Best Places to Live on the East Coast

From Maine to Florida, there’s no denying that the East Coast offers a variety of cities and cultures to choose from. Whether you’re looking to advance your career or trying to find a place to retire, there’s something for everyone in this diverse part of the country. Here’s a closer look at some of the best places to live on the East Coast, no matter what stage of life you might be in!

Ashburn, VA

Several cities in the Washington, DC metro area could have been included on this list, but Ashburn stands out among its peers. At $125,900 per year, Loudoun County has the highest median household income in the country (though with this higher income also comes a higher cost of living).

Ashburn has long been known as the headquarters of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, but its increasing prominence as a global tech hub has led to rapid job growth. The town’s data centers process approximately 70% of the world’s internet traffic, and Verizon Business and Telos serve as major employers, ensuring continued economic growth in the years ahead.

Ashburn is relatively close to Washington, DC, but residents also enjoy convenient access to many of the more rural areas of Loudoun County, which preserve the region’s historic routes. Walking and biking along the Potomac River or exploring Oatlands Plantation make for great outdoor activities.

Boston, MA

Boston may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of beach-friendly living, but the city has consistently been ranked as one of the country’s best coastal cities.

Revere Beach was actually the first public beach in the United States, opening in 1896. This beach is far from the only historic attraction Boston has to offer, with other sites like the Old Corner Bookstore and Symphony Hall showcasing the area’s rich past.

Boston also consistently ranks among the most powerful economic cities in the world. Several major companies call the Boston area home, including W.B. Mason, Marshalls, and Cisco Systems.

You’ll find much more than history and employment in Boston. Popular events during the year include the First Night First Day New Year’s Eve celebration and Boston Early Music Festival. Boston is also home to some of the most successful sports teams in the world, including the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox.

Charleston, SC

Having been ranked as one of the best cities in the entire world, Charleston is an obvious inclusion for any list of the best places to live on the East Coast.

Charleston is best known for its charming historic district and top-quality restaurants, but what really sets the city apart are the people. A key part of the city’s worldwide acclaim is a direct result of the friendliness of its inhabitants.

Several other cities in the Charleston metro have also become noteworthy in their own right, such as Mount Pleasant, which boasts a median income well above the state average; and Daniel Island, a small island community featuring over 400 acres of parks and a fun variety of boating activities.

Though tourism continues to drive the area’s economy, commercial shipping, and information technology services have also ensured new growth for the region. Major IT companies like Blackbaud are choosing to call the Charleston area home, leading to an increased demand for skilled tech workers.

Charlotte, NC

Not to be outdone by its southern neighbor, North Carolina also features one of the country’s best cities. Charlotte was actually the fastest-growing city in the country in a recent ten-year span, experiencing a whopping 59.6% population growth.

Much of Charlotte’s growth is the result of an economic boom in the region. Charlotte’s largest employers are in the financial sector with Bank of America and Wells Fargo each employing tens of thousands of workers. Several other Fortune 500 companies call the Charlotte area home, including Duke Energy, Lowe’s, and Sonic Automotive.

Of course, there’s more to do in Charlotte than work! The Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets offer plenty of fun for sports fans. Events like the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Taste of Charlotte give residents plenty of entertainment options throughout the year.

Clifton, NJ

As part of the New York City metropolitan area, residents of Clifton have easy access to the many amenities that the city has to offer—but with a few added perks of its own.

Clifton is notable for its low crime rate, which is 38% below the national average. Strong employment that offers above-average income levels also makes this area highly desirable for those considering a New York-area move.

Those who need to commute into NYC aren’t left without options, as Route 46 and Garden State Parkway are both easily accessible. Whether you need to get to work or wish to catch a play on Broadway, you won’t have to travel too far!

Clifton is also unique in its diversity. One study ranked it as the third-most linguistically diverse city in the United States, making it a great place for those wishing to learn about and interact with other cultures.

Johns Creek, GA

For parents concerned about a quality education for their children, few cities are better suited for the task than Johns Creek. Not only do the majority of adult residents in this city hold a bachelor’s degree, but the local schools consistently rank among the best in the state and nation as well.

Located in the Atlanta area, residents also benefit from the region’s thriving job market. Top employers that call the area home include Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and The Home Depot.

In addition to ever-popular amenities like restaurants and movie theaters, the city hosts several festivals throughout the year. Favorite local events include the Fall Family Festival, the Taste of Johns Creek food festival, and Founders Week.

Manchester, CT

Manchester may be one of the smaller cities on this list, but that doesn’t diminish the high quality of life that you’ll find in this Connecticut town.

Located in the Greater Hartford area, Manchester residents enjoy an average commute of just 22.9 minutes, ensuring that you won’t have to spend your precious hours stuck in traffic. Median home prices are also quite inexpensive. At $167,700, housing costs are well below both national and state averages.

With a population just under 60,000, Manchester also offers plenty of small-town charm that reflects the farming roots of the area’s first settlers, who arrived in 1672. The city’s Scottish heritage is kept alive with the Manchester Pipe Band, one of the oldest pipe bands in the United States. There’s also the Manchester Road Race, which attracts over 10,000 participants each year.

Portland, ME

Approximately one-third of Maine’s population calls the Portland area home. Tourism and financial services serve as major employment providers for the region. In fact, Portland has one of the best jobs markets in the country with some of the country’s lowest unemployment rates.

As you might expect, the city’s northern location results in cooler temperatures and an increased likelihood for snowfall—however, this keeps summers mild and pleasant.

Portland offers a variety of activities that appeal to families and young professionals alike. Visitors to the city’s Arts District will find the Portland Museum of Art and several local art studios, as well as the Portland Stage Company and the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Several parks and historic sites can also be found in the area, such as the Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse.

St. Augustine, FL

First settled by the Spanish in the 1500s, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States.

However, its thriving economy and pleasant climate continue to make it one of the best places to live on the East Coast today. The city is estimated to see 40.3% job growth in the next ten years, putting it ahead of the national average.

Though summers can get somewhat hot and humid, winters are especially mild, with highs remaining the 60s and 70s, allowing residents to enjoy the beach at almost any time of year.

As the oldest city in the country, it should come as no surprise that St. Augustine is home to a variety of historic sites. Some of the most popular attractions include Castillo de San Marcos National MonumentFort Matanzas National Monument, and Fort Mose Historic State Park.

The Villages, FL

The Villages often appears at the top of lists of best East Coast retirement cities, and for good reason. The vast majority of this census-designated area is comprised of an active adult retirement community, and as a result, the town has one of the highest median ages in the country at 67.4.

Because of this large retirement community, The Villages is home to many amenities designed to improve the quality of life for its older residents. The city is home to several golf courses that are free to community members and recreation centers that provide swimming, horseshoes, bocce, tennis, and other activities. Biking and walking trails are also popular among residents.

The city even enjoys its fair share of entertainment! The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center has hosted Willie Nelson, Kenny G, The Beach Boys, and other popular performing artists.

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Top 10 East Coast Cities