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Don’t Overlook These Hidden Gem Cities With a High Quality of Life

Alexandria Bova

With the new year officially in full swing, a lot of resolutions are focused around big life decisions — and these changes may include finding a new place to live. Many homebuyers often have their sights set on larger metropolitan areas boasting a ton of local amenities. But bigger cities come with bigger house payments, more traffic and more people per square mile, which begs the question: Is life in the big city still worth the exorbitant cost for the average homebuyer?

According to a recent survey by Rent.com, 41% of Americans had to sacrifice saving money to afford to live in the city, and nearly 31% said city living wasn’t worth the hype. The idea of big-city living might sound appealing at first, but smaller cities can offer the same amenities as larger metropolises at a much lower cost of living and a better quality of life. There are plenty of underrated and charming towns that homebuyers may be missing out on.

To find these “hidden gems” in every state, GOBankingRates analyzed cities with a population between 10,000 and 75,000, according to data sourced from AreaVibes. If there were too few cities within the state that met this criterion, the population requirement was relaxed to include cities with a population of over 5,000. The study also looked at the median list price of homes within the area. States are listed in alphabetical order, with the five hidden gem cities in each state ranked in order of highest livability score. The livability score for each city is out of 100 and based on amenities, cost of living, crime, employment, housing, schools and weather. For states where multiple cities had the same livability score as the fifth hidden gem, all tied cities were included.

If you’re tired of dealing with high prices, traffic and crowds in the city, it’s worth looking elsewhere for affordable cities you’ll love to live in.

Last updated: Jan. 16, 2020

Alabama

  • Vestavia Hills
    • Median list price: $454,900
    • Livability score: 88
  • Homewood
    • Median list price: $369,900
    • Livability score: 86
  • Madison
    • Median list price: $294,875
    • Livability score: 83
  • Trussville
    • Median list price: $334,900
    • Livability score: 82
  • Helena
    • Median list price: $346,700
    • Livability score: 81

Alaska

  • Sitka
    • Median list price: $382,500
    • Livability score: 64
  • Homer
    • Median list price: $349,900
    • Livability score: 57
  • Kodiak
    • Median list price: $320,000
    • Livability score: 56
  • Palmer
    • Median list price: $299,000
    • Livability score: 55
  • Juneau
    • Median list price: $363,600
    • Livability score: 53

Arizona

  • Oro Valley
    • Median list price: $359,500
    • Livability score: 82
  • Queen Creek
    • Median list price: $331,995
    • Livability score: 79
  • Anthem
    • Median list price: $359,825
    • Livability score: 77
  • Maricopa
    • Median list price: $227,890
    • Livability score: 76
  • Apache Junction
    • Median list price: $226,900
    • Livability score: 76

Arkansas

  • Bentonville
    • Median list price: $329,900
    • Livability score: 86
  • Bella Vista
    • Median list price: $193,500
    • Livability score: 76
  • Rogers
    • Median list price: $300,000
    • Livability score: 75
  • Siloam Springs
    • Median list price: $219,800
    • Livability score: 72
  • Centerton
    • Median list price: $272,097
    • Livability score: 70

California

  • Lafayette
    • Median list price: $1,699,000
    • Livability score: 85
  • La Cañada Flintridge
    • Median list price: $2,270,500
    • Livability score: 85
  • Mill Valley
    • Median list price: $1,695,000
    • Livability score: 85
  • Solana Beach
    • Median list price: $1,378,889
    • Livability score: 85
  • Hermosa Beach
    • Median list price: $1,799,000
    • Livability score: 85

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Colorado

  • Superior
    • Median list price: $568,900
    • Livability score: 83
  • Louisville
    • Median list price: $595,000
    • Livability score: 79
  • Greenwood Village
    • Median list price: $1,125,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Parker
    • Median list price: $500,000
    • Livability score: 77
  • Broomfield
    • Median list price: $488,250
    • Livability score: 76

Connecticut

  • West Hartford
    • Median list price: $309,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Westport
    • Median list price: $1,295,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Newington
    • Median list price: $219,900
    • Livability score: 76
  • Greenwich
    • Median list price: $2,092,500
    • Livability score: 76
  • Middletown
    • Median list price: $239,900
    • Livability score: 75

Delaware

  • Middletown
    • Median list price: $367,900
    • Livability score: 75
  • Hockessin
    • Median list price: $449,950
    • Livability score: 71
  • Newark
    • Median list price: $260,000
    • Livability score: 70
  • Bear
    • Median list price: $299,700
    • Livability score: 68
  • Smyrna
    • Median list price: $289,000
    • Livability score: 66

Florida

  • Westchase
    • Median list price: $359,000
    • Livability score: 90
  • Oldsmar
    • Median list price: $290,000
    • Livability score: 89
  • Oviedo
    • Median list price: $367,042
    • Livability score: 89
  • Lakeland Highlands
    • Median list price: $302,425
    • Livability score: 89
  • Doctor Phillips
    • Median list price: $449,444
    • Livability score: 88

Georgia

  • Vinings
    • Median list price: $399,900
    • Livability score: 86
  • Peachtree City
    • Median list price: $379,900
    • Livability score: 85
  • Alpharetta
    • Median list price: $492,288
    • Livability score: 85
  • Suwanee
    • Median list price: $394,900
    • Livability score: 84
  • Peachtree Corners
    • Median list price: $389,920
    • Livability score: 84
  • Woodstock
    • Median list price: $333,990
    • Livability score: 84

Hawaii

  • Kailua
    • Median list price: $1,167,500
    • Livability score: 82
  • Aiea
    • Median list price: $458,000
    • Livability score: 73
  • Kaneohe
    • Median list price: $695,000
    • Livability score: 72
  • Kalaheo
    • Median list price: $865,000
    • Livability score: 70
  • Lahaina
    • Median list price: $947,500
    • Livability score: 70
  • Kihei
    • Median list price: $889,900
    • Livability score: 70

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Idaho

  • Eagle
    • Median list price: $524,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Hayden
    • Median list price: $364,945
    • Livability score: 80
  • Chubbuck
    • Median list price: $243,750
    • Livability score: 78
  • Lewiston
    • Median list price: $239,250
    • Livability score: 78
  • Ammon
    • Median list price: $287,500
    • Livability score: 77

Illinois

  • Algonquin
    • Median list price: $265,000
    • Livability score: 81
  • Lake in the Hills
    • Median list price: $229,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Columbia
    • Median list price: $275,000
    • Livability score: 81
  • Schaumburg
    • Median list price: $214,950
    • Livability score: 80
  • Warrenville
    • Median list price: $297,000
    • Livability score: 80
  • South Elgin
    • Median list price: $264,900
    • Livability score: 80

Indiana

  • Jasper
    • Median list price: $205,000
    • Livability score: 83
  • Westfield
    • Median list price: $334,990
    • Livability score: 83
  • Brownsburg
    • Median list price: $273,990
    • Livability score: 82
  • Granger
    • Median list price: $298,000
    • Livability score: 82
  • Noblesville
    • Median list price: $289,950
    • Livability score: 82
  • Crown Point
    • Median list price: $255,000
    • Livability score: 82

Iowa

  • Ankeny
    • Median list price: $255,990
    • Livability score: 90
  • Clive
    • Median list price: $342,450
    • Livability score: 88
  • Urbandale
    • Median list price: $240,000
    • Livability score: 88
  • Marion
    • Median list price: $214,950
    • Livability score: 86
  • Waukee
    • Median list price: $281,900
    • Livability score: 86

Kansas

  • Prairie Village
    • Median list price: $350,000
    • Livability score: 89
  • Shawnee
    • Median list price: $315,000
    • Livability score: 84
  • Leawood
    • Median list price: $599,888
    • Livability score: 84
  • Lenexa
    • Median list price: $407,450
    • Livability score: 83
  • Andover
    • Median list price: $249,000
    • Livability score: 77
  • Gardner
    • Median list price: $254,950
    • Livability score: 77

Kentucky

  • Fort Thomas
    • Median list price: $269,400
    • Livability score: 90
  • Fort Mitchell
    • Median list price: $321,950
    • Livability score: 86
  • Edgewood
    • Median list price: $229,900
    • Livability score: 84
  • Bellevue
    • Median list price: $164,500
    • Livability score: 81
  • Mount Washington
    • Median list price: $229,950
    • Livability score: 80

Louisiana

  • Mandeville
    • Median list price: $299,950
    • Livability score: 85
  • Youngsville
    • Median list price: $239,900
    • Livability score: 84
  • River Ridge
    • Median list price: $289,250
    • Livability score: 82
  • Broussard
    • Median list price: $242,175
    • Livability score: 81
  • Belle Chasse
    • Median list price: $289,950
    • Livability score: 80

Maine

  • Brunswick
    • Median list price: $325,000
    • Livability score: 73
  • Saco
    • Median list price: $339,999
    • Livability score: 72
  • South Portland
    • Median list price: $295,000
    • Livability score: 69
  • Portland
    • Median list price: $395,000
    • Livability score: 66
  • Bangor
    • Median list price: $194,900
    • Livability score: 66

Maryland

  • Bethesda
    • Median list price: $1,180,000
    • Livability score: 76
  • Bel Air
    • Median list price: $384,900
    • Livability score: 75
  • Ellicott City
    • Median list price: $575,000
    • Livability score: 74
  • Severna Park
    • Median list price: $561,950
    • Livability score: 73
  • Largo
    • Median list price: $289,995
    • Livability score: 73

Massachusetts

  • Melrose
    • Median list price: $560,950
    • Livability score: 80
  • Belmont
    • Median list price: $999,000
    • Livability score: 80
  • Brookline
    • Median list price: $1,239,500
    • Livability score: 80
  • Arlington
    • Median list price: $699,000
    • Livability score: 80
  • Wellesley
    • Median list price: $1,795,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Needham
    • Median list price: $1,124,999
    • Livability score: 78
  • Dedham
    • Median list price: $549,900
    • Livability score: 78
  • Reading
    • Median list price: $564,900
    • Livability score: 78

Michigan

  • Berkley
    • Median list price: $244,950
    • Livability score: 89
  • Grosse Pointe Woods
    • Median list price: $261,000
    • Livability score: 88
  • Farmington
    • Median list price: $220,000
    • Livability score: 88
  • Grosse Pointe Park
    • Median list price: $410,000
    • Livability score: 87
  • Royal Oak
    • Median list price: $259,900
    • Livability score: 87

Minnesota

  • Champlin
    • Median list price: $275,000
    • Livability score: 84
  • Eden Prairie
    • Median list price: $438,700
    • Livability score: 81
  • North Mankato
    • Median list price: $269,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Savage
    • Median list price: $325,000
    • Livability score: 81
  • Northfield
    • Median list price: $279,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Stillwater
    • Median list price: $384,000
    • Livability score: 81

Mississippi

  • Petal
    • Median list price: $182,612
    • Livability score: 81
  • Madison
    • Median list price: $362,500
    • Livability score: 79
  • Olive Branch
    • Median list price: $274,900
    • Livability score: 78
  • Brandon
    • Median list price: $244,900
    • Livability score: 77
  • Hernando
    • Median list price: $285,000
    • Livability score: 77

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Missouri

  • Kirkwood
    • Median list price: $379,000
    • Livability score: 88
  • Ballwin
    • Median list price: $325,000
    • Livability score: 88
  • Manchester
    • Median list price: $249,900
    • Livability score: 88
  • Crestwood
    • Median list price: $214,950
    • Livability score: 86
  • Liberty
    • Median list price: $250,000
    • Livability score: 85
  • Eureka
    • Median list price: $297,000
    • Livability score: 85
  • Blue Springs
    • Median list price: $233,950
    • Livability score: 85

Montana

  • Bozeman
    • Median list price: $483,900
    • Livability score: 76
  • Kalispell
    • Median list price: $365,000
    • Livability score: 69
  • Great Falls
    • Median list price: $205,500
    • Livability score: 66
  • Missoula
    • Median list price: $349,900
    • Livability score: 64
  • Helena
    • Median list price: $299,000
    • Livability score: 64

Nebraska

  • Papillion
    • Median list price: $329,200
    • Livability score: 88
  • Norfolk
    • Median list price: $202,475
    • Livability score: 85
  • Bellevue
    • Median list price: $235,000
    • Livability score: 83
  • Kearney
    • Median list price: $222,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Columbus
    • Median list price: $177,750
    • Livability score: 81

Nevada

  • Boulder City
    • Median list price: $359,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • Mesquite
    • Median list price: $287,250
    • Livability score: 75
  • Pahrump
    • Median list price: $249,684
    • Livability score: 68
  • Elko
    • Median list price: $291,900
    • Livability score: 67
  • Carson City
    • Median list price: $361,250
    • Livability score: 66

New Hampshire

  • Portsmouth
    • Median list price: $599,900
    • Livability score: 78
  • Dover
    • Median list price: $359,900
    • Livability score: 78
  • Derry
    • Median list price: $299,250
    • Livability score: 76
  • Londonderry
    • Median list price: $389,900
    • Livability score: 75
  • Concord
    • Median list price: $249,000
    • Livability score: 71
  • Durham
    • Median list price: $405,000
    • Livability score: 71
  • Keene
    • Median list price: $209,900
    • Livability score: 71

New Jersey

  • Princeton
    • Median list price: $800,000
    • Livability score: 81
  • Haddonfield
    • Median list price: $599,000
    • Livability score: 79
  • Summit
    • Median list price: $925,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • River Edge
    • Median list price: $539,000
    • Livability score: 77
  • Short Hills
    • Median list price: $1,691,900
    • Livability score: 77
  • Edgewater
    • Median list price: $650,000
    • Livability score: 77

New Mexico

  • Alamogordo
    • Median list price: $156,450
    • Livability score: 72
  • Carlsbad
    • Median list price: $279,215
    • Livability score: 70
  • Hobbs
    • Median list price: $199,950
    • Livability score: 67
  • Roswell
    • Median list price: $174,950
    • Livability score: 65
  • Silver City
    • Median list price: $210,000
    • Livability score: 61
  • Portales
    • Median list price: $134,750
    • Livability score: 61
  • Lovington
    • Median list price: $159,000
    • Livability score: 61

New York

  • Tonawanda
    • Median list price: $147,900
    • Livability score: 81
  • North Tonawanda
    • Median list price: $159,900
    • Livability score: 80
  • Jericho
    • Median list price: $928,000
    • Livability score: 80
  • Syosset
    • Median list price: $838,500
    • Livability score: 79
  • Rye
    • Median list price: $1,812,500
    • Livability score: 79

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North Carolina

  • Morrisville
    • Median list price: $308,150
    • Livability score: 88
  • Apex
    • Median list price: $408,000
    • Livability score: 87
  • Cornelius
    • Median list price: $397,000
    • Livability score: 86
  • Holly Springs
    • Median list price: $411,200
    • Livability score: 85
  • Matthews
    • Median list price: $319,500
    • Livability score: 85

North Dakota

  • West Fargo
    • Median list price: $226,215
    • Livability score: 82
  • Williston
    • Median list price: $307,862
    • Livability score: 72
  • Jamestown
    • Median list price: $165,000
    • Livability score: 72
  • Dickinson
    • Median list price: $259,950
    • Livability score: 71
  • Bismarck
    • Median list price: $274,900
    • Livability score: 70
  • Mandan
    • Median list price: $239,900
    • Livability score: 70

Ohio

  • Hilliard
    • Median list price: $349,900
    • Livability score: 91
  • Worthington
    • Median list price: $323,500
    • Livability score: 90
  • Westerville
    • Median list price: $345,400
    • Livability score: 89
  • Gahanna
    • Median list price: $264,900
    • Livability score: 89
  • Mason
    • Median list price: $439,000
    • Livability score: 89

Oklahoma

  • Moore
    • Median list price: $193,888
    • Livability score: 84
  • Yukon
    • Median list price: $215,000
    • Livability score: 83
  • Mustang
    • Median list price: $222,628
    • Livability score: 83
  • Jenks
    • Median list price: $299,225
    • Livability score: 83
  • Sand Springs
    • Median list price: $211,750
    • Livability score: 83
  • Weatherford
    • Median list price: $214,200
    • Livability score: 83

Oregon

  • Lake Oswego
    • Median list price: $727,000
    • Livability score: 81
  • West Linn
    • Median list price: $639,450
    • Livability score: 80
  • Sherwood
    • Median list price: $480,000
    • Livability score: 80
  • Tualatin
    • Median list price: $499,500
    • Livability score: 77
  • Wilsonville
    • Median list price: $495,000
    • Livability score: 77
  • Keizer
    • Median list price: $329,450
    • Livability score: 77
  • La Grande
    • Median list price: $198,950
    • Livability score: 77

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Pennsylvania

  • Bethel Park
    • Median list price: $198,900
    • Livability score: 87
  • Hershey
    • Median list price: $283,400
    • Livability score: 84
  • South Park Township
    • Median list price: $189,900
    • Livability score: 83
  • West Mifflin
    • Median list price: $109,500
    • Livability score: 83
  • Jefferson Hills
    • Median list price: $212,400
    • Livability score: 83
  • Whitehall
    • Median list price: $185,950
    • Livability score: 83

Rhode Island

  • East Providence
    • Median list price: $257,000
    • Livability score: 70
  • Westerly
    • Median list price: $479,000
    • Livability score: 63
  • Newport
    • Median list price: $592,000
    • Livability score: 62
  • Pawtucket
    • Median list price: $224,995
    • Livability score: 61
  • Woonsocket
    • Median list price: $229,000
    • Livability score: 60

South Carolina

  • Mauldin
    • Median list price: $207,400
    • Livability score: 84
  • Hanahan
    • Median list price: $287,000
    • Livability score: 82
  • Clemson
    • Median list price: $294,500
    • Livability score: 82
  • Fort Mill
    • Median list price: $364,990
    • Livability score: 80
  • Simpsonville
    • Median list price: $274,909
    • Livability score: 79
  • Bluffton
    • Median list price: $349,900
    • Livability score: 79

South Dakota

  • Brookings
    • Median list price: $179,900
    • Livability score: 80
  • Watertown
    • Median list price: $209,000
    • Livability score: 76
  • Pierre
    • Median list price: $240,000
    • Livability score: 75
  • Aberdeen
    • Median list price: $164,500
    • Livability score: 73
  • Yankton
    • Median list price: $211,800
    • Livability score: 71
  • Huron
    • Median list price: $149,000
    • Livability score: 71

Tennessee

  • Spring Hill
    • Median list price: $317,990
    • Livability score: 87
  • Germantown
    • Median list price: $425,000
    • Livability score: 87
  • Collierville
    • Median list price: $489,900
    • Livability score: 87
  • Hendersonville
    • Median list price: $350,000
    • Livability score: 85
  • Franklin
    • Median list price: $579,900
    • Livability score: 85

Texas

  • Seabrook
    • Median list price: $310,419
    • Livability score: 96
  • Lake Jackson
    • Median list price: $229,900
    • Livability score: 95
  • Cinco Ranch
    • Median list price: $375,000
    • Livability score: 93
  • Keller
    • Median list price: $467,000
    • Livability score: 92
  • Deer Park
    • Median list price: $227,000
    • Livability score: 92
  • Pflugerville
    • Median list price: $277,945
    • Livability score: 92

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Utah

  • South Ogden
    • Median list price: $249,000
    • Livability score: 79
  • Layton
    • Median list price: $345,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Holladay
    • Median list price: $652,450
    • Livability score: 78
  • Centerville
    • Median list price: $349,900
    • Livability score: 77
  • Spanish Fork
    • Median list price: $319,950
    • Livability score: 76
  • Lehi
    • Median list price: $371,383
    • Livability score: 76
  • Bountiful
    • Median list price: $389,950
    • Livability score: 76

Vermont

  • South Burlington
    • Median list price: $382,900
    • Livability score: 71
  • Montpelier
    • Median list price: $282,500
    • Livability score: 68
  • Burlington
    • Median list price: $349,000
    • Livability score: 63
  • Bennington
    • Median list price: $149,000
    • Livability score: 63
  • Brattleboro
    • Median list price: $221,000
    • Livability score: 62

Virginia

  • Bon Air
    • Median list price: $264,500
    • Livability score: 83
  • Salem
    • Median list price: $229,900
    • Livability score: 82
  • Mechanicsville
    • Median list price: $342,950
    • Livability score: 81
  • Staunton
    • Median list price: $210,500
    • Livability score: 80
  • Glen Allen
    • Median list price: $389,000
    • Livability score: 80

Washington

  • Richland
    • Median list price: $379,500
    • Livability score: 84
  • Maple Valley
    • Median list price: $595,000
    • Livability score: 82
  • Camas
    • Median list price: $541,090
    • Livability score: 81
  • Mercer Island
    • Median list price: $1,849,500
    • Livability score: 80
  • Sammamish
    • Median list price: $1,099,995
    • Livability score: 80

West Virginia

  • Vienna
    • Median list price: $173,500
    • Livability score: 77
  • Morgantown
    • Median list price: $225,000
    • Livability score: 74
  • Weirton
    • Median list price: $91,239
    • Livability score: 74
  • Fairmont
    • Median list price: $127,750
    • Livability score: 72
  • Wheeling
    • Median list price: $135,000
    • Livability score: 68

Wisconsin

  • De Pere
    • Median list price: $269,900
    • Livability score: 84
  • Cedarburg
    • Median list price: $343,500
    • Livability score: 83
  • Whitefish Bay
    • Median list price: $450,000
    • Livability score: 82
  • Greendale
    • Median list price: $244,900
    • Livability score: 82
  • Grafton
    • Median list price: $259,900
    • Livability score: 82

Wyoming

  • Gillette
    • Median list price: $239,700
    • Livability score: 80
  • Sheridan
    • Median list price: $279,000
    • Livability score: 78
  • Green River
    • Median list price: $232,900
    • Livability score: 76
  • Rock Springs
    • Median list price: $242,269
    • Livability score: 72
  • Casper
    • Median list price: $210,000
    • Livability score: 72

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Methodology: GOBankingRates looked at the cities in every state that have (1) a population between 10,000 and 75,000, according to AreaVibes, and (2) information on the median list price of homes in their area available from Zillow. GOBankingRates then ranked the cities in every state that met the above criteria by their livability scores from AreaVibes. This allowed GOBankingRates to identify the five “hidden gem” cities in every state with the highest livability scores. For states where multiple cities had the same livability score as the No. 5 city, all tied cities were included. The population requirement was relaxed to include cities with a population of over 5,000 in states where there were too few cities to meet the original criteria. States for which the population requirement was relaxed include Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky, Vermont and Virginia. AreaVibes’ scores for each city’s amenities, cost of living, crime, employment, housing, school and weather are included as supplemental data. All data used to conduct this study was compiled and verified between Dec. 27-30, 2019, and is subject to change.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Don’t Overlook These Hidden Gem Cities With a High Quality of Life