The Best & Worst Small Cities in America

Brittany Jones-Cooper

If big city life has you down, consider the simplicity of something smaller. (Photo: Thinkstock)

New York City never sleeps, but what if you’re tired?

What if the hustle and bustle becomes annoying and the constant serenade of sirens throws you into a downward spiral? If New York, or any other major city has you feeling this way, we have one solution — it’s time to head to a small city.

Bigger isn’t always better, and the benefits of living in a small town are virtually unmatched. It’s cheaper, the commutes are shorter, and there is space…wonderful space!

Given the facts, it’s no surprise that more and more people are ditching major cities for their smaller alternatives. In fact, Wallethub reports that small cities are experiencing growth at a rate that is more than twice that of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

To help you pinpoint exactly which small city would be worth the move, Wallethub compared 1,268 U.S. cities with a population between 25,000 and 100,000. The data measured 22 key metrics ranging from housing costs to school-system equality and restaurants per capita.


Princeton, N.J. is home to Princeton University and is just over an hour from New York City. (Photo: Thinkstock)

If small town life is what you’re craving, perhaps Princeton, N.J. is just what you’re looking or. This city ranked 1st in economic health, 7th in education/health, and 41st in overall quality of life. For those still seeking the big city culture, New York is less than 1.5 hours away by car — so it’s like having the best of both worlds.

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Littleton, Colo. came in 2nd place, ranking 54th in education/health, and 28th in overall quality of life. Oh, and the city is absolutely stunning, so that helps too. Rounding out the top three is Dublin, Ohio, which ranked 171st in affordability.


Bell, Calif. looks pretty, but the quality of life ranks poorly compare to other small cities. (Photo: Mortis24/Wikipedia Commons)

Naturally, there are a few small cities that you probably want to avoid. Not all of the worst small cities are created equal, but according to this study, they are all created in California.

The top 13 worst small cities in America all in the Golden State. The worst of the worst is Bell, Calif. which ranks 1,249 in economic health, and 1,215 in affordability. Upon further inspection, we found that about 30 percent of its residents live below the poverty line, and the median household income is just $35,985.

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Huntington Park, Calif. came in as the second worst, ranking 1,268 in education/heath. And Bell Gardens, Calif. rounded out the trifecta, ranking 1,228 in affordability.

We’ve listed the top ten best and worst small cities from Wallethub’s study below, but here is the full list if you don’t see your hometown represented.

The best small cities in America:

1. Princeton, N.J.

2. Littleton, Colo.

3. Dublin, Ohio

4. Brookfield, Wis.

5. Leawood, Kans.

6. Southlake, Tex.

7. Westfield, Ind.

8. Northampton, Mass.

9. Ankeny, Iowa

10. Crystal Lake, Ill

The worst small cities in America:

1. Bell, Calif.

2. Huntington Park, Calif.

3. Bell Gardens, Calif.

4.Compton, Calif.

5. Lynwood, Calif.

6. Maywood, Calif.

7. South Gate, Calif.

8. Watsonville, Calif.

9. Delano, Calif.

10. Paramount, Calif.

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