Home News These are the best small cities of 2023, study says

These are the best small cities of 2023, study says

These are the best small cities of 2023, study says

(NEXSTAR) – Living in a big city can have its perks, like a shorter commute or more entertainment and dining options. But for some, the thought of living in a bustling big city can be overwhelming. 

Rest assured, there are numerous smaller cities that can be equally as attractive. 

After analyzing nearly 300 small cities — with populations ranging from 65,000 to 100,000 — personal finance site SmartAsset ranked each based on access to entertainment establishments, dining options and healthcare facilities, as well as housing costs, poverty rates, unemployment rates and commute time using data made available by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Arlington Heights in Illinois came in No. 5 on the list.

Overall, cities in two states, Washington and Michigan, ranked among the most livable cities. This was largely thanks to lower housing costs as a percentage of income, lower unemployment rates, and lower rates of residents living below poverty. 

Nearly every region of the U.S. was represented in the list of the top 10 most livable cities in SmartAsset’s analysis. Excluded was the South — Alpharetta, Georgia was the highest-ranking Southern city, ranked No. 13 overall. 

Topping the list was Redmond, Washington, a city of roughly 73,000 people located 15 miles east of Seattle. According to SmartAsset, the city’s low rate (1.93%) of residents without health insurance bolstered Redmond’s spot at No. 1, along with its low housing costs (when compared to median income) and its accessibility to bars. 

Neighboring Sammamish, Washington, claimed the No. 2 spot. Roughly 67,000 people call the city home, according to Census data. Less than 3% of the population lives below the poverty level or lacks health insurance, SmartAsset found. Another Seattle suburb, Kirkland (once home to Costco headquarters), ranked No. 7.

Three Michigan cities also ranked among the top 10, the highest being Novi, No. 3 overall. The Detroit suburb had the third-lowest unemployment rate of all cities analyzed. Nearby Farmington Hills and Troy landed at No. 8 and No. 10, respectively. Troy tied for its spot with Queen Creek, Arizona. 

The 10 most livable small big cities in the U.S., according to SmartAsset, are: 

  1. Redmond, Washington
  2. Sammamish, Washington
  3. Novi, Michigan
  4. Newton, Massachusetts
  5. Arlington Heights, Illinois
  6. Palo Alto, California
  7. Kirkland, Washington
  8. Farmington Hills, Michigan
  9. Maple Grove, Minnesota
  10. Queen Creek, Arizona, and Troy, Michigan

Cities in the Midwest and the Northeast largely dominated three of the main categories in the study. 

Lakeville, Minnesota, located 20 miles south of Minneapolis, had the lowest housing costs as a percentage of median income at 15.3%. The city had the second-lowest rate of residents below the poverty level at 1.7%, slightly more than top-ranked Highlands Ranch, Colorado at 1.4%. Nashua, New Hampshire, had the best unemployment rate at 1.2%, edging out Ellicott City, Maryland at 1.4%. 

Alternatively, cities in the Texas and California had among the worst rates across the aforementioned categories. 

San Marcos, Texas, found roughly halfway between Austin and San Antonio, had the highest housing costs per income at just over 43%. Pharr, Texas, located along the Mexico border, had a poverty rate among residents of 42.5%. Two California cities, Tulare and Merced, had the worst unemployment rates at 9.7%. 

SmartAsset’s full list can be found here

Value other aspects of the city you live in? Other recent analyses have ranked cities based on the weather, the costs of goods and services, walkability, school quality, and more. 

One report by Niche found Cambridge, Massachusetts (not far from SmartAsset’s No. 4 ranked Newton), to be the most livable city based on “excellent” public schools and access to bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. 

Another by U.S. News and World Report crowned Green Bay, Wisconsin, as the best place to live, thanks in part to its attractions and outdoor activities.


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