Best Small Towns in America: 7 Places You’ll Want to Live

Looking for the best small towns in America? Whether you’re searching for affordable places to raise a family or a community full of amenities perfect for your retirement, these seven locations across the U.S. are the top small towns to live in, thanks to their affordability, low crime rates, and unique attractions!

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
  • Fayetteville, AR
  • Georgetown, TX
  • Los Alamos, NM
  • Louisville, CO
  • Portland, ME
  • Traverse City, MI

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

  • Population: 3,722
  • Home Price: $1,226,300 median purchase price; $1,961 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 47% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 0.7%

If you’re looking for a truly luxurious place to live, Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the best small towns in California! You might recognize the breathtaking white sand beaches from shows like Big Little Lies or know it by the celebrities who call it home. But paradise and European-inspired architecture comes with a hefty price tag. Those who can afford to live in this cozy small town with a small population can enjoy great schools, comfortable weather year-round, and a quieter way of life!

What to Do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

As a top-rated, dog-friendly city in America, your four-legged friends can come with you almost anywhere! Whether it’s out for a nice dinner or a day at Carmel Beach, bring your pup along for the adventure. Spend quiet afternoons taking in the cottage-inspired buildings or exploring unique boutiques downtown. Dolphin watching and evening picnics at the beach are a quick walk or jog from all parts of this tiny community. Those with a penchant for the arts can admire Art Walks every second Saturday or a night at the Monterey Symphony.

Fayetteville, AR

  • Population: 85,267
  • Home Price: $186,200 median purchase price; $734 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 15% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%

Fayetteville is one of the best small towns in the South for all ages! Home to the University of Arkansas, this mid-size town is bustling with college football fans and a vibrant arts scene. Comfortable weather throughout the year and a lower cost of living compared to the rest of Arkansas make this a great place for retirees, too! As two of the largest companies in the area, Tyson and Walmart provide a vast range of employment opportunities for those of working age.

What to Do in Fayetteville

If spending your Saturday tailgating for college football is a passion, Fayetteville is one of the best small college towns! Not only do locals rally behind sporting events, but they also love to spend time outdoors taking in the gorgeous scenery. Considered one of the most walkable cities in Arkansas, residents can bike and hike along 40 miles of trails. Those looking to reconnect with nature outside of town can drive less than an hour to Ozark National Forest. You can also catch a world-class show at Walton Arts Center, or stroll along the historic downtown area and revel in the works of local artists and musicians at First Thursday.

Georgetown, TX

  • Population: 70,685
  • Home Price: $222,300 median purchase price; $1,018 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 73% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%

Affordability, great public and private schools, and tight-knit neighborhoods are all reasons why Georgetown is one of the best small towns in Texas. In addition, since it’s home to the expansive Sun City Texas Community Association, Georgetown is also one of the best small towns to retire. If you’re dreaming of a place that loves to come together in the town square for a concert, movie, or fireworks show, then look no further! And while this town still holds onto its traditions, it’s paving the way forward by being completely powered by renewable energy.

What to Do in Georgetown

Explore downtown and discover new boutiques and unique restaurants housed in historic Victorian buildings. The town square is also host to Market DaysFirst Friday, and the annual Red Poppy Festival. Head to Lake Georgetown to get your fill of fishing and boating, or set out for a bike ride or jog around the water! Exploring the caves at Inner Space Cavern is another popular family activity. And if you need to get out of town for the weekend, Austin is about 30 miles away!

Los Alamos, NM

  • Population: 12,019
  • Home Price: $277,700 median purchase price; $933 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 79% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 1.9%

Searching for the best small towns to raise a family? Los Alamos could be your all-American dream! Top-rated schools and incredibly low crime rates make this an ideal location to raise children. This sunny town is also known for its outdoor recreation spanning across all four seasons. Parents can find employment opportunities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and will enjoy extremely quick commute times as they drive to work or their kid’s baseball game.

What to Do in Los Alamos

Head to Valles Caldera National Preserve for wildlife watching or Bandelier National Monument to check out the canyon in your new backyard. This small community loves to hike and bike in the summer and spend winters skiing at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. History buffs can uncover the story of the atomic bomb at Manhattan Project National Park. Residents with creative inclinations can check out the works of local artists and musicians, as well as learn about the nature and history surrounding the city at the Los Alamos Creative District.

Louisville, CO

  • Population: 21,128
  • Home Price: $440,300 median purchase price; $1,410 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 85% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.0%

Make an active mountain town your home! Nature lovers and creatives alike will find Louisville to be one of the best small towns in Colorado. Extremely safe neighborhoods, fantastic schools, and family-friendly events like food truck rallies and farmer’s markets make this is a coveted place to raise children. Located between Boulder and Denver, residents can quickly enjoy city amenities and job opportunities nearby without getting stuck in the hustle and bustle of the big metro.

What to Do in Louisville

Louisville’s historic downtown is a prime gathering point for concerts and community events. Come together in the summertime for the weekly Street Faire, or try out one of the many one-of-a-kind, locally-owned restaurants. Living in one of the best small mountain towns also provides lots of outdoor recreation opportunities. Stay active in town exploring 32 miles of hiking and biking trails, or drive an hour to Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can go camping, kayaking, fishing, and more.

Portland, ME

  • Population: 66,882
  • Home Price: $248,000 median purchase price; $969 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 36% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.0%

Across the country from its Oregon cousin, Portland, Maine is one of the best small towns for job opportunities. Healthcare, tourism, and financial services are the largest industries in the area with major companies like Maine Medical Center and TD Banknorth offering employment opportunities. Not to mention, business is projected to keep growing in the coming years. This need for young and fresh talent also means the up-and-coming coastal city is filled with farm-to-table restaurants and microbreweries.

What to Do in Portland

Touted as having more restaurants per capita than New York City, Portland is a paradise for foodies. Being one of the best small coastal towns means you’ll have your pick of fresh catches as you travel along the cobblestones in the Downtown Portland. The city is also home to a vibrant arts community! Stroll down Congress Street for First Friday Art Walk, or visit the Portland Museum of Art to see famous works. Once you have your fill of funky paintings and sculptures, head to East End Beach for a swim or seal watching.

Traverse City, MI

  • Population: 15,515
  • Home Price: $198,000 median purchase price; $825 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 29% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.7%

Are you dreaming of a small town with breathtaking views and plenty of outdoor activities? Look no further than Traverse City! Situated on Lake Michigan, this northern tourist hub promises you’ll always have something to do. Affordable housing, access to some of the best public schools in Michigan, and a low unemployment rate are all reasons why this is one of the best towns in America.

What to Do in Traverse City

As the top tart cherry producer in the U.S., summertime in Traverse City is centered around the National Cherry Festival. Complete with a parade, pageant, road races, and countless cherry-inspired food and beverages, this annual tradition is beloved by residents and tourists alike. But Traverse City isn’t just great for cherries. The town also produces wine along the countryside! Take a winery tour of the Old Mission, or travel along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. If you prefer beer, there are plenty of microbreweries to check out. When locals aren’t indulging in fine dining and libations, the community stays active by heading out onto the green at one of the numerous golf courses or exploring scenic biking trails. Nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers more opportunities to enjoy nature with boating, fishing, and hiking.

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Whether you’re looking for the most affordable places to live or the cutest small towns to move to, Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage locations across the U.S. Find a storage unit near you today!

Home price values, crime rates, and unemployment rates from AreaVibes.com. Population data from U.S. Census Bureau.

Best Small Towns in America