California? Boston? Ohio?
With nearly half of the population saying that they’d prefer to live in a suburban area, a new report on 2022’s Best Small Cities in America, could help you decide by the end of this year.
To help Americans put down roots in places offering good quality of life and affordability, WalletHub compared more than 1,300 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 across 43 key indicators of livability. They range from housing costs and school-system quality to restaurants per capita and the crime rate.
|Top 20 Small Cities in America|
|1. Lancaster, PA||11. Milton, MA|
|2. Carmel, IN||12. Sammamish, WA|
|3. Fair Lawn, NJ||13. Dublin, OH|
|4. Lexington, MA||14. Brookfield, WI|
|5. Brentwood, TN||15. Leawood, KS|
|6. Melrose, MA||16. Apex, NC|
|7. Zionsville, IN||17. Arlington, MA|
|8. Needham, MA||18. Burlington, MA|
|9. Portland, ME||19. Newton, MA|
|10. Westfield, IN||20. Princeton, NJ|
Best vs. Worst
- Los Altos, California, has the highest median annual household income, $240,094, 11.4 times higher than Isla Vista, California, the city with the lowest at $21,018.
- Crofton, Maryland, has the lowest share of the population living in poverty, 1.00 percent, which is 70.9 times lower than Isla Vista, California, the city with the highest at 70.90 percent.
- Isla Vista, California, has the fewest average hours worked per week, 23.70, two times fewer than Fort Hood, Texas, the city with the most at 47.30.
- Castle Rock and Parker, Colorado, have the lowest share of adults in fair or poor health, 8.90 percent each, which is 4.1 times lower than in Eagle Pass, Texas, the city with the highest at 36.90 percent.
What are the benefits of living in a small city versus a large city? What are the drawbacks?
“Smaller cities often have more affordable housing prices and shorter, cheaper commutes (if one owns a car). A drawback of smaller cities is that they have fewer job opportunities than large cities,” said Nick Finio, Ph.D., associate director & assistant research professor, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, University of Maryland, College Park.
“You end up having far more cash, usually, but have access to fewer cultural opportunities. Less car traffic but also no mass transit,” said Sonia Hirt, dean, and professor at, University of Georgia.
Will small cities grow in popularity following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic?
“They already have been and there is evidence of this. It is unclear if this trend will continue now that the country is moving past the pandemic,” Finio said.
“I do not believe we know what the long-term effects of the pandemic are on mass psychology. Initially, evidence suggests that small towns are perceived as more attractive. But whether this is long-term, I do not know,” Hirt said.
What can local policymakers do to attract and retain new residents in small cities?
“Continue to allow for ample construction of new, more affordable housing. This will continue to pull people away from large metros,” Finio said.
To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit.