The Best Small Cities to Live in America

City life is too busy for some; the countryside is too spread out and suburbs too small. Finding the perfect place to live is a delicate process, but Americans are ever searching. And we all have our own criteria, whether it’s a town to retire, a place to live while on a budget at school, the prestige of a pricey ZIP code, an up-and-coming neighborhood or a nice community. Well the search is a little easier.
Money Magazine has ranked the best places to live of America’s small cities. The overall top small cities (pop. 50,000 to 300,000) had what, according to, American families care about: “strong job opportunities, great schools, low crime, quality health care, and plenty to do. And they're true communities too.”
All in all there are 12 lists on In addition to the overall top 100, the site ranked the top 25 cities for affordable homes, pricey homes, top-earning towns, job growth, fast commutes, slow commutes, hottest, coldest, rich and single, youngest and clean air.
For some prospective homeowners there could be one factor (say, job growth or affordable homes) that matters more than the others. These top 25 lists reveal random facts about the small cities. For instance, Hoboken, N.J. has the highest percent of singles on the rich and single list; and while the slowest commute goes to Palmdale, Calif., Manhattan, Kansas has the shortest commute at only 11.2 minutes.
Here are the top 10 best places to live of America’s small cities:
10. Chapel Hill, N.C.

One of many murals around town.

Pop. 59,000
Part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, which has one of the highest numbers of Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. That may make sense since this is the location of the nation’s oldest public university — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill