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These Are America’s Best Small Cities to Move To

If you like the idea of city life, but just want it in a smaller package, these 10 small cities are just what you’re looking for.

Randy Nelson

Content Manager

116 articles, 53 comments

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In the past year, Movoto Real Estate has ranked cities of all sizes across a variety of criteria—some serious and some decidedly not. Recently, we took a look at the 10 best suburbs in the country, but these were mostly larger cities centered around the 25 biggest metro areas in the nation. For our latest ranking, we’re going smaller in scale and shedding some light on the 10 best small cities in America to move to.

Based on our survey of various criteria and crunching of data, we’ve concluded that Rowlett, TX is the best small city in the U.S. for those looking to make a move. This suburb of Dallas, TX tops a list of 10 cities with populations under 60,000 that includes:

1. Rowlett, TX
2. Idaho Falls, ID
3. Cedar Park, TX
4. Noblesville, IN
5. Hendersonville, TN
6. Mansfield, TX
7. North Port, FL
8. Bartlett, TN
9. Tinley Park, IL
10. Moore, OK

What Makes a Superior Small City

We created this list based on demographic and other data we collected about 100 cities with populations under 60,000. Six criteria in total were surveyed:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime
  • Median household income
  • Unemployment rate
  • Median home price
  • Homes for sale per capita

To search these, we turned to the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, FBI, and our own real estate market data. The cities were first ranked from 1 to 100 in each individual criterion, with 1 being best, then these scores were averaged to produce a final ranking.

Below, you’ll find details on the economy, crime, and housing markets of each city to give you more insight into why they ranked so highly.

1. Rowlett, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: City of Rowlett, TX

Like we mentioned earlier, Rowlett is a suburb of Dallas. Its 57,703 resident earn a median household income of $82,466—56 percent more than the national average.

Crime in Rowlett is quite low at 42 percent below the national average, something that no doubt helps its residents sleep soundly in their homes, which cost about 19 percent less than the average for the rest of the U.S. at a $161,400 median list price. There is one home on the market in the city for every 164 people who live there.

Rowlett’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate is 12.5 percent below the national average.

2. Idaho Falls, ID

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Flickr user Eric Fredericks

Known as Eagle Rock until 1891, Idaho Falls isn’t a stranger to “best places to live” lists. In the case of our ranking, the city really stood out in terms of its cost of living, which at 12 points below the national average is the best of any city in our top 10.

The city’s crime rate, at 5 percent less than the U.S. average, isn’t nearly as good as Rowlett’s, however. Its median home price of $126,000—37 percent below the national average—is better though, as is its ratio of one home for sale for every 92 people. The city’s 57,899 residents bring home less than their counterparts in top-ranked Rowlett, though, managing a median income of $46,161, or 13 percent below the national average.

The 5.6 percent unemployment rate in Idaho Falls is 22 percent below the average for the rest of the nation.

3. Cedar Park, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: City of Cedar Park, TX

We head back to Texas for our No. 3 on the ranking, Cedar Park. Located near Austin, TX—in fact, Cedar Park also appeared on our ranking of best suburbs in the country—the city has the lowest crime rate in this top 10 ranking at 51 percent below the national average.

Cedar Park’s median household income of $70,914 is 34 percent above the average for the rest of the country, and at $258,000 its median home price is 30 percent above the associated average. With one house on the market for every 182 residents, it might be harder to find a home there compared to our top two small cities.

At 5.2 percent, Cedar Park has the second-lowest unemployment rate in our top 10; it is 28 percent below the national average.

4. Noblesville, IN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Wikipedia user Derek Jensen

Located not too far from Indianapolis, IN, Noblesville and its 55,075 residents are situated in the middle of America’s Corn Belt.

Crime in this small city is 38 percent below the national average, which comes at a bit of a premium as the cost of living is seven points more than the average for the rest of the country. Household income, however, is also above average by 27 percent at $66,936. Noblesville’s median home price is six percent below the national average at $186,300 and there is one home on the market for every 84 residents there.

The unemployment rate in Noblesville is 11 percent less than the national average at 6.4 percent.

5. Hendersonville, TN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Flickr user chiph42

Nashville, TN suburb Hendersonville has a population of 53,080 residents who make 18 percent more than the rest of the country in terms of median household income at $62,627. The cost of living there is eight points below the national average. Crime is considerably lower at 37 percent below average.

In terms of housing, Hendersonville’s median home price is 25 percent above the national average at $249,900 and there is one available home on the market for every 101 residents.

As for unemployment, it is currently at 6.5 percent, which is 9.7 percent below the national average.

6. Mansfield, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Wikipedia user Jeremiahjr

The third small Texan city in our top 10, Mansfield is technically a suburb of Fort Worth, TX—although it’s equidistant to Dallas—and has a population of 59,317. It’s also the most competitive housing market in our ranking with one home for sale for every 239 residents. The price of its homes is 12 percent above the national average at $225,000.

Once you have a home there, you can expect low crime—it’s 43 percent below the national average—and a cost of living that’s 3 percent above what it is for the nation on average. The median household income in Mansfield is the highest above average in our top 10; at $91,959 it is 74 percent above average.

Mansfield’s unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is an impressive 25 percent below the national average.

7. North Port, FL

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Flickr user Stacie DaPonte

Once a part of Port Charlotte, FL, North Port became its own city in 1974. Now its 58,378 residents enjoy a cost of living that’s 10 points below the national average, although the median household income there is actually 10 percent below average at $47,655.

Finding a home in North Port is actually easier than anywhere else on our top 10, as there is one available home for every 40 residents. The median price of its homes is $139,900, which is 30 percent below the national average. Its crime rate is 16 percent less.

In terms of employment, North Port’s unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, which is 2.7 percent above the average for the rest of the U.S.

8. Bartlett, TN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: Flickr user Thomas R. Machnitzki

The second city in Tennessee in our top 10, Memphis, TN suburb Bartlett has a population of 55,945 and is known for its historic plantation homes. Its crime rate is 47 percent below the national average, while its median household income is 41 percent above at $74,514.

The median home price in Bartlett is 10 percent below average at $179,900 and there are 173 residents for every home that’s on the market.

As one of three cities in our top 10 with higher than average unemployment rates, 7.3 percent of Bartlett’s residents are out of work, a number that’s 1.4 percent above the national average.

9. Tinley Park, IL

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: City of Tinley Park, IL

Named a best place to raise a family by Businessweek in 2009, Tinley Park made our top 10 thanks in no small part to the fact that its crime rate is nearly 50 percent below the national average. Its safe citizens—57,144 of them—also earn a median household income that’s 45 percent above the national average at $76,605. Its cost of living is six points above the national average.

Housing-wise, homes in Tinley Park cost seven percent below the national average at $184,900 and there is one home for sale for every 127 residents.

The unemployment rate in Tinley Park is the highest in our top 10 at 8.2 percent, which is 14 percent above the national average.

10. Moore, OK

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Source: City of Moore, OK

While the 57,810 residents of Moore have to contend with tornadoes, the people who live in this Oklahoma City, OK suburb also have to be a bit more concerned with crime. That’s because the city has the only above average crime rate in our top 10 at 45 percent above the national average. Fortunately, some other factors help even things out.

For one, the cost of living in Moore is 10 points below the national average, and the median household income, at $55,710, is 5.6 percent above. The median home price is 37 percent below average at 128,000 but there are 169 residents per home for sale.

A real positive standout for Moore is its unemployment rate, which at 4.3 percent is an impressive 40 percent below the national average.

(click to enlarge)

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posted on: November 12, 2013
163,819 views, 8 comments

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8 Comments

  1. DJ Kelly

    In all fairness, I would point out that Bartlett TN has a very large senior/retiree population, as well as a large number of stay-at-home parents-so the “unemployed” data might be misleading.

    • Clyde in response to DJ Kelly

      Unemployment statistics are people that are looking for work. Stay at home parents and retirees are not counted as unemployed.

  2. Shirl

    Lived in Rowlett since 1964 and it is my home. Love it.

  3. Brad

    “In the past year, Movoto Real Estate has ranked cities of all sizes across a variety of criteria—some serious and some decidedly not. Recently, we took a look at the 10 best suburbs in the country, but these were mostly larger cities centered around the 25 biggest metro areas in the nation. For our latest ranking, we’re going smaller in scale and shedding some light on the 10 best small cities in America to move to.”
    Every one of the top 10 in this article is a suburb of a larger city. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? How is this any different?

  4. Clyde

    I wouldn’t live in any of those places on a dare.

  5. J.J. Carlson

    This is kind of misleading. I live right by Cedar Park and would never consider it a small city. The reason is because it is a suburb of Austin, so it’s essentially Austin. It’s not located near Austin; it really just is Austin.

  6. Stacie DaPonte

    Cooooolll thanks for using my photo of North Port! :)

  7. CAROLE JAMES

    I HAVE LIVED IN FLORIDA FOR THE LAST 20 OR SO YEARS BUT GA IS ALWAYS ON MY MIND. BORN THERE (THOMASTON) BEAUTIFUL LITTLE TOWN, WENT TO UGA, BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS AND LIVED IN HOTLANTA FOR SOME YEARS. WOULD GIVE ANYTHING TO STILL BE THERE! HUSBAND FROM FL., WENT TO FL. A BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS ALSO AND WE NOW JUST MOVED TO LAKELAND. IT SEEMS MORE OUR STYLE. SMALLER TOWN. SON GRAD OF FSU AND THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS, GREAT SCHOOL AND CLOSE TO GA. HE HAS LIVE IN FL MOST OF HIS LIFE SO HE LOVES IT. IN ORLANDO NOW WITH TWO KIDS AND WIFE. MY GRANDKIDS AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW ARE NATIVES ALSO. GEORGIA ON MY MIND” HAS TO BE THERE IF YOU ARE FROM THERE! AMEN!!!!!!”

 

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