2014 an average of about 30,000 residents between 25 and 39 have left big cities annually.”

According to Beatrice de Jong, Consumer Trends Expert at Opendoor, there are many reasons why we’re seeing more folks head to small towns. She tells Apartment Therapy, “Remote work is becoming more common, and this growing trend has empowered homebuyers to live outside of major metropolitan areas. While cities have historically been prime real estate with higher price tags, homeowners can get more bang for their buck in the suburbs or rural areas.”

On top of the flexibility and cost, small towns tend to have better public school systems than cities do. Broker Michael J. Franco at Compass Realty explains, “One of the other main reasons I see people leaving New York is the cost of raising kids in the city and schools where the process can be complicated and, of course, expensive with private schools. Many suburban areas have top-ranked public schools where attendance is granted simply by your residency/domicile.”

Of course, there are downsides to that small town life. De Jong tells us that a lot of people love the entertainment and nightlife a city can give. Additionally, property values in cities are more likely to appreciate, so if you own a home in, or near, a big city, the investment could be worth it, lucratively.

De Jong says, “It’s worth noting that real estate value increases more quickly in metropolitan areas, which can also make owning property in a big city appealing.”

Plus, small towns, are, well, small. You often see the same people every day (so if you dislike them, tough luck). Entertainment, dining, and shopping can often times be limited. And if you do need to live in a city for work, living in a small town can be problematic.

But if you’ve thought things through and think it’s time for a change (or just feel like browsing for fun), take a look through our selection of the best small towns in every single state in the U.S. 

We defined a small town as one having a population of less than 20,000 based on the most recent Census data available, and our criteria included attractiveness in terms of what the town offers its residents (parks, shopping, landmarks, food options, etc.). We noted median home listing or value based on data from Zillow, as well as median rent, according to data from Best Places—most of the small towns we chose are less expensive than big cities, minus a few special gems.

Browse through the list, and if you think of towns we may have missed, feel free to let us know in the comments!

1. Monroeville, Alabama

Population: 5,927
Median home listing price: $124,500
Median monthly rent: $628 for a 2-bedroom

Monroeville is a quiet, idyllic town in the South that literature buffs may recognize as the inspiration behind Maycomb, a small Alabama town that serves as the setting for Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Aside from visiting the real-life courtroom depicted in the novel (the Monroe County Heritage Museum), Monroeville is filled with historical museums, beautiful trails and lush parks (Whitey Lee Park was erected in the 40s by the Vanity Fair Foundation, and it features a 5-acre lake, walking trails, and a community house). As for food, you can find anything from Mexican, barbecue (most notably the local-favorite Big D’s Butts ‘N Stuff), and seafood.

2. Sitka, Alaska

Population: 8,689
Median home listing price: $399,000
Median monthly rent: $1,253 for a 2-bedroom

If you really want to get away from the craziness of the city, Sitka, Alaska, may be the perfect location. You even need to take a boat or plane to get there! Sitka is located on Baranof Island, close to the most southern point of Alaska.

Even though Sitka is not so easy to get to, there’s still plenty to do; there’s a downtown area that offers great restaurants, bars, and galleries. If you’re an outdoorsy type, you can spend some time by the lake, go kayaking, or check out the gorgeous Sitka National Historical Park. For some great beer, people, and delicious food, head to Baranof Island Brewing Company.

Sitka is also well-known for its wildlife: the Fortress of the Bear is a three-quarter acre habitat for bears, and bird-lovers should visit the Alaska Raptor Center, a rehabilitation and habitat for bald eagles and other endangered birds. Another place to visit is the Russian Bishop’s House (it used to be an administrative center for Russian leaders, and part of the Russian Orthodox Church), one of the few buildings left over from Russia’s colonization period.

3. Sedona, Arizona

Population: 10,336
Median home listing price: $671,750
Median monthly rent: $1350 for a 2-bedroom

Best known for its wellness retreats and spas, Sedona is one of the most peaceful, scenic places in Arizona. Located between Coconino and Yavapai county, Sedona is surrounded by red sandstone formations and plenty of hiking trails (make sure to bring a camera to Red Rock State Park—the view is breathtaking).

There are plenty of shops and galleries at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, you can go on a wine tour at the Verde Valley Wine Trail, and treat yourself at one of the many Sedona spas, like the Enchantment Resort, or A Spa For You

4. Mountain Home, Arkansas

Population: 12,332
Median home listing price: $159,900
Median monthly rent: $715 for a 2-bedroom

You can find Mountain Home in Baxter County, which is tucked away in the Southern Ozark Mountains. It’s near several rivers, including Buffalo National River, North Fork River, and the White River.

While it’s fairly remote, there’s still plenty to do. There are many family-friendly parks like Cooper Park, which offers walking trails, a youth center, playgrounds, and more. Visit the Donald W. Reynolds Library on the weekend, and take your family and friends out for dinner at JoJo’s Catfish Wharf or the top-rated pizza joint, Tommy’s Famous A Pizzeria.  

5. Ferndale, California

Population: 1,373
Median home value: $367,700
Median monthly rent: $998 for a 2-bedroom

Ferndale, located in Humboldt County way up in Northern California, is one of the more affordable coastal towns in the state. The town is 12 miles from Eureka and north of the Lost Coast region.

If you’ve ever visited Ferndale, then you’ve probably noticed not a whole lot has changed (architecture-wise) since it was first settled in the 1800s. Locals and tourists alike love taking a stroll down the Victorian Village, where you can find beautifully preserved houses, shops, and restaurants.

The weather is always slightly cooler here, thanks to Ferndale’s coastal location. Visit Centerville Beach Park or drive up the Lost Coast Scenic Drive. For dinner, take your family and friends to the Eel River Brewing Company, which serves top-notch clam chowder and a wide variety of beers. Ferndale may be quaint, but it’s never boring.

Credit: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock
Main Street in Telluride, Colorado

6. Telluride, Colorado

Population: 2,426
Median home value: $913,800
Median monthly rent: $1,461 for a 2-bedroom

While Crested Butte and Vail are the more popular small-town destinations in Colorado, those can be overrun by tourists. Telluride is a quaint little ski resort town that has a lot of history. Many of the buildings from the mining boom era still stand, and it’ll make you feel like you’re living in a Western film.

Telluride has a downtown with shops and restaurants, including fine dining (like the Italian restaurant and wine bar Alpino Vino) as well as casual local eats, such as the Cornerhouse Grille. It’s also home to plenty of hiking trails (like the Jud Wiebe Trail) with scenic views. For those who love skiing, you can visit the Telluride Ski Resort for some fun time in the snow. If your perfect day consists of reading a good book and drinking a hot coffee, Between the Covers bookstore and coffee shop will be your haven.

7. Chester, Connecticut 

Population: 3,882
Median home listing price: $394,450
Median monthly rent: approx. $1,100 for a 2-bedroom

If you’ve always dreamed of owning or renting a home with deep historical roots, Chester might be the place for you. The town has prioritized the conservation of much of its original architecture, including homes as well as businesses.

Chester also has a lively art scene—it’s considered Connecticut’s #1 Art Town—which includes the Maple & Main Gallery of Fine Art, and countless studios. Take the Chester ferry, the Selden III, which brings you to Hadlyme. While Chester doesn’t exactly have the most wide selection for ethnic food, you can still grab brunch with friends at Turtle Cafe, or a fancy meal at River Tavern

8. Lewes, Delaware 

Population: 3,083
Median home listing price: $399,990
Median monthly rent: $1,350 for a 2-bedroom

Lewes was originally settled by the Dutch in 1631 and is known as “The First Town in the First State.” Lewes is located between Cape Henlopen State Park and the Great Marsh Preserve, so expect lots of water activities (it’s a seaside town). In fact, it immediately reminds us of Capeside, the fictional town where “Dawson’s Creek” is set.

There are plenty of historic buildings that have been well-preserved, like the Ryves Holt House, which was built in 1665 (it’s believed to be the oldest building in Delaware). Although Lewes has a small population, its community is rich with local cafes and restaurants, a farmers market, and plenty of shops. 

9. Matlacha, Florida

Population: 677
Median home listing price: $239,000
Median monthly rent: $1,066 for a 2-bedroom

Want to feel like you basically have your own private island? Matlacha is your closest bet. It’s one of five communities within Pine Island, and has a very old-school Florida vibe (i.e. vibrant buildings, seafood dining, and tons of beach activities like kayaking and paddle boarding).

Matlacha is also well-known for its art scene. Check out the Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens, or the Griffen American Center for Haitian Art. Want to try alligator? Visit the Old Fish House Marina Restaurant. And anywhere you go, it’s guaranteed you’ll find authentic Key lime pie. 

10. Blue Ridge, Georgia

Population: 1,407
Median home listing price: $390,000
Median monthly rent: $720 for a 2-bedroom

Blue Ridge offers small town delights like a drive-in movie theater—the only one in north Georgia. There’s a big art community, where you’ll find plenty of galleries and studios. Blue Ridge also has a small downtown district, where you can find shops, restaurants, and breweries (don’t sleep on Grumpy Old Men Brewery). During fall, you can visit the Mercier Orchards and go apple picking, and you should definitely visit the iconic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

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A rainbow of surfboards in Pa'ia, Hawaii

11. Pa’ia, Hawaii 

Population: 2,668
Median home value: $786,400 
Median monthly rent: $2,000 for a 2-bedroom 

If you want to move to or even just visit Hawaii, you just really can’t go wrong with any location—it’s all so beautiful it feels unreal, like a vacation that never ends. But the little historic town of Pa’ia is certainly special. It acts like the headquarters of Maui’s North Shore.

If you and your family love the beach, it’s considered to be one of the best beach towns in the world (Tavares Beach is a local secret). Locals love the Paia Fish Market for its fresh selection of seafood. Obviously the weather is a huge selling point: It’s warm year-round (although it does get a bit rainy sometimes).  

12. Hailey, Idaho

Population: 8,282
Median home listing price: $737,000
Median monthly rent: $995 for a 2-bedroom 

Hailey is located in Blaine County, in the Wood River Valley in the center of Idaho. Hailey is definitely big on community, with generations and generations of residential history. The small town holds events such as the Northern Rockies Festival and the Sun Valley Film Festival.

Nearby mountains are perfect for those who love hiking and skiing, and kayakers tend to head over to the Big Wood River as soon as it gets a little warmer. Residents and tourists go to Sawtooth for beers and good eats, but there are tons of food offerings in Hailey.

13. Galena, Illinois 

Population: 3,225
Median home listing price: $199,900
Median monthly rent: $697 for a 2-bedroom 

Galena is a small town in Northwest Illinois that’s known for its antique stores, as well as well-preserved 19th century architecture. In fact, if you love history, Galena is home to many museums and historical attractions, like Ulysses S. Grant’s home, and the Galena/Jo Daviess County Historical Society and Museum.

Galena is also surrounded by nature, so be sure to have a picnic at Thunderbay Falls and enjoy the waterfall and peaceful scenery. Aside from all the history that Galena has to offer, it also has surprisingly great dining scene, with beloved establishments, like the European Fritz and Fries (which touts itself as the town’s #1 restaurant), and steakhouse Fried Green Tomatoes, which as 4.5 stars out of nearly 1,900 reviews on TripAdvisor.

14. Beverly Shores, Indiana

Population: 605
Median home listing price: $540,500
Median monthly rent: $948 for a 2-bedroom 

While Pawnee may be our favorite small town in Indiana, unfortunately it doesn’t actually exist. Beverly Shores does, though, and it’s the ideal location for anyone who needs some peace and quiet.

Located right on the edge of Lake Michigan, Beverly Shores is extremely tranquil, yet within driving distance to Chicago if it ever feels too tranquil. Check out the Beverly Shores History Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Wieboldt-Rostone House for some culture and history.

15. Eldora, Iowa

Population: 2,653
Median home listing price: $72,700
Median monthly rent: $720 for a 2-bedroom 

If you live in Eldora, then you may feel like you’ve time-traveled into the past—in a good way! The historic buildings have been remarkably preserved, so there’s tons of historical site-seeing. If you really want lean into the vintage vibe, grab a sundae at the Ahoy Fountain, an old-school diner. There’s also the beautiful Pine Lake Park, as well as river tubing at the Rock-n-Row Adventures.

16. Abilene, Kansas 

Population: 6,380
Median home listing price: $122,000
Median monthly rent: $678 for a 2-bedroom

Abilene, which is located in Dickinson County, is a town that feels like it could have been plucked straight out of an old western flick. In fact, President Eisenhower was born here (if you’re a history buff, you can visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum). If it’s your thing, there are some saloons where you can watch reenactment of gunfights. As for food, Ike’s Place is known for its fried pickles, and the Brookville Hotel Restaurant offers a kitsch-y western vibe with good eats.

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Nelson County Courthouse in Bardstown, Kentucky

17. Bardstown, Kentucky

Population: 13,165
Median home listing price: $189,900
Median monthly rent: $698 for a 2-bedroom

Bardstown is considered one of the most beautiful small towns in America, per The Rand McNally. It’s also well known for its bourbon, featuring many local distilleries. Bardstown’s downtown offers many shops and good eats, such as Mammy’s Kitchen and Bar. Other things to do include visiting the Old Bardstown Village Civil War Museum for a bit of history, or the Bardstown Traders Mall for knick-knack shopping.

18. Grand Isle, Louisiana 

Population: 1,464
Median home listing price: $297,000
Median monthly rent: $930 for a 2-bedroom 

While New Orleans gets all the attention, there are plenty of underrated places in Louisiana you may not have even heard of. Like Grand Isle, for instance, which is actually the setting for Kate Chopin’s book, “The Awakening”. Grand Isle is perfectly isolated (it’s located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico), and is known for its seafood. Check out the Grand Isle State Park, or catch your own dinner with one of the many fishing tour guides available. 

19.  Bar Harbor, Maine

Population: 5,434
Median home listing price: $474,500
Median monthly rent: approx $1,000 for a 2-bedroom

Maine in general is one of those states that, no matter where you live, you’ll find peace and tranquility. Bar Harbor is especially beautiful, and definitely a summer vacation favorite for many East Coasters. Located on the northern side of Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor partly faced the Frenchman Bay and partly faces Acadia National Park. So, you get both water and forest. Bar Harbor isn’t known for its exciting nightlife, but you can go to the Criterion Theater to see live music. Wherever you go, you’re bound to find some of the best seafood in the U.S.

20. Chesapeake City, Maryland

Population: 693
Median home listing price: $325,000
Median monthly rent: $1,160 for a 2-bedroom

With a population of barely 700, Chesapeake City, located two hours from Washington, D.C., is definitely on the smaller side, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with charm and lush waterfront living that no big city can compete with. The Back Creek separates the north and south sides of town, and a handful of historical homes have been converted into B&Bs. On the weekends, go to the C&D Canal Museum, or have some drinks at Bayheads Brewing Company.

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One of Oak Bluffs' famous "gingerbread houses"

21. Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts 

Population: 4,678
Median home listing price: $869,000
Median monthly rent: approx $1,660 for a 2-bedroom 

Oak Bluffs, located on Martha’s Vineyard, is an idyllic town right on the edge of the water. If you’re looking for a peaceful East Coast island, this is it. Oak Bluffs is perfect for historic site-seeing, as its homes are some of the oldest in the country. Take a walk through the town’s Wesleyan Grove National Historic District to marvel at the colorful, and perfectly preserved, “gingerbread cottages.” Do a day trip at Inkwell Beach, or bring the family to Ocean Park, and grab a bowl of clam chowder (but you have to pronounce it “chowd-ah”) at Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company.

22. South Haven, Michigan

Population: 4,347
Median home listing price: $189,00
Median monthly rent: $730 for a 2-bedroom 

South Haven, which sits on the edge of Lake Michigan, has always been a port city, and it’s a popular summer vacation spot. North Beach is a gorgeous place to lounge in the sun during summer months, or simply go on walks any time of the year. If you have a thing for boats, the Michigan Maritime Museum is located in South Haven. Come fall, go apple picking at the McIntosh Orchards. Those who live an active lifestyle can go on walks or bike rides on the Kal Haven Trail.

23. Nisswa, Minnesota

Population: 2,034
Median home value: $265,800
Median monthly rent: $809 for a 2-bedroom

Nisswa, which is in Crow Wing County, is just about smack dab in the center of Minnesota—many miles from St. Cloud and even further from Minneapolis. But that’s what makes Nisswa a desirable place to live. Nisswa is surrounded by Gull Lake and Lake Hubert, so come summer you’ll find everyone—locals, and the thousands of visitors who flock to the town in warmer months—on the water (in the winter, folks go ice-skating). Nisswa may be a small town, but it has pretty much everything. Head to yoga class at Nisswa Yoga, or the Nisswa Family Fun center that features water slides galore. If you like working from coffee shops, check out the cozy StoneHouse Coffee & Roastery. And of course, when it snows, there are plenty of places to go sledding or tubing with the family.

24. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Population: 13,043
Median home price listing: $230,000
Median monthly rent: $740 for a 2-bedroom

This little Southern town is located on the Gulf Coast and only about an hour away from New Orleans, in case you need a rowdier getaway from time to time. But if you’re looking for tranquility and originality, Bay St. Louis offers an eclectic spin on the South. While the historic buildings have been well-preserved, the beach town boasts a thriving artistic community (visit the Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum; you might even be able to meet artists and owners Alice and Tim) and plenty of shops and restaurants, like The Blind Tiger, which has offers entertainment, drinks, and some of the best catfish in Mississippi. Bay St. Louis has been described as “magical,” and the kind of place you miss if you ever leave it.

25. Boonville, Missouri

Population: 8,432
Median home price listing: $119,950
Median monthly rent: $654 for a 2-bedroom

Nestled in Cooper County, this small midwestern town is several hours away from St. Louis or Kansas City. Boonville is drenched in history—it was the site of a Civil War battle and originally named after settlers Nathan and Daniel Boone.

For a taste of farming life, check out Warm Springs Ranch, where you’ll learn about the town as well as the ins and outs of owning a big barn (which is way more exciting than it sounds—it’s actually a crowd-pleaser, according to several tourist sites). Aside from the many historical landmarks, Boonville has beautiful trails (like the Katy Trail State Park) and homey diners that you’d expect from the Midwest.

26. Whitefish, Montana

Population: 7,608
Median home price listing: $567,500
Median monthly rent: $828 for a 2-bedroom

Whitefish is a resort town in the Rocky Mountains located north of Missoula, near the Canadian border. Although known as a ski town (and there is definitely plenty to do during the winter time if you love to ski or snowboard), Whitefish is also situated by a large lake (Whitefish Lake), as well as Glacier National Park. Go to the City Beach during summertime, or go hiking on the Whitefish Trail. Whitefish has its own farmers market, and lots of food options, such as the Buffalo Cafe & Nightly Grill which locals love for its amazing breakfast. 

27. McCook, Nebraska

Population: 7,540
Median home price listing: $152,950
Median monthly rent: $720 for a 2-bedroom

If you’re looking to escape to a quintessential midwestern town, McCook is a fantastic option. McCook is a friendly small town that’s especially perfect for families; Red Willow Recreational Area is made for fishing trips and picnics by the lake and several museums highlight the history of the area, such as the Museum of the High Plains Historical Society. McCook is anything but pretentious, so you can find plenty of low-key diners and local fast food eats, like Mac’s Drive In, or The Loop Brewery for some beers and pizza.

28. Ely, Nevada

Population: 3,968
Median home price listing: $129,000
Median monthly rent: $869 for a 2-bedroom 

When you think Nevada, Las Vegas is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But the state has much more to offer. Situated in White Pine County and at the base of the Great Basin National Park, Ely has a lovely community that takes great pride the area’s natural landscape. Aside from having endless outdoor activities (hiking, fishing, swimming, and more), Ely also has museums that celebrate its mining history and is home to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. For date night, go to the old-timey Central Theatre to see a movie, and stop by the Economy Drug and Soda Fountain for a classic banana split. Poodle skirt optional.

29. Hanover, New Hampshire

Population: 11,485
Median home price listing: $697,000
Median monthly rent: $1,022 for a 2-bedroom

Hanover, located in Grafton County along the Connecticut River, is best known as the home of Ivy League Dartmouth College. Due to the high population of students, there are many bars and places to eat and shop, as well as destination-worthy cultural institutions. Murphy’s On the Green is a cute pub that serves American food, but if you’re searching for more ethnic options, try out Base Camp Cafe, a beloved Nepalese restaurant. Hanover has many museums too, like Montshire Museum of Science, and the Hood Museum of Art.

30. Brielle, New Jersey

Population: 4,724
Median home price listing: $753,750
Median monthly rent: $1,980 for a 2-bedroom

Since it’s expensive to live in New York City (and prices are only going up), many people opt to move to New Jersey, where prices are a bit cooler, and it’s easier to find schools for their kids. Brielle, with its top-rated public schools, has everything a small town has to offer, and it’s only an hour-and-a-half commute to New York City. Located by the Manasquan River, Brielle is a breath of fresh air (literally), and allows families the room to take bike rides, go fishing, and participate in outdoor activities they otherwise wouldn’t be able to in a city like New York. Nearby is the Marina District, which has restaurants with lovely water views, along with local shops.

Credit: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock
The natural beauty of Taos, New Mexico

31. Taos, New Mexico

Population: 5,668
Median home price listing: $372,000
Median monthly rent: $873 for a 2-bedroom

If you love art, move to New Mexico. The small town of Taos is particularly special: Painter Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams both worked here, capturing the beautiful desert scenery. Take your camera to the Rio Grande Bridge, or check out the historical pueblo houses, Taos Pueblo, which have been around for a thousand years.

Nature lovers will love the stunning Williams Lake, which is perfect for hiking or a relaxing family day. There’s also never a shortage of good food. Locals love Bella’s Mexican Grill, and wine aficionados will need to try wine bar Parcht. Considering how (relatively) cheap it is to live in Taos, the quality of life is stellar.

32. Greenport, New York

Population: 2,230
Median home price listing: $712,000
Median monthly rent: approx. $940 for a 2-bedroom

Greenport, which is technically a village, is located in Suffolk County on the North Fork of Long Island. It’s a historic seaport where there’s something for everyone: the East End Maritime Museum for boat buffs, a local farmers market, and a variety of high-end to casual eats that won’t make you miss New York’s foodie scene all that much. Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market serves delicious seafood and has a wide drink selection, but you could opt for something more casual like Sterlington Deli, where you can grab a sandwich—their breakfast sandwiches are renown in the area. 

33. Beaufort, North Carolina

Population: 4,164
Median home value: $213,700
Median monthly rent: $869 for a 2-bedroom

Established in 1709, Beaufort still has an old world-y feel to it. The small town is right along the water, which makes it a big boating and fishing community. Many tourists and locals love taking their families to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, where you can learn a lot about the history of Beaufort. On the weekends, head to the farmers market, or get dressed up and go the City Kitchen, a high end seafood restaurant with a gorgeous ocean view. Wherever you go, you’re surrounded by water—which makes Beaufort one of the prettiest places in the U.S.

34. Wahpeton, North Dakota

Population: 7,826
Median home value: $138,200
Median monthly rent: $700 for a 2-bedroom

While North Dakota’s winters are some of the harshest in the U.S., there’s still a lot of beauty in this state. Wahpeton belongs in Richland County, right on the border of Minnesota, across the Red River from its “twin city” Breckenridge, MN, and south of Fargo. Wahpeton is home to the North Dakota State College of Science, so there’s a small student population living in the area.

Like many small midwestern towns, you might run out of food options eventually—but there are still many to choose from, including Mexican eatery El Toro, and Prantes, which is known for its delicious seafood. During the weekend, go to the Chahinkapa Zoo, or the Ringling Brothers Circus Memorial (which has a really sad story). There are many beautiful parks and trails in Wahpeton, so be sure to buy a bike if you plan on moving here.

35.  Marietta, Ohio

Population: 13,673
Median home price listing: $185,000
Median monthly rent: $682 for a 2-bedroom 

Rich with history, Marietta is the oldest settlement in the Northwest Territory. Visit the Campus Martius Museum, or the Ohio River Museum to learn about the town’s history, and tour The Castle, a gothic mansion built in 1855, for a taste of Victorian design. Even the restaurants are historic: The Buckley House, a high-end Mediterranean and seafood restaurant, is situated in an old home that dates to 1879, and the cozy Jeremiah’s Coffee House, where you can grab a latte or use the free WiFi to catch up on emails, is located in one of downtown’s historic rowhouses.

36. Nichols Hills, Oklahoma

Population: 3,887
Median home price listing: $968,500
Median monthly rent: $925 for a 2-bedroom

Nichols Hills is an affluent small town that was developed as an “exclusive” area for Oklahoma residents back in 1929. What makes it so special exactly? The community is tight-knit and has good public schools, according to Niche. The town is quiet and mostly residential—there’s not much for night life, but there are few great restaurants like Republic Gastrobub and Pearls Oyster Bar. Nichols Hills gets away with feeling rural yet offers its residents shops, restaurants, and parks. You’ll find serenity, but never boredom. 

37. Mosier, Oregon

Population: 458
Median home price listing: $322,500
Median monthly rent: $1,077 for a 2-bedroom

Mosier, is a really small town nestled in Wasco County. The location is ideal — it’s about an hour from Portland, and is settled up right next to Hood River. Surrounded by river, parks, and hiking trails, the lush location is perfect if you love the outdoors. Check out Cabin Creek Falls, or Mayer State Park. Grab some beers and dinner at Double Mountain Brewery, or use the beloved Doppio Coffee shop as an alternative to WFH. 

38.  Ridgway, Pennsylvania 

Population: 3,800
Median home price listing: $65,000
Median monthly rent:  Approx. $1,000 for a 2-bedroom

Located in Elk County in the northwest part of the state, Ridgway is a close-knit town with tons of recreational options. As the gateway to the Allegheny National Forest, Ridgway boasts dozens of trails for hiking and horseback riding and is close to numerous campgrounds. When you need a break from nature, there are tons of shops and galleries to visit as well. Locals love Joey’s Bakery, as well as Fox’s Pizza Den, which has been around for 44 years.

39.  New Shoreham, Rhode Island

Population: 1,036
Median home price listing: $1,275,000
Median monthly rent: approx. $1,060 for a 2-bedroom 

New Shoreham is better know by the name of the land mass it encompasses: Block Island. Accessible by ferries from Rhode Island or Montauk, NY, New Shoreham is only 10 square miles and takes pride in being the smallest town in the smallest state. It’s a very chill town, where most days are spent walking along the beach, or pulling up a chair in the sand to read a book.

And there are many beaches to choose from (there’s Mansion’s Beach, Fred Benson Town Beach, and Ballard’s Beach), and there’s also a lovely hiking trail, Clayhead Nature Trail, if you need a break from the water. Not surprisingly, New Shoreham has great seafood options, such as Finn’s Seafood, or Dead Eye Dick’s (yes, that’s the restaurant’s actual name). Prices are high here, as many East Coast city dwellers use New Shoreham for their getaway beach house.

40. York, South Carolina

Population: 7,888
Median home price listing: $282,400
Median monthly rent: $920 for a 2-bedroom

York is not only a stunning place for history buffs, but it’s a perfect town for family living. When peaches are in season, many go to The Peach Tree Orchards. During fall, a favorite spot in town is Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill. Go on a scenic hike through Nanny’s Mountain Trail, or check out The Sylvia Theater in the evening for live music or comedy shows. For dinner, make a reservation at the unassuming Italian Garden Restaurant or grab some Mexican food at Rosita’s Cafe

41. Deadwood, South Dakota

Population: 1,304
Median home price listing: $255,000
Median monthly rent: $890 for a 2-bedroom

While most towns in South Dakota are small towns (it’s one of the least-populated places in the U.S.), Deadwood stands out. First of all, Deadwood used to be the most well-known frontier town in both North and South Dakota (many settlers flocked to Deadwood during the gold rush, which you might remember from the titular HBO show). The buildings in Historic Old Town are super well-preserved—in fact, the entire town is listed on the National Historic Register—so you’ll see plenty of old Victorian buildings and saloons. Aside from the history, there are many shops and restaurants that line up in Historic Old Town. 

Credit: Brycia James/Getty
The Jack Daniels gift shop in Lynchburg, Tennessee

42. Lynchburg, Tennessee

Population: 6,411
Median home price listing: $259,900
Median monthly rent: Approx. $650 for a 2-bedroom

If you’re a whiskey person, Lynchburg is the place to be. Visit the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, or the Lynchburg Distillery, American Craft Distillery of Lynchburg. But the town has more to offer than whiskey, like beloved family-owned restaurants and shops, such as the Lynchburg Cake and Candy Company, or the renown Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant. If Lynchburg feels too quiet for you, Nashville’s country scene is only an hour and twenty minutes away.

43. Boerne, Texas

Population: 16,056
Median home price listing: $408,316
Median monthly rent: $1,240 for a 2-bedroom

Boerne, which is about a half-hour drive from San Antonio, has just about everything. That includes parks and nature centers (make Boerne City Lake Park your go-to for a picnic or walk), along with historical monuments, and best of all…barbecue! Locals love Smokey Mo’s BBQ and Fritze’s BBQ & Catering. Interestingly, Boerne is home to several caves, one called Cave Without a Name, and the other, Cascade Caverns, so hire a guide and go spelunking. 

44. Heber City, Utah

Population: 15,792
Median home price listing: $660,726
Median monthly rent: $1,033 for a 2-bedroom

Life in Heber City is lived outdoors. Located about a 45-minute drive to Salt Lake City, the town is home to Jordanelle State Park, Deer Creek, and Uinta National Forest—all perfect for those who love to hike or go camping. In town, make it a date at the Avon Theater, and grab dinner at Back 40 (known for its fresh, farm-to-table eats), or Snake Creek Grill, which looks like a vintage saloon and serves some of the best comfort food in Utah.

45. Chester, Vermont

Population: 3,154
Median home price listing: $263,400
Median monthly rent: approx. $1,000 for a 2-bedroom

Small, New England towns have a certain charm and beauty to them, and Chester, Vermont is no exception. The Green Mountain Flyer excursion train, for one, is definitely a kid-pleaser. Take the family on a rail tour, where you’ll enjoy a gorgeous train ride around Chester. Trains not your thing? Take a (literal) hike on the scenic The Lost Mine Hiking Trail. Comfort food hubs like Country Girl Diner and Southern Pie Cafe make up most of Chester’s food scene. 

46. Abingdon, Virginia

Population: 7,981
Median home price listing: $249,000
Median monthly rent: $700 for a 2-bedroom

Known as an artist community, Abingdon, situated 133 miles southwest of Roanoke, has plenty of galleries and shops for locals and tourists. Barter Theater, founded in 1933, has about 20 productions per year, ranging from comedies to musicals, and Holston Mountain Artisans, one of the oldest craft cooperatives in the country, sells locally made goods like quilts split oak baskets. Nature lovers will appreciate the 35-mile Virginia Creeper Trail that winds around Whitetop Mountain. As far as food goes, Abingdon offers American cuisine with a Southern twist, at locales like 128 Pecan or Rain Restaurant & Bar.

47. Chelan, Washington

Population: 4,146
Median home value: $279,700
Median monthly rent: $960 for a 2-bedroom

Chelan is arrestingly beautiful. That mean seem over-the-top, but we promise it’s not. Tucked into the Cascade Mountains on southeast tip of the turquoise waters of Lake Chelan, the town’s natural beauty is unmatched. So you can expect many activities to revolve around the lake, but the Chelan Valley is also a bourgeoning wine region, with over 30 wineries ringing the lake. Don’t skip Tsillan Cellars Winery, Nefarious Cellars, and Tunnel Hill Winery. For local shopping and healthy eats, residents love Bear Foods Natural Foods Market & Cafe Creperie, and Local Myth Pizza might just be some of the best pizza on the West Coast. 

48. Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Population: 602
Median home listing price: $224,900
Median monthly rent: Approx. $740 for a 2-bedroom

Berkeley Springs is a small mountain town located in Morgan County, right on the northern tip of West Virginia. Well known for its mineral springs and art galleries (there are supposedly at least 100 venues for locals and tourists to enjoy art exhibits), Berkeley Springs is near a variety of parks, including Berkeley Springs State Park and Cacapon Resort State Park where you and your family and friends can hang out by the lake. Washington, D.C. and Baltimore are only 100 miles away.

49. Cedarburg, Wisconsin

Population: 11,465
Median home listing price: $399,000
Median monthly rent: $900 for a 2-bedroom

Part of Ozaukee County, Cedarburg is only 20 miles away from Milwaukee, but with hiking trails and wineries—Cedar Creek Winery and Chiselled Grape Winery are local favorites—it feels worlds away from city life. The Cedarburg Cultural Center hosts art and history exhibits, as well as classes, concerts, and open mic nights. The first Friday of the month November through May, the Center hosts an art show kid’s craft show followed by musical performances and a cash bar. No small midwestern town is complete without its good beer offerings, and Cedarburg delivers with Rebellion Brewing.

50. Jackson, Wyoming

Population: 10,532
Median home value: $802,800
Median monthly rent: $1,209 for a 2-bedroom 

Jackson, which is located in Jackson Hole valley, is best described as a modern western town. There’s a good deal of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment options for locals and tourists. Animal-lovers will love Half Day Grand Teton Wildlife Safari, which is just one of the tours that highlight Wyoming’s wildlife. 

So, there you have it! Fifty of the best small towns in the U.S. We were bound to miss some gems—it was nearly impossible to put this list together, since there’s something to love in just about every small town in the country.

Even if saying goodbye to your big city apartment and moving to an isolated small town by the ocean or lake or in the mountains is merely a pipedream, it doesn’t hurt to browse, right?