Top 100 Best Small Cities in America 2023

Published: February 15, 2023
By the Pachyy Editorial Team
The Pachyy Editorial Team comprises a diverse and experienced team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts whose aim is to provide you with useful insights, guidance and commentary on all matters related to your personal finances.

Are you looking to relocate to a small city with an excellent quality of life? You’re not alone! With the rising trend of remote work and a growing desire for affordable living, many Americans are leaving cities in search of the best small cities in America to call home. 

To help you find the perfect spot, we conducted extensive research and compiled a list of the top small cities in America to live in. Our selection criteria focused on identifying towns that offer affordable living costs, ample employment opportunities, and an overall high quality of life that is well-suited for post-pandemic work life. 

Our list provides a definitive guide to the best small cities in America that offer opportunities for both personal and professional growth.

1. Stevens Point, WI - 100

Stevens Point WI

Ranked as number 1 on our list with a perfect score of 100, Stevens Point is a charming small city located in central Wisconsin, with a population of approximately 70,000 people. Notably, the city boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States, and over 20% of its workforce is made up of remote workers.

Home to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the city is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, including several parks and lakes that provide ample opportunities for recreation. The downtown area is a hub of activity, featuring a mix of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and breweries.

In summary, Stevens Point is a friendly and tight-knit community with a perfect combination of economic prosperity, beautiful surroundings, and a unique atmosphere that make it a highly desirable place to live.

2. Marinette, WI - 99

Marinette WI

Ranked second on our list of the best small cities in America is the Marinette, WI Micro Area, which comprises Marinette County, WI, and Menominee County, MI. 

With a combined population of around 65,000 people, this area boasts stunning natural beauty, with numerous parks, lakes, and forests providing abundant opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. 

The area’s economy is driven by several key industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, and education. Residents can enjoy a stable and thriving economy, with an unemployment rate of 2.3%, and low living costs. 

Overall, Marinette is an excellent place to live, work, and play, offering residents a high quality of life in a beautiful and welcoming community.

3. Indiana, PA - 96

Indiana PA

The Indiana, PA Micro Area, with a score of 96, is located in western Pennsylvania and includes Indiana County. With a population of approximately 85,000 people, the area is known for its beautiful scenery, including parks, hiking trails, and fishing streams.

The area’s economy is primarily driven by education, healthcare, and manufacturing. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania is located in the area, providing educational opportunities and an educated workforce. The unemployment rate in the area is relatively low and over 18% of workers work from home. 

Overall, the Indiana, PA Micro Area offers a unique combination of small-town charm, beautiful scenery, and economic opportunity, making it an ideal place to live, work, and raise a family.

4. Cape Girardeau, MO - 94

Cape Girardeau

The Cape Girardeau, MO Micro Area is a gem located in the heart of southeastern Missouri. As the fourth-ranked small city on our list of the best small cities in America, it scored an impressive 94 points. 

This charming and friendly community is home to Cape Girardeau County and Scott County, with a combined population of around 60,000 people. The area is rich in history, with a vibrant culture, and numerous attractions throughout the year. From the Mississippi River’s scenic beauty to the thriving downtown area, filled with unique shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, there’s something for everyone in Cape Girardeau. 

The area’s growing local economy is driven by a mix of industries, providing residents with an unemployment rate of just 3.3% and some of the lowest living costs in the US. 

Overall, Cape Girardeau, MO is a wonderful place to call home, with a welcoming community, a beautiful natural setting, and a thriving economy.

5. Manitowoc, WI - 93

Manitowoc WI

Manitowoc, WI is a little known treasure located in eastern Wisconsin, coming in fifth place on our list with a score of 93. 

The area comprises Manitowoc County, with a population of ~60,000 people. The community is known for its strong sense of tradition and history, as well as its stunning natural beauty. From the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan to the picturesque countryside, Manitowoc is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. 

The area is also home to a diverse range of locally-owned businesses, including cozy cafes, unique shops, and artisanal breweries, giving the community a welcoming and charming character. With a thriving manufacturing industry, Manitowoc boasts a low unemployment rate of 1.4%, affordable living costs and a high private healthcare coverage among workers.

Manitowoc is a great place to live, work, and play.

6. Farmington, MO - 92

Farmington MO

Farmington, MO micro area, located in the eastern Ozark foothills of Missouri, is a wonderful small city with a score of 92. The area comprises St. Francois County and boasts a population of approximately 68,000 people.

With its rolling hills and beautiful natural surroundings, Farmington provides residents with a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. The area is also known for its excellent wineries and local farm-to-table cuisine, making it a foodie’s paradise.

Farmington has a growing and diversified economy, with top industries including healthcare, education, and retail. The unemployment rate in the area is just 2.8%, close to 30% of workers can commute to work in less than 10 minutes, and the cost of living is very affordable.

With a high quality of life, a thriving economy, and a charming small-town feel, Farmington, MO is a fantastic place to call home

7. Columbus, IN - 91

Columbus IN

Columbus, IN micro area – coming in at number 6 on our list of best small cities in America with a score of 91, is a charming and welcoming community located in southern Indiana with a population of 80,000 people.

The city is known for its stunning architecture, having been home to several notable architects. Columbus is also home to a variety of parks and green spaces, including Mill Race Park, which features a scenic walking trail and a unique splash pad. 

The city’s vibrant downtown area offers a mix of locally-owned shops and restaurants, as well as several art galleries and theaters. The areas economy is driven by several industries, providing residents with stable employment opportunities, resulting in one of the highest median household incomes in the country ($74,000).

Overall, Columbus, IN is a wonderful place to call home, with a strong sense of community, a rich cultural heritage, and a thriving economy. It’s no wonder that Columbus has become one of the best small cities to live in, in America.

8. Olean, NY - 89

Olean NY

Olean, NY, coming in at number 8 on the list with a score of 89, is a charming micro area located in western New York. The area comprises Cattaraugus County and has a population of approximately 76,000 people.

The area boasts a rich cultural heritage, with several historic sites and museums, including the Olean Public Library and the Cattaraugus County Museum. The area is also known for its scenic beauty, with several parks and forests that offer hiking and outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

The local economy is robust, , with healthcare, education, and manufacturing among the top industries. The area has a low unemployment rate of 4.7%, an affordable cost of living, and has a high proportion of workers are on private medical plans.

Overall, Olean is a welcoming and friendly community that values its history, natural beauty, and economic growth. The area’s residents take pride in their community, working together to make it a great place to call home.

9. Shawnee, OK - 88

Shawnee OK

Shawnee, OK micro area comes in at 9th place on our list, scoring 88 out of 100. 

This friendly community located in central Oklahoma offers its residents a high quality of life and a wide range of recreational activities. The area has several parks, lakes, and golf courses that provide ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. 

The town is also home to several historical sites and museums, including the Santa Fe Depot Museum and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art. Shawnee boasts a diverse economy with a mix of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, and education. 

With a cost of living that is well below the national average, and high private healthcare coverage among employed residents, Shawnee is an affordable place to call home. Overall, Shawnee, OK Micro Area is a great place to live, offering residents a small-town feel with all the amenities of a larger city.

10. DuBois, PA - 88

DuBois PA

DuBois, PA Micro area is a friendly and welcoming community that ranks 10th on our list with an impressive score of 88. 

The area offers a high quality of life with an array of amenities for its residents. It is home to several beautiful parks, including Treasure Lake, which provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking. The town also boasts several excellent restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a great place for food and shopping enthusiasts.

In addition to its scenic beauty and recreational activities, the area has a strong economy, with a mix of industries including healthcare (Penn Highlands DuBois, which is the largest employer in the area), education, and manufacturing. 

With a low cost of living, the area is an affordable place to call home. The friendly locals and community events make DuBois, PA Micro area a great place to live and raise a family. 

Results

Data used to compile our list and score each area is taken from the US Census Bureau. In determining our scores, we considered a multitude of variables covering i) income, ii) healthcare coverage, iii) working & commuting habits and iv) cost of living. 

Below is table summarizing the most important variables contributing to our overall score for top 100 micro areas / cities in the US (not available on  mobile). 

City / Micro AreaPopulationHousehold Median Income% Employed Residents Working From Home% Employed residents with less than a 10 minute commuteUnemployment Rate% Employed residents with private healthcare coverageMedian House Value Median monthly owner costs (incl. mortgage)Median monthly owner costs (excl. mortgage)Score / 100
Marinette, WI-MI65,17458,27611.1%25.4%2.3%87.5%127,2001,019389100
Stevens Point, WI70,46865,92820.9%27.8%3.1%89.8%190,1001,29350999
Indiana, PA82,88652,02318.5%23.7%5.1%80.0%121,9001,09342896
Cape Girardeau, MO-IL96,45660,72617.1%19.6%3.4%82.1%174,6001,17244994
Manitowoc, WI81,50557,91813.3%23.0%1.4%84.9%163,5001,11045593
Farmington, MO67,54147,68213.6%27.0%2.8%81.5%147,10097339192
Columbus, IN82,47573,56423.2%24.7%4.5%87.1%191,1001,30344391
Olean, NY76,42655,15315.9%26.4%4.7%74.1%96,5001,08845489
Shawnee, OK73,01951,45113.7%21.4%4.1%75.9%145,2001,17738788
DuBois, PA80,08255,19315.3%21.6%5.2%80.2%114,8001,06844788
Pocatello, ID97,64560,47515.5%26.4%3.8%78.4%250,4001,28138988
Findlay, OH74,65664,02414.6%20.6%4.1%85.5%168,7001,19052788
Russellville, AR83,94444,41016.5%23.5%4.3%79.9%155,80098432287
Warsaw, IN80,10665,54012.7%25.3%2.3%80.6%180,2001,13843387
Dubuque, IA98,71875,59017.7%25.9%3.8%89.0%200,7001,36556086
Frankfort, KY75,71762,12220.9%14.8%4.8%83.7%185,9001,22840585
New Philadelphia-Dover, OH92,50058,06011.0%21.0%3.4%76.7%158,8001,13941285
Cumberland, MD-WV94,58651,44015.4%15.5%5.0%81.6%149,5001,08837285
Enid, OK61,92660,72111.5%27.3%3.5%75.7%143,7001,15642585
Baraboo, WI65,69770,91413.7%26.5%3.3%85.2%217,0001,37354584
Paducah, KY-IL99,49861,87014.9%22.5%3.8%78.9%159,5001,18043183
Watertown-Fort Atkinson, WI84,94368,31918.9%18.9%4.5%86.2%241,4001,48660882
Beaver Dam, WI89,31365,77312.2%20.7%2.5%88.5%191,6001,33656282
Greenwood, SC69,24152,6368.9%18.7%4.1%85.2%135,5001,10534182
Cullman, AL89,49655,5178.6%17.3%2.5%85.4%165,9001,17339882
Auburn, NY75,88063,51114.8%24.6%3.5%82.4%164,5001,35059082
Wisconsin Rapids-Marshfield, WI74,07052,62715.5%26.0%5.1%84.7%158,6001,14546181
Richmond, IN66,45650,13813.7%23.2%4.8%78.7%120,50093738979
Rexburg, ID67,45559,72917.4%36.2%3.2%82.1%326,4001,31043578
Sunbury, PA91,26650,75117.5%16.5%5.9%85.5%144,5001,16341478
Faribault-Northfield, MN67,26267,26718.5%29.7%4.3%80.4%270,7001,63553276
Fort Payne, AL71,81341,80010.2%17.1%2.4%68.8%111,10099932375
Somerset, PA73,62754,35218.3%22.2%7.8%82.6%115,30099444975
Keene, NH77,32967,34418.5%21.6%3.7%80.6%245,0001,59977074
New Castle, PA85,49759,53622.2%19.5%8.5%81.8%141,8001,17146974
Grand Island, NE76,17561,7498.3%24.0%1.3%79.5%186,6001,28446974
Mount Airy, NC71,15251,95011.7%15.8%5.2%79.5%152,0001,03231873
Plattsburgh, NY79,59660,28514.9%23.3%4.9%88.0%148,3001,28449673
Adrian, MI98,95661,25718.7%23.4%6.7%85.2%172,0001,22349372
Quincy, IL-MO74,32357,02016.4%28.3%6.9%85.9%144,1001,09545972
Clarksburg, WV90,54651,39316.7%13.8%6.4%76.8%124,20096633071
Midland, MI83,45767,70725.1%19.3%6.0%85.2%172,6001,29456171
Great Falls, MT84,51157,70611.2%28.1%3.8%77.3%226,6001,30744070
Marquette, MI66,10355,30113.8%27.9%4.8%87.4%184,0001,14744970
Rome, GA98,77160,82511.8%16.2%2.8%75.9%178,9001,22247570
Lake City, FL70,38554,07716.0%10.4%5.5%77.8%173,8001,21534269
Helena, MT84,88165,63820.2%19.2%4.8%87.3%320,5001,60750669
Greeneville, TN70,62156,48813.8%15.6%6.8%81.2%169,2001,03031769
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA82,95957,04617.0%20.7%4.8%92.9%197,8001,29651968
Parkersburg-Vienna, WV88,18154,28415.1%13.2%6.1%80.0%139,70089931167
Meadville, PA83,35155,59315.7%20.0%8.0%81.6%129,4001,00642767
Casper, WY79,55563,60511.4%18.1%3.9%83.3%243,8001,50344466
Minot, ND77,17870,59810.6%26.0%4.1%86.3%230,0001,53649866
Sandusky, OH74,85258,40316.0%23.3%6.7%80.6%168,4001,11552064
Elmira, NY83,04560,21918.3%23.4%6.8%82.7%128,6001,19651763
Carson City, NV58,99365,33014.8%24.7%5.2%78.2%393,5001,62845562
Albertville, AL98,22850,19115.3%20.1%8.1%82.7%156,6001,07433262
Marion, OH65,29148,91913.6%27.4%6.7%82.2%130,1001,03641962
Sevierville, TN99,51750,23915.5%9.7%5.0%74.3%234,6001,14132762
Kokomo, IN83,68755,08816.8%21.6%8.5%83.2%151,1001,03237961
Searcy, AR77,20751,40213.0%27.2%7.4%79.7%150,8001,00733160
Zanesville, OH86,40851,17310.8%13.0%5.8%74.4%142,3001,02940760
Brainerd, MN97,90962,23520.1%20.3%7.2%73.1%249,3001,39347458
Wilson, NC78,36947,20114.0%16.6%5.4%73.2%141,4001,22439057
Athens, TX83,66749,83017.0%19.4%6.6%71.3%152,2001,26539857
Corning, NY92,94857,37815.4%23.9%7.3%80.7%123,7001,23949457
Heber, UT79,266115,18824.9%27.2%2.9%92.3%724,2002,38769357
Marion, IN66,26349,40119.6%24.2%10.2%75.1%108,90097040657
Glenwood Springs, CO81,08486,77218.1%11.8%3.5%78.6%482,9002,04159656
Morehead City, NC68,54162,90720.0%14.9%7.0%77.6%266,3001,52146356
Pine Bluff, AR86,74746,82619.0%13.2%8.8%77.8%115,2001,07038654
Talladega-Sylacauga, AL81,52445,06317.3%14.6%9.5%89.1%103,4001,02037353
Aberdeen, WA76,84154,63122.6%24.2%7.2%78.2%271,1001,48847552
Hermiston-Pendleton, OR93,96259,60815.1%27.6%6.5%75.2%242,1001,31948051
Ashtabula, OH97,33746,77114.9%17.4%8.9%76.2%134,0001,00443051
Chillicothe, OH76,89150,39515.8%13.0%6.5%79.6%154,7001,21846450
Jefferson, GA80,28672,11618.9%10.2%6.1%82.1%304,3001,46254450
Lewiston, ID-WA64,85157,61010.8%30.8%4.6%78.1%289,9001,38646549
Danville, IL73,09549,09116.1%13.0%7.6%76.7%79,70095940248
Seneca, SC79,20350,39317.9%15.6%9.0%76.8%189,2001,07336748
Shelton, WA67,61577,07023.6%13.9%6.2%77.5%360,7001,68455148
Stillwater, OK81,98949,34815.6%27.7%5.6%79.2%198,7001,47541048
Muskogee, OK66,14643,43716.3%16.0%7.8%69.5%120,3001,06736146
Orangeburg, SC82,96234,68517.2%14.0%8.1%77.6%93,1001,12235945
Statesboro, GA82,44257,65623.3%22.1%10.5%73.9%171,1001,26434145
Ocean City, NJ95,66178,65721.0%17.8%6.0%85.9%365,1002,11381245
North Wilkesboro, NC65,80643,93321.2%11.6%11.1%73.4%150,70097430745
Meridian, MS96,82941,46111.2%9.8%6.7%81.4%107,2001,08136544
Portsmouth, OH73,34640,52216.5%23.9%9.4%76.0%107,8001,14342842
Roanoke Rapids, NC65,47035,61820.7%27.1%16.0%82.2%95,2001,11438342
Centralia, WA84,39865,04721.0%17.5%8.5%79.8%330,5001,63150342
Hinesville, GA79,37149,73315.5%15.8%7.0%74.4%161,4001,24339640
Oak Harbor, WA87,43276,50522.5%29.3%7.0%87.6%470,4002,02162340
Lufkin, TX86,50650,04512.5%18.4%6.0%59.6%136,0001,29845840
Key West, FL82,17068,56320.0%27.5%2.7%64.8%661,4002,81773439
Laurel, MS82,72841,01212.4%9.8%8.4%72.9%101,30096230536
Fairbanks, AK95,59372,14913.5%12.1%4.8%80.1%265,9001,85171136
Opelousas, LA82,07138,59918.9%17.5%11.9%60.0%130,7001,03828834
Port Angeles, WA78,20962,69520.5%26.8%9.3%74.9%365,1001,57455634
Somerset, KY65,42344,56114.4%17.3%11.2%70.4%146,2001,13933833