Avoid Dangerous Cities: These 25 Best Small to Mid-Size Cities Have 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.

How Did We Pick These 25 Best Places To Live?

father and young sons in the best places to live in the us
Image Credit: Unsplash.

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

aerial view of madison wisconsin
Image Credit: Shutterstock / marchello74

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

Historic Michigan Theater, built in 1928, located on East Liberty St in Downtown, Ann Arbor
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Paul Brady Photography

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

Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Overland Park, Kansas
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cindy Lee

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 Kansas City received high marks. Overland Park offers a lot, from a killer barbeque scene to an extensive botanical garden and large employers like T-Mobile.

4. Frederick, Maryland

Historic Downtown Frederick Maryland sign in downtowan area.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / George Sheldon

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

The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA USA
Image Credit: Shutterstock / ImagineerInc

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

Aerial view of Weymouth Fore River and Fore River Bridge in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. This new bridge was finished in 2018.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Wangkun Jia

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

Aerial shot of a street intersection in Hillsboro, Oregon. Red fall trees along streets highlighted with setting sun. Fallen leaves create circles around trees. Bright fall colors
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bandersnatch

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

Downtown Roseville sign in Vernon Street when entering historic district.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / ZikG

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

Broadmoor hotel on lake in Colorado Springs
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

No list of best places to live is complete without Colorado Springs, home to the iconic Broadmoor, 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

Mt Saint Helens, the columbia river, a boat mooring facility and fall color trees in Vancouver, Washington.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bob Pool

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

Corvallis is the location of Oregon State University, a large Hewlett-Packard research campus, and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / cpaulfell

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

street view of raleigh north carolina
Courtesy Deposit Photos

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, 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

omaha downtown
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Esme

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

Rochester is a Major City in South East Minnesota centered around Health Care
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Boomsma

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

Fall Colors in the City, Walkway, Columbia, Maryland
Image Credit: Shutterstock / KhanIM

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 of the best places to live in terms of quality of life.

16. Franklin, Tennessee

Downtown Franklin TN Aerial Shot of the Square
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jason Schultz72

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

An aerial drone photo of a sunny summer day in Plano Texas next to a river park with a car driving on the street
Image Credit: Shutterstock / topshootfilm

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

aerial view of Lincoln, Nebraska
Courtesy Deposit Photos

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

road leading through trees to asheville nc
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

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

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Image Credit: Shutterstock / jackiekuehlphoto

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

10-19-2019 Bloomington USA - University of Indiana - Family walks with college student out main gates of campus down into the town during Fall Break weekend
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vineyard Perspective

Bloomington is one of the top places to live in the U.S. when it comes to the outdoor scene. With forests and lakes galore, plus the youthful energy and intercultural curiosity of Indiana University, Bloomington is another Midwestern gem.

22. Framingham, Massachusetts

A Beautiful Morning of Autumn in Framingham Massachusetts
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Luis Enrique Torres

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

Mount Rainier over Tacoma Washington waterfront during alpenglow sunset evening
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Thye-Wee Gn

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 suburban neighborhoods, substantial job opportunities, and the arts and culture the region is known for.

24. Boise, Idaho

people in restaurants in downtown boise
Image Credit: Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau

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

Brightleaf Square shopping center near downtown Durham, which includes restuarants and specialty retail shops in renovated tobacco warehouses
Image Credit: Shutterstock / zimmytws

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.

Best Places To Live in the US

girl ziplining at family friendly california wineries

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 article originally appeared on Savoteur.

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Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.