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small home sits on a cliff near the seaside with a lighthouse nearby at sunset

Best Small Towns in America

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 nine locations across the U.S. are the top small towns to live in, thanks to their affordability, friendly communities, and unique attractions!

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Blue-green ocean water tides flowing over sand and rocks on a beach. Photo by Instagram user @katelynclaire

Photo via @katelynclaire

  • Population: 3,852
  • Home Price: $1,226,300 median purchase; $1,961 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 25% 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, thanks to beach access, green parks, small businesses, and an exciting nightlife scene! Residents of this cozy coastal town enjoy comfortable weather year-round and a quieter way of life, with companies like Quail Lodge & Golf Club, Homes Magazine, La Playa Carmel, and Inns-By-The-Sea offering a variety of jobs in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Carmel Unified School District is one of the best school districts in California, with institutions like Carmel High School and Carmel Middle School. And Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most dog-friendly cities in America, so residents can enjoy small-town charm with their four-legged friends!

Things to Do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Hit the waves or explore the Scenic Bluff Path with your pup at Carmel Beach. Spend quiet afternoons shopping in Carmel Plaza among cottage-inspired buildings and unique boutiques like Parts Unknown and Club di Lusso. Participate in the town’s Art Events like the Spring Artist’s Retreat, which has been recommended by O, The Oprah Magazine. Start your day with dishes like Cottage French Toast, Huevos Ranchero, or a Walnut Waffle at The Cottage. Enjoy Yellow Thai Curry, Seafood Pasta, or a Gyros Sandwich on a pet-friendly private terrace at the Treehouse Cafe. Suit up for some fine dining at Stationaery where dishes like White Alba Truffle, Lobster Roll, and Caviar & Chips shine. Or visit the tasting room at Caraccioli Cellars to sip on a variety of red and white wines!

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Chesterbrook, PA

Older homes set on a grassy knoll at daybreak. Photo by Instagram user @clarkmonson

Photo via @clarkmonson

  • Population: 4,693
  • Home Price: $312,600 median purchase; $1,991 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 82% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.2%

Chesterbrook isn’t just perfect for those looking for small-town living—it’s considered the best place to live in America! The town’s well-kept neighborhoods and quiet streets are perfect for families, with a variety of community walking trails winding throughout. Spacious green parks, like Wilson Farm Park, bring a touch of nature to this small Pennsylvania town, making it great for pet-lovers and nature-lovers alike. With a median household income higher than the national average, many residents can also find a variety of well-paying jobs at companies like BNP Paribas, JG Wentworth, and AmerisourceBergen. Plus, excellent schools—like Valley Forge Middle School—and nearby city amenities in Philadelphia help make this one of the best small towns to live in.

Things to Do in Chesterbrook

Find community by joining a diving, swimming, or tennis team at the Chesterbrook Swim & Tennis Club. Practice your throwing game at the Wilson Farm Park Disc Golf Course. Learn about the city’s patriotic history or host an event at the Duportail House and Federal Barn. Discover the ruins of a historical bottling company when you run, jog, or bike on the 1.3-mile Valley Creek Trail. Admire rare plant species at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, or participate in a Wednesday Walkabout for a behind-the-scenes nursery tour! Chow down on a specialty pizza like the Coal Fired Buffalo Chicken Pizza or the Coal Fired Grandma Pesto Pizza at HG Coal Fired Pizza. Order Wonton Soup, Spicy Tuna Dumplings, or an Eel Avocado Roll at Lotus Inn. Or devour dishes like the Country Apple Salad, Fish Tacos, and the Bacon Ranch Fajita Wrap at Nudy’s Cafe – Swedesford!

Clarendon Hills, IL

View of a lake with a fountain midday with clouds in the sky. Photo by Instagram user @donaldsoares

Photo via @donaldsoares

  • Population: 8,641
  • Home Price: $485,900 median purchase; $974 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 87% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 1.8%

Largely considered the best place to live in Illinois, Clarendon Hills is great for small-town living because they focus on maintaining The Volunteer Village’s culture and supporting friends, neighbors, and families. A higher-than-average median household income and unbeatable safety ratings make Clarendon Hills great for both families and retirees. Excellent schools like Walker Elementary School and Clarendon Hills Middle School facilitate student learning, while the Community Consolidated School District 181 offers plenty of employment opportunities for parents. And when you’re feeling like going to town, it’s easy to catch a ride into Chicago via the Metra BNSF Railway, public transportation that’s part of the Downtown Revitalization Project.

Things to Do in Clarendon Hills

Listen to live music or participate in carnival games at the annual Daisy Days Festival. Enroll in Clarendon Hills Park District recreational programs like culinary classes, sign the kids up for youth athletics like fencing and volleyball, or join the Senior Rainbow Club after retirement. Take your kids to storytime or check out an item from the Library of Things at the Clarendon Hills Public Library. Swim laps in the pool or ride down the Slip & Slide Water Slide at Lions Park Pool. Learn beginner or advanced soccer skills through the Zen Soccer School. Order Wisconsin Cheese Curds with a Country Burger or Kentucky Ribeye at Country House. Fill up on Edamame and specialty rolls like the Peacock Roll and the Crunch Dragon Roll at Sakura Sushi. And don’t miss out on Crispy Pork Belly, Beef Wellington, and Chocolate Guinness Cake that’ll make your mouth water at The George!

Fayetteville, AR

university of arkansas campus at sunset photo by Instagram user @uarkansas

Photo via @uarkansas

  • Population: 80,552
  • Home Price: $186,200 median purchase; $734 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 8% 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, Fayetteville is a small college town that bustles with college football fans and a vibrant arts scene. One of the most walkable cities in Arkansas, comfortable year-round weather and low cost of living help make the ‘Ville a great place for singles, young professionals, families, and retirees alike! Companies like Twin Rivers Group and Washington Region Medical Center—two of the largest companies in the area—provide plenty of excellent employment opportunities. And some of the best schools in Arkansas, like Vandergriff Elementary School, McNair Middle School, and Fayetteville High School offer quality education to students living in the area.

Things to Do in Fayetteville

Admire the beauty of the themed gardens at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Listen to a Taxiway Talk or book a guided tour of the facility at the Arkansas Air and Military Museum. Compete on the 18-hole championship golf course at Paradise Valley Athletic Club. Bike and hike along 40 miles of trails that span across more than 3,000 acres and 70 parks. Catch a world-class show at Walton Arts Center or attend a special event like the Masquerade Ball or Mosaix Festival. Chow down at Arsaga’s with dishes like the Omelette Sandwich, Butternut Frittata, and Avocado Toast. Sit on the rooftop deck and nibble on Fish Tacos, Bangers and Mash, or a Charcuterie Board from Feed & Folly. Head over to Penguin Ed’s BBQ and devour delicious dishes like the BBQ Pulled Pork and Jumbo BBQ Hot Links Sandwich. Or grab a dessert or cold drink like a Watermelon Ribbon Ice or Black Tea Latte from BoBo’s Ribbon Ice!

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Georgetown, TX

people on horses riding on main street holding texas state flag and american flag photo by Instagram user @georgetowntx

Photo via @georgetowntx

  • Population: 59,436
  • Home Price: $222,300 median purchase; $1,018 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 62% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%

With its affordable price tag and plenty of things to do, it’s easy to see why Georgetown is one of the best small towns in America. Families are able to send their kids to exceptional schools, and Southwestern University offers older students an excellent education in majors like Business and Communication Studies. Along with having the most beautiful town square in Texas with boutiques and a variety of restaurants inside Victorian buildings, Georgetown is also home to the expansive Sun City Texas Community Association, making this quaint city one of the best small towns to retire. And while this town still holds onto its traditions with festivals like Market Days and the Red Poppy Festival, Georgetown leads the way as one of the first cities to be completely powered by renewable energy.

Things to Do in Georgetown

Catch live entertainment like the Dueling Pianos or Russell Boyd at Barrels & Amps. Visit Georgetown Square and learn the history of Williamson County at The Williamson Museum. Head to Lake Georgetown to get your fill of fishing and boating, or hike the 2.5-mile Cedar Breaks Park trailhead to see the scenic Crockett Gardens Falls. Explore the caves at Inner Space Cavern, go gemstone panning, and walk the Texas Cave Trail! Curb your cravings with dishes like Corned Beef Hash, Chicken and Grits, and the Breakfast Croissant at Monument Cafe. Take a seat at the Catfish Parlour for a Jumbo Fried Shrimp Plate, The Parlour Platter, or Chicken Fried Steak. Devour dinner dishes like Carbonara Chicken, Eggplant Parmesan, and Lobster Ravioli at Tony & Luigi’s. Or end your night with a custom ice cream sandwich at The Baked Bear!

Los Alamos, NM

  • Population: 11,733
  • Home Price: $277,700 median purchase; $933 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 89% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 1.9%

One of the best places to live in New Mexico, Los Alamos is dotted by pine trees and overlooks the Rio Grande Valley. Top-rated schools like the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, Los Alamos Middle School, and Los Alamos High School—ranked one of the best high schools in New Mexico—and incredibly low crime rates make this an ideal location to raise children. This sunny town is also known for its outdoor recreation, with the New Mexico weather allowing activities like hiking and biking year-round. Art-lovers in Los Alamos can appreciate the town’s growing arts and culture scene at places like the Fuller Art Lodge Center, while also having easy access to even more art exhibitions in nearby Santa Fe.

Things to Do in Los Alamos

Explore the canyon in your new backyard at Bandelier National Monument. Spend your winters skiing at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. Uncover the story of the atomic bomb at Manhattan Project National Park. Check out local artists and musicians and learn about the nature and history surrounding the city at the Los Alamos Creative District. Feel the music at the Cowboy Dinner & Dance at Los Alamos County Fair & Rodeo Parade. Grab a Bagel with Cream Cheese, an Up & Atom breakfast sandwich, or a “Lots of Lox” sandwich at Ruby K’s Bagel Cafe. Treat your family to lunch at Viola’s for a Blue Corn Enchilada or the Taco Plate. Replenish with dishes like Fried Green Chile Strips, Gnocchi Gorgonzola, and the Open Faced Polish Brats at Cottonwood On The Greens after a round of golf at the Los Alamos County Golf Course. Or finish your night at Bathtub Row Brewing Co-Op with a Tub Beer like the Hoppenheimer IPA or Old School Pale Ale!

Louisville, CO

snow covered field with wood post fence with mountains in background photo by Instagram user @whalekisser

Photo via @whalekisser

  • Population: 19,972
  • Home Price: $440,300 median purchase; $1,410 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 42% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.0%

If you’re looking for one of the best small mountain towns, the Denver suburb of Lousiville, CO is perfect for you! Extremely safe neighborhoods, fantastic schools, and family-friendly events like food truck rallies and a farmer’s market make this is a coveted place to raise children. Families are able to send their children to high-quality schools in the Boulder Valley School District like Louisville Elementary School, Louisville Middle School, and Monarch High School, one of the best Colorado high schools in the Boulder area. And since it’s located between Boulder and Denver, Lousiville residents are able to benefit from easy access to city amenities and job opportunities at companies like Perforce and Vaisala without getting stuck in the hustle and bustle of the big metro.

Things to Do in Louisville

Come together with the community in the summertime for the weekly Street Faire. Stay active on the 32 miles of hiking and biking trails. Drive to Rocky Mountain National Park where you can go camping, kayaking, fishing, and more. Learn the history of the city and the area’s historic sites and buildings by taking a walking tour or visiting the City of Louisville Historical Museum. Let your pet explore the dog park off-leash at Louisville Community Park. Grab breakfast at the Biscuit Bar, which specializes in biscuit-centric dishes like Biscuits & Gravy, the Chicken Fried Biscuit, and the Corned Beef Biscuit. Stop by Izzio Bakery to try a Caramel Pecan Sticky Bun or Organic Sourdough bread. Chow down on a Special Noodle Bowl or Drunken Noodles at Mile High Pho. Or try one of the many beverages on tap like the Space Kilt Scotch Ale, Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong, or Wicked Nebula NE IPA at Gravity Brewing.

Portland, ME

  • Population: 66,649
  • Home Price: $248,000 median purchase; $969 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 49% 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 and educational services are some of the largest industries in the area, with major companies like Maine Medical Center, the Portland Press Herald, and the Catholic Charities of Maine offering a variety of employment opportunities. Additionally, this city is home to some of the best schools in Maine, including Longfellow Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School, and Casco Bay High School. This up-and-coming coastal city is also filled with more than 300 farm-to-table restaurants, microbreweries, and non-chain establishments, making Portland a paradise for foodies. Plus, living in Portland, Maine means living in one of the best seaside towns and picking the best of the catch at local fish markets dotting the cobblestone streets of Downtown Portland.

Things to Do in Portland

Test out your swing and book a tee time at Riverside Golf Course. Explore the Western Promenade, a popular area made of walking trails, a dog park, and community garden. Attend a high school, amateur, or semi-pro sporting event at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Catch a Portland Sea Dogs (MiLB) game by cheering on the home team and participating in the seventh inning stretch at one of the best minor league stadiums, Hadlock Field. Stroll down Congress Street and admire or purchase local art pieces at the First Friday Art Walk. Head to East End Beach for a swim or seal watching. Order seasonal milkshakes, smoothie bowls, raw juice, or coffee at Blake Orchard Juicery. Stop by The Bayou Kitchen and chow down on dishes like Chicken & Sausage Gumbo and the Cajun Burger. Get a taste of the sea with dishes like Scallops in Pernod and Cream and Lobster Diavolo at Street and Co. Or pick up some of your favorite pours like River Trip, Sixteen Counties, and Coolship Clermont from Allagash Brewing Company!

Traverse City, MI

traverse city lake with boat on the water and town in view photo by Instagram user @tonydemin

Photo via @tonydemin

  • Population: 15,392
  • Home Price: $198,000 median purchase; $825 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 22% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.7%

Are you dreaming of living in 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. Nicknamed The Cherry Capital of the World for its reputation as the top tart cherry producer and the city’s National Cherry Festival, Traverse City is one of the best places to retire in Michigan and one of the best beach towns to live in. With affordable housing, access to some of the best public schools in Michigan like West Senior High School, Central High School, and Grand Traverse Academy, and large employers like Northwestern Michigan College and CEMA, it’s easy to see why Traverse City is one of the best small towns in America.

Things to Do in Traverse City

Experience the city’s many biking trails, including Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, which includes 27 miles of paved trails near Lake Michigan. Head over to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for additional outdoor opportunities to boat, fish, and hike. Track your self-guided tour in a Beer Week passport to earn prizes during Traverse City Beer Week. Take a bite of Funkadelic Peanut Nutter or Ginger Sugar donuts at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Order Steak Udon, Fish & Chips, or Cowboy Killer Burger at Fire Fly. Chow down on fish favorites like the Smoked Whitefish Dip, Lake Superior Walleye, or Rainbow Trout at Apache Trout Grill. Schedule a winery tour of the Old Mission or travel along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. Or if pours are more your style, check out the libations like Rare Bird Creepin’ In and Rare Bird Rosé the Riveter at Rare Bird Brew Pub.


Whether you’re looking for the most affordable places to live or cozy small towns to move to, Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage facilities located across the U.S. while you make your transition. Find storage units near you!

City statistics from AreaVibes.com

Pinterest graphic: Small Towns: 9 Best Small Towns in America

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.