These Are the 15 Best Places to Move to in the U.S. (Before They Get Too Crowded)
These fascinating small cities and burgeoning big towns across the United States offer great green spaces, myriad recreational opportunities, thriving downtowns, and active local communities—not to mention reasonable real estate prices—making them the perfect destinations to set up house and put down roots. But hurry, it’s only a matter of time before they get discovered (and overcrowded and overpriced).
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Although you may not have heard of this sweet spot in the Midwest, Food & Wine recently designated Fort Wayne one of the nation’s “hipster hotspots” for it’s up and coming food scene, and a new LendingTree study found it to be one of the “Most Popular Cities for Millenial Buyers.” Even with these accolades though, it’s still very much flying under-the-radar, meaning it’s affordable to purchase a home here, and there are a plethora of other attractions, including the nation’s top-ranked minor-league baseball park, a booming brewery scene, award-winning chefs, and cool music scene (it’s even nicknamed the “Midwest Music City”).
Twice voted “Best Town Ever” by Outside Magazine, Chattanooga is also one of MagnifyMoney’s top 10 “Best Cities to Be Young and Broke,” attracting a youthful influx of new residents who are interested in the live music, flavorful and diverse cuisine, eclectic art scenes, and stunning nearby natural areas. The city has gone through what it’s calling a “glow-up” over the past few years, with the development of hotels and new restaurants and attractions. The city’s entertainment hub, home to the recently restored Chattanooga Choo Choo Complex, houses attractions including Songbirds Guitar Museum and The Comedy Catch, and other popular attractions like Rocky City Gardens, Ruby Falls, Bluff View Arts District, and Tennessee Aquarium. These are the best-kept secrets in every state.
Historically famous as the birthplace of Elvis, the small northeastern Mississippi city of Tupelo is now also known as an amazing place to live. Forming a triangle with Memphis and Nashville, Tupelo shares a lot of similarities with the two booming cities—including an incredible musical scene, culinary hot spots, and rich history—but unlike its two unchecked growth neighbors to the north, Tupelo has retained all of its character, charm, and, happily, low prices. Here are the best small towns to retire.
Located just 30 minutes north of Indianapolis in Hamilton County, Carmel was ranked one of the best places to live in the nation by Town & Country for its picturesque setting, top-rated schools, charming mom-and-pop shops, and bustling artistic community. With a population under 90,000, the small city features a variety of life-enriching activities including the Carmel Arts & Design District; The Center for the Performing Arts with internationally-renowned concert hall, The Palladium; and hundreds of miles of walking/biking trails including the Monon Trail, a pedestrian highway for cyclists, runners and dog walkers alike.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
If you’re looking for the quintessential main street, Ann Arbor should be at the top of your list; it’s actually where Bob Seger grew up and the charming Midwestern town is what his “Mainstreet” song is about. Ann Arbor also offers a unique blend of Midwestern rural charm and cosmopolitan urban offerings, including great live music venues and top museums. It’s a college town—home to the University of Michigan, one of the eight original “public Ivies,” and nearby Ypsilanti is home to Eastern Michigan University—which offers another layer of unique cultural attractions, shopping, fine dining, and nightlife. Find out 20 of the most beautiful Main Streets in America.
State College, Pennsylvania
One of the fastest growing, most educated, and safest college towns in America, Forbes named State College the third best college town in America and ranked it highly for business and careers, noting its below-national-average cost of living. Maybe even a bigger draw: Psychology Today declared State College to be one of the least stressful places to live in the entire country. Located in Central Pennsylvania, the region, often called “Happy Valley,” is surrounded by some of the country’s top outdoor hiking, biking, and fly-fishing experiences. From the natural wonders of Penn’s Cave, the country’s only all-water cavern to the unassuming Columbus Chapel, which houses the most significant collection of Christopher Columbus artifacts in North America, State College is a four-season destination with outdoor adventure, world-class culture, unexpected history, and storied local traditions.
Just 90 minutes west of Chicago, Rockford’s small-town charm and unsuspecting, cultural, culinary, and outdoors spaces make it a fun, noteworthy destination for those looking for a truly off-the-beaten-path experience. Among its many charms, you can spend time at one of the nation’s oldest internet cafes, wakeboard at a cable-run wake park, and stroll through one of North America’s top Japanese gardens. Early settlers dubbed Rockford “Forest City,” and nearby are more than 10,000 acres of natural land for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. The town also recently launched a new convention center, and it’s home to nearly a dozen museums, including the top-ranked family Discovery Center.
Santa Margarita, California
California dreaming at its finest, this rural community is a stomping ground for acclaimed farm-to-table dining, wine tasting, and craft beer. Santa Margarita Lake offers a chance to explore by boat or kayak, and the quaint downtown area offers a true small-town feel with quiet cafes, friendly artisans, and local boutiques. Santa Margarita is located just 15 minutes from the more well-known city of San Luis Obispo (offering all the perks of a larger city) and 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Warm spring and summer days are cooled by coastal evening breezes, making Santa Margarita a fantastic place to truly enjoy the picturesque landscape.
Salt Lake City, Utah
According to a new LendingTree study, the youngest business founders in the country can be found in Salt Lake City. The area, known as “Silicon Slopes,” encompasses the Salt Lake City metropolitan area and nearby cities; it is home to billion-dollar tech companies such as Overstock.com, PluralSight, and Qualtrics. It’s easy, however, to get away from the new booming businesses; just five minutes away are several hiking trailheads and there are six ski resorts within a 45- to 60-minute drive, you can even see the dramatic mountains from pretty much any spot in the city. Downtown is walkable, boasts great restaurants (including one of the best sushi spots in the country) and has a surprising amount of culture for what was once considered the “Wild West” including Ballet West.
Although it may be best well know as a spot to find the best barbecue and jazz around, there are plenty of exciting happenings in this charming Midwest city that make it attractive as a place to move to. Running daily through downtown, the KC Streetcar is modern, sleek, and a totally free form of public transportation that can take you to some of the city’s hottest neighborhoods including Power & Light and Crossroads Arts District, all while you stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi. KC was named one of the most exciting food cities in America by Zagat last year and it’s also the first Google Fiber City, but compared to other up and coming cities, Kansas City is still priced very reasonably. Find out 15 of the most underrated U.S. cities worth a visit.