The 31% of Americans who live in cities with relatively small populations do so for various reasons. They appreciate more elbow room, shorter commuting times and fewer degrees of separation, according to a new report from WalletHub, a personal finance site.
Affordability is one of the best advantages of living in a small city, the report said. Take an example from the Economic Policy Institute: The cost of living for a two-parent, two-child family in Hanford, California, would be $6,517 per month, compared with $13,252 for the same family in San Francisco.
Of course, living in small urban areas requires trade-offs, such as shorter business hours and fewer restaurants. And no two small cities are the same.
In order to find out which ones stand above the rest, WalletHub compared 1,321 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 across these five dimensions:
Affordability, including median household income, cost of living and homeownership rate
Economic health, including population growth, income growth and median credit score
Education and health, including school system quality, share of insured population and limited access to healthy foods
Quality of life, including average commute time, number of attractions and parks per capita
Safety, including violent crime rate, property crime rate and drug poisoning deaths per capita
Researchers then evaluated the five dimensions using 45 relevant metrics, grading each one on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for small-city residents.
See the accompanying gallery for the 12 best small cities in America, according to WalletHub’s analysis.