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Best East Coast Cities

Best Places to Live on the East Coast in 2024

Looking to move to the East Coast? Whether you’re hoping to advance your career in a new city or trying to find a place to settle down for retirement, there’s something for everyone along the eastern side of the country. Here are some of the top places to live on the East Coast!

Ashburn, VA

  • Population: 49,692
  • Home Price: $458,00 median purchase price, $1,763 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 79% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.5%

Nestled in the Washington, DC metro, Ashburn is an affordable place to live on the East Coast. This suburban Virginia town offers quick access to Dulles International Airport and job opportunities in telecom and tech with major employers like Verizon Business and Telos—in fact, the majority of the world’s internet traffic passes through Ashburn! In addition, if you love getting outdoors and exploring nature, you’ll never be bored in this DC area suburb, as there are tons of outdoor activities along the Potomac River and at Beaverdam Reservoir.

Things to Do in Ashburn

Go fishing in the creek or walking on the nature trails at Ashburn Park. Hop in your kayak or canoe at Beaverdam Reservoir and explore on the water. Become a member at Belmont Country Club and go golfing, enjoy lunch in the clubhouse, or take a dip in the swimming pool. Enroll the kids in a skating class or join an adult swim league at Ashburn Ice House. Have an experience like no other at iFly and try out indoor skydiving. Head to Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm for Elote Loco, Hanger Steak, or Trout Parmesan. Make reservations at DC Prime Steakhouse and get some Oyster Rockerfeller, Filet Mignon, and Seared Sea Scallops. Or find your new favorite craft brew like the Hop Camo IPA Black Ox Porter at Old Ox Brewery.

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Boston, MA

Boston Harbor Filled with Boats During the Day. Photo by Instagram user @rlonpine

Photo via @rlonpine

  • Population: 658,279
  • Home Price: $423,200 median purchase price, $1,369 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 14% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.5%

With rich history and ever-growing career opportunities, it’s easy to see why Boston is one of the best major East Coast cities to live in! Beantown consistently ranks as one of the best cities to live and work in and is home to several major companies like W.B. Mason, Marshalls, and Cisco Systems. And while you may not think of Boston as a beach city, it’s home to Revere Beach, the first public beach in the U.S., so you can definitely spend some time on the water. And if the beach isn’t your thing, Boston is also one of the top cities for outdoor recreation with tons of spots for rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, and more!

Things to Do in Boston

Cheer on the New England Patriots (NFL), the Boston Red Sox (MLB), and the Boston Celtics (NBA). Visit the Boston Public Garden, the first botanical garden in America, where you can see over 80 species of plants. Shop three floors of books and magazines at Brattle Book Shop. Get tickets to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall. Celebrate the city of Boston with live music and a parade during Boston Harborfest. Try different seafood dishes at Saltie Girl like Sea Urchin, Rock Crab Carbonara, and Clam Chowder. Enjoy Thai bites like Boat Noodle, Kiew Tod, and Street Fried Rice at DAKZEN. Or relax with craft cocktails like the Passionfruit Mule, Espresso Martini, or Mezcal Me Maybe at Yvonne’s.

Charleston, SC

St. Michael's Church in Charleston, SC. Photo by Instagram user @mikehabat

Photo via @mikehabat

  • Population: 129,888
  • Home Price: $269,400 median purchase price, $1,052 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 29% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.0%

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. The Holy City is best known for its charming historic district and top-quality restaurants, as well as being one of the most romantic cities in the U.S. 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.

Things to Do in Charleston

Enjoy a picnic and take in views of the water at Waterfront Park. Plan a day at Sullivan’s Island Beach for some fishing, kayaking, and sailing. See sea turtles, jellyfish, and more at the South Carolina Aquarium. Head to The Charleston Museum to learn more about the city’s history. Walk down East Bay Street to see the iconic colorful homes known as Rainbow Row. Have an elevated southern dinner at Lenoir, where you can try Blueberry BBQ Chicken Wings or Cornmeal Dusted Catfish. Get some waffles or the Steak & Eggs from Millers All Day. Feast on a Pulled Chicken Sandwich with a side of Charred Broccoli at Poogan’s Smokehouse. Or check out High Water Distilling Co, where you can tour the distillery and try small-batch, hand-crafted spirits.

Charlotte, NC

  • Population: 808,834
  • Home Price: $178,000 median purchase price, $966 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 5% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.1%

Not only is Charlotte one of the top places to live on the East Coast, but it’s also one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. Recently, the Queen City has also experienced significant population growth, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country! Much of Charlotte’s growth is the result of an economic boom in the region, with large employers in the financial sector like Bank of America and Wells Fargo employing tens of thousands of workers. And if you’re looking for a city with good dining, shopping, and nightlife, you’ll love everything that Uptown Charlotte has to offer!

Things to Do in Charlotte

Cheer on the Carolina Panthers (NFL) at Bank of America Stadium or the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) at the Spectrum Center. Visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame and see exhibits like the Hall of Honor and the Racing Simulator. Spend a day riding the 57 rides like the Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds. See performances from Jack Harlow, Phoebe Bridgers, and many others at The Fillmore Charlotte. Enjoy weekend brunch at Haberdish and try a Homemade Cinnamon Roll, Chicken Biscuit Sandwich, or the Quiche Du Jour. Head to Crispy Banh Mi Sandwiches and Cafe for Summer Rolls, a Classic Cold Cut Banh Mi, and Vietnamese Coffee. Dig into the Bay Scallop Ceviche and other fresh seafood bites at Fin and Fino. Or down some brews like the Jalapeno Pale Ale, or Rewind Lager at Birdsong Brewing Co.

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Jacksonville, FL

Street View of the Jacksonville, FL Skyline. Photo by Instagram user @904happyhour

Photo via @904happyhour

  • Population: 856,616
  • Home Price: $140,000 median purchase price, $955 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 9% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.6%

Searching for a good big city to live in on the East Coast? Consider moving to Jacksonville, Florida’s most populous city! Not only does J-ville offer extremely affordable housing compared to other major cities in Florida, but it’s also home to Naval Station Mayport, one of the best military bases in the U.S. for families. Plus, the weather here is unbeatable, with average high temperatures of 80 degrees—so get ready to spend your days outdoors at the amazing beaches in Jacksonville! Jax also offers an array of family-friendly activities from pro-sporting events and community festivals to zoos, museums, and more!

Things to Do in Jacksonville

Sunbathe, build a sandcastle, or fish at the pier at Jacksonville Beach. Watch the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) play at TIAA Bank Field. Take the family to see African elephants and Florida manatees at Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. Visit the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History to see interactive exhibits like the Atlantic Tails, Hixon Native Plant Courtyard, and Space Science Gallery. Shop handmade jewelry, local artwork, fresh fruits and vegetables, and food truck eats at Riverside Arts Market. Order a Caribbean Pitaya Bowl or North Jetty Smoothie from FLA Juice and Bowl. Pick up massive burritos like the Honey Sriracha Shrimp or California Chorizo Burrito from Burrito Gallery. Or throw back some cocktails like the Mass Appeal, Pisco Punch, or Painkiller No. 2. at Sidecar.

Johns Creek, GA

View of the Chattahoochee River in Johns Creek, GA. Photo by Instagram user @e.j.creates

Photo via @e.j.creates

  • Population: 82,930
  • Home Price: $348,600 median purchase price, $1,370 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 87% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.0%

Located about an hour outside of Atlanta, Johns Creek is an amazing city for families on the East Coast! This Atlanta suburb has plenty of local schools that consistently rank among the best in the state and nation, such as Wilson Creek Elementary School and William & Reed Academy. In addition to ever-popular amenities like restaurants and movie theaters, the city hosts several family-friendly festivals throughout the year, including Fall Family Festival, Taste of Johns Creek, and Founders Week. Not to mention, living in Johns Creek means you’re close to ATL job opportunities with companies like Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, and The Home Depot!

Things to Do in Johns Creek

Head to Newtown Dream Dog Park and spend some time with your furry friend. Go hiking and explore 46 acres of nature at the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center. Enroll your kids in a ceramics, drawing, or writing class at Johns Creek Arts Center. Hit golf balls on the driving range or schedule a tee time at River Pines Golf Course. Enjoy a night out watching the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra. Eat a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Nicoise Salad, or check out one of the daily specials at Taste…A Seasonal Bistro. Have So-Cal-inspired eats at Mavericks Cantina, where you can try the Grilled Avocado or Pineapple Habanero Mahi Mahi Tacos. Get dinner and drinks like the Meatball al Sugo, Fusilli Primavera, and a Basil Mojito at Sugo. Or sit outside at Six Bridges Brewing while enjoying local brews like the Shelby Golden Ale and Medlock IPA.

Manchester, CT

Aerial View of Manchester, CT. Photo by Instagram user @i_am_pugal

Photo via @i_am_pugal

  • Population: 30,364
  • Home Price: $167,700 median purchase price, $1,087 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 42% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.9%

Manchester may be one of the smaller cities in Connecticut, but it offers an exceptional quality of life. Located in the Greater Hartford area, Manchester residents can enjoy budget-friendly housing that falls below both national and state averages, as well as quick commutes into the city. Silk City is full of small-town charm that reflects the farming roots of the area’s first settlers, and its residents are proud of the area’s Scottish heritage—which you can see kept alive with the Manchester Pipe Band, one of the oldest pipe bands in the U.S.

Things to Do in Manchester

Head to the annual Manchester Road Race, which attracts over 10,000 participants. Play disc golf, explore the aviary, or walk through one of the botanical gardens at Wickham Park. Head up to Case Mountain and spend the day hiking or biking the six-mile trail and taking in views. Enjoy the interactive exhibits like the Farm Exhibit and Children’s Art Gallery at the Lutz Children’s Museum. Audition for a show at the Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall. Grab breakfast from Cosmic Omelet, where you can order Alligator’s Cosmic Omelet, Irish Benedict, or Reese’s Cup Pancakes. Try the Risotto Balls, Sicilian Pizza, or Homemade Meat Lasagna at Filomena’s Pizzeria. Check out plant-based bites like Fried Cauliflower, 5 Bean Chili, and Coconut Curry at 21 Oak. Or dig into comfort food like Smoked Poutine and Fish n’ Chips at The Main Pub.

Portland, ME

  • Population: 66,649
  • Home Price: $248,000 median purchase price, $969 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 35% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.0%

Approximately one-third of Maine’s population calls Portland home. But don’t let that fool you—it’s still a small town with a close-knit community! Though it’s primarily known for its fishing and agriculture industries, Vacationland is considered the center of economy, tourism, and growth in the region. Also, as you might expect, Portland’s northern location results in cooler temperatures and an increased likelihood for snowfall—however, this keeps summers mild and pleasant. On top of that, Portland has the most microbreweries per capita, so craft beer enthusiasts will love life in Portland!

Things to Do in Portland

Check out local festivals throughout the year like the Maine Outdoor Film Festival or Harvest on the Harbor. Build a sandcastle, go kayaking, or have a beach picnic at East End Beach. Take a tour of the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine. Stroll through the Sculpture Garden or view the collection of over 18,000 artworks at the Portland Museum of Art. Visit the International Cryptozoology Museum to learn about hidden and unknown animals like the Abominable Snowman and Bigfoot. Celebrate East Coast wine with various tastings and food pairings at Portland Wine Week. Have fresh Maine lobster in the form of a Lobster Roll or Surf & Turf Burger from The Highroller Lobster Co. Or stop by Allagash Brewing Company to sample brews like the North Sky Stout or Fine Acre Golden Ale.

Providence, RI

  • Population: 178,851
  • Home price: $173,800 median purchase price, $917 median monthly rent
  • Crime rate: Safer than 16% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment rate: 6.9%

Being the oldest city in Rhode Island, Providence is an incredible place to live on the East Coast if you love exploring historical sites and checking out museums. PVD is also home to top-rated colleges like Johnson & Wales, Providence College, and the Ivy League Brown University. If you’re starting your career or looking for a new job, Providence has a hot job market, thanks to the presence of Fortune 500 Companies like Textron, United Natural Foods, and Citizens Financial Group. You’ll also love Providence for its local culture, especially in charming neighborhoods like Federal Hill, which is known as the city’s Little Italy!

Things to Do in Providence

Have lunch on the water, go for a jog, or watch the river light up during WaterFire at Waterplace Park. Tour the RISD Museum of Art to see galleries featuring work from current students or collections from Ancient Greece, Asia, and more. See broadway musicals like RENT and Hamilton at Providence Performing Arts Center. Learn more about Providence’s history on Benefit Street, where you can visit the Stephen Hopkins House, Barker Playhouse, Nightingale-Brown House, and more. Eat some of the best burgers in Providence at Harry’s Bar and Burger. Have unique BBQ bites like Pierogies, Poblano Cheddar Kielbasa, and Fried Fish Sandwiches at Durk’s Bar-B-Q. Try authentic Italian dishes like the Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina at Pane E Vino. Or take in the city views while sipping on fun drinks like the Blueberry Gin Sling or Espress Yourself at Rooftop at the Providence G.

Virginia Beach, VA

Aerial View of North End Beach in Virginia Beach, VA. Photo by Instagram user @itsabbsmith

Photo via @itsabbsmith

  • Population: 449,733
  • Home price: $262,200 median purchase price, $1,258 median monthly rent
  • Crime rate: Safer than 56% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%

If you’re moving to the East Coast, Virginia Beach is a top choice—and it’s one of the best beach cities in the U.S! Neptune City is a great place to call home, thanks to its mild year-round weather and what locals tend to describe as “Goldilocks Climate.” For those who enjoy spending time outside, Virginia Beach has plenty of gorgeous state parks, wildlife preserves, and beaches to unwind at. There’s also tons of culture to explore at places like the ViBE Creative District, which features local galleries, outdoor murals, small shops, and more!

Things to Do in Virginia Beach

Go hiking, fishing, camping, and more at First Landing State Park. Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center to see harbor seals, sea turtles, and sharks. Take a tour of the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, one of the country’s oldest historic sites. Plan a relaxing staycation to Sandbridge Beach and spend the weekend walking along the soft sandy beaches, sunbathing, and kayaking. Order a coffee flight from Pourfavor Coffee Shop. Have brunch with a Sticky Chicken Waffle Cone, Cookie Dough Pancakes, or Breakfast Flatbread from Hair of the Dog. Enjoy waterfront views while eating Crabby Fries, Fried Shrimp, and Bronzed Yellowfin Tuna at Waterman’s Surfside Grill. Or sip on some craft brews like the Shock Collar Sour at Wasserhund Brewing Company.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.