best small towns in us - Northhampton

Best Small Towns in America

In the age-old debate of small-town vs. big-city living, these towns stand as an emblem of the joys and simplicity that come with the former.

As you explore the vastness of America, the heart of this great nation can be discovered through the small towns scattered across its landscape. Many of these towns offer unique charm, coupled with the promise of stable job opportunities and the benefits of a close-knit community.

Listed below are 10 of the best small towns in America, where the color of life finds expression in the blend of community, local culture and economic promise. These towns not only provide their residents a slower pace of life away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas but also the proximity to larger cities and the promise of solid career growth opportunities.

Ashland, Oregon

Aerial view of Ashland Oregon, one of America

  • Population: 21,607
  • Average age: 45.2
  • Median household income: $63,641
  • Average commute time: 17.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $1,295
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,275
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $N/A

In the heart of the Pacific Northwest, nestled within the impossibly green landscape of Southern Oregon, lies the enchanting town of Ashland. With its idyllic natural setting, surrounded by rolling hills, forests and the stunning Siskiyou Mountains, Ashland boasts the best of both worlds — a serene, small-town atmosphere combined with a thriving cultural and culinary scene.

The town’s charming downtown area is dotted with artisanal boutiques, trendy eateries and quirky cafes that draw in locals and visitors alike, making it a thriving community hub.

Ashland’s greatest claim to fame is perhaps the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which draws theater enthusiasts from all over the country. The festival is a testament to Ashland’s rich cultural heritage and adds a certain artistic flair to the town.

The town’s proximity to outdoor attractions like Crater Lake, Mount Ashland and the Rogue River ensures that residents have access to a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Additionally, Ashland’s position along the I-5 corridor puts residents within easy reach of major cities like Portland and San Francisco, making it an ideal spot for those who yearn for that perfect work-life balance.

Boulder City, Nevada

Lake Meade at sunset in Boulder City, Nevada

  • Population: 14,879
  • Average age: 52.7
  • Median household income: $69,746
  • Average commute time: 24.3 minutes
  • Walk score: N/A
  • Studio average rent: $1,225
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,060
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,340

Boulder City is a hidden gem that has a lot more to offer than its reputation as the home of Hoover Dam might suggest. Situated just a short drive from the neon allure of Las Vegas, Boulder City is an oasis of calm and relaxation thanks to its absolutely stunning natural surroundings.

The town exudes an air of nostalgia with its quaint, historic buildings and a laid-back atmosphere that offers a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Sin City off in the distance.

Boulder City strikes a unique balance between nature and culture. Situated in close proximity to Lake Mead and the Colorado River, the town offers a multitude of recreational opportunities for water enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

Employment opportunities are abundant as well, largely due to its location near Las Vegas and the presence of the Hoover Dam. The town’s economy benefits from tourism and a robust service industry, with a steady stream of visitors coming to explore the engineering marvel that is the dam and the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Durango, Colorado

View from up on a hill looking down on the leaves changing in Durango, Colorado, one of the best small towns in America

  • Population: 19,223
  • Average age: 36.4
  • Median household income: $68,550
  • Average commute time: 15.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 37
  • Studio average rent: $1,570
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,032
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,837

Nestled amidst the stunning San Juan Mountains, Durango is an exquisite blend of outdoor splendor and small-town authenticity. This picturesque town has all the charm of a close-knit community, coupled with a bounty of recreational activities that can satiate even the most avid outdoor enthusiasts.

From the winding Animas River that courses through town, to the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that takes passengers on a breathtaking journey through the mountains, Durango is a town that seamlessly melds the past with the present. It’s a town where the streets are lined with a delightful mix of antique stores, craft breweries and art galleries that showcase the work of local artists, all of which come together to create an atmosphere that’s both relaxed and invigorating.

As a bonus, Durango is also an economic hub for the region, attracting entrepreneurs and professionals seeking a more laid-back lifestyle without sacrificing career opportunities. The town’s robust tourism industry is fueled by its many outdoor offerings, from world-class mountain biking and skiing to fishing and hiking in the surrounding wilderness. With a strong service sector and a growing technology scene, Durango has employment options that are as diverse as its outdoor offerings.

Its proximity to larger cities like Albuquerque and Denver means that residents can access urban amenities when needed, but still enjoy the peace and quiet of small-town life.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Spanish-inspired architecture at the public library in Fredericksburg

  • Population: 11,072
  • Average age: 47.1
  • Median household income: $54,771
  • Average commute time: 20.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 55

Fredericksburg stands as a remarkable blend of Texan hospitality and German heritage, offering an exceptional small-town experience that’s steeped in history and culture. The town’s main street is lined with historic limestone buildings, hosting a myriad of local boutiques, restaurants and wineries that evoke the feel of a European village, all while maintaining a distinctly Texan flavor.

The strong sense of community is palpable as residents come together to celebrate their shared history through festivals and events like the beloved Oktoberfest, a nod to the town’s German roots. It’s a town that invites you to slow down and savor the simple pleasures of life, whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine from one of the many local vineyards or indulging in traditional German fare.

Fredericksburg offers not only a unique cultural experience but also a wealth of recreational opportunities. Its proximity to the picturesque Texas Hill Country means residents have access to scenic hikes, bike trails and the serene waters of the Pedernales River.

The town’s economy is fueled by a thriving tourism industry, with visitors flocking to explore its historic sites, savor its culinary delights and partake in its many festivals. The influx of tourists has led to a strong service sector, providing ample employment opportunities for residents. In addition, Fredericksburg’s location near larger cities like San Antonio and Austin ensures that residents have access to urban amenities while enjoying the tranquility of small-town living.

Leavenworth, Washington

Gorgeous day in the scenic riverside city of Leavenworth, Washington

  • Population: 2,383
  • Average age: 40.4
  • Median household income: $60,982
  • Average commute time: 18.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 39

Leavenworth is a small town that transports visitors straight to the Bavarian Alps, without ever leaving the Pacific Northwest. It’s a town where the architecture, food and festivals reflect the traditions of Bavaria, creating a unique and delightful atmosphere that sets it apart from other towns.

As you stroll down the streets lined with timber-framed buildings, you can’t help but be charmed by the art galleries, German-inspired cafes and local boutiques that beckon you to explore. It’s a town where you can enjoy an authentic bratwurst or a hearty schnitzel, accompanied by a locally brewed beer, all while being enveloped by the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Leavenworth offers residents and visitors a remarkable array of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and river rafting in the summer.

The town’s tourism-centric economy creates numerous employment opportunities in the service and hospitality sectors, as visitors are drawn to Leavenworth’s unique blend of Bavarian charm and natural splendor. Additionally, its proximity to larger cities like Seattle and Spokane means that residents have easy access to urban amenities, while still enjoying the serene, mountainous landscape of small-town living.

Northampton, Massachusetts

Aerial view of Northampton, MA on a clear and sunny day

  • Population: 29,311
  • Average age: 40
  • Median household income: $72,687
  • Average commute time: 21.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,250
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $N/A

A charming town in the picturesque Pioneer Valley, Northampton is a hub of creativity and intellectual enthusiasm that’s hard to find elsewhere. With a bevy of art galleries, music venues and theaters, the town is a haven for artists, musicians and freethinkers alike. The local food scene is a delightful mélange of cuisines, offering everything from farm-to-table fare to international delights, and the independent boutiques lining the streets provide a unique shopping experience.

With the prestigious Smith College at its core, Northampton is a town where curiosity and intellectual discourse are part of the daily conversation, making it a destination for those seeking a community of like-minded individuals.

As one of the best small towns in America, Northampton has a lot to offer its residents in terms of quality of life and employment. The town’s strong commitment to supporting local businesses and sustainable practices has led to a thriving economy, with ample job opportunities in education, retail and the arts.

The town’s location along the Connecticut River and proximity to the Holyoke Range provide residents with a wealth of outdoor recreational activities, from hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing. Furthermore, Northampton’s central location in the Pioneer Valley means that residents are within easy reach of larger cities like Springfield and Boston, plus other notable towns such as Amherst and Easthampton.

Port Townsend, Washington

Beachside buildings in Port Townsend, one of Washingtons coolest small towns

  • Population: 10,306
  • Average age: 55.9
  • Median household income: $54,907
  • Average commute time: 14.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 81
  • Studio average rent: $N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,995

Perched on the northeastern tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend is a historic town that exudes an atmosphere of maritime charm and understated elegance. Its well-preserved, Victorian-era buildings, many of which date back to the late 19th century, house an array of local boutiques, art galleries and waterfront restaurants, adding to the town’s distinct character.

Visitors can’t help but be captivated by the nautical heritage of Port Townsend, as the town’s boat-building culture and annual Wooden Boat Festival pay homage to its maritime roots. Add to that the diverse cultural offerings, from film festivals to music events, and it’s easy to see why this town is an inviting destination for artists and boating enthusiasts alike.

Port Townsend boasts an added bonus for its residents. The town’s location along the shores of Puget Sound, coupled with its proximity to the Olympic National Park, provides an array of recreational opportunities, from sailing and kayaking to hiking and so much more.

The economy is driven by tourism and a strong maritime industry, offering ample employment opportunities for those interested in boat-building, the arts or the service sector. Moreover, the town’s position along the Olympic Peninsula means it is within easy reach of larger cities such as Seattle and Tacoma, making it an ideal location for those seeking a balance between small-town living and urban amenities.

Saratoga Springs, New York

People walking on a well-maintained path in Saratoga Springs, a great place in New York to call home

  • Population: 28,301
  • Average age: 41.4
  • Median household income: $90,000
  • Average commute time: 25.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 41
  • Studio average rent: $2,106
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,705
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,100

Saratoga Springs is a town that effortlessly combines the allure of history with modern-day sophistication. Known for its world-class horse racing and serene mineral springs, Saratoga Springs offers a unique blend of experiences that are both stimulating and relaxing. The town is home to the Saratoga Race Course, which has played host to prestigious horse racing events for over a century, drawing visitors from all over the world.

Its historic downtown, lined with Victorian-era architecture, houses a plethora of eclectic shops, art galleries, and upscale eateries that cater to a discerning clientele. In addition, the town is famed for its mineral springs, which have attracted visitors seeking health and wellness for generations.

As one of America’s best-loved small towns, Saratoga Springs offers residents all the enviable extras that both visitors and residents have come to enjoy. Its strong tourism industry, driven by horse racing and its reputation as a health resort, provides ample employment opportunities in the hospitality and service sectors. The town is committed to the arts and hosts Saratoga Performing Arts Center as well as the annual Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Moreover, its location within the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains offers residents access to a multitude of outdoor recreational activities, from hiking and skiing to fishing and boating. In addition, Saratoga Springs’ proximity to major cities like Albany and New York City ensures that residents can stay connected while enjoying the luxury of unplugging every time they come home.

Sausalito, California

Gorgeous oceanside boardwalk in the small town of Sausalito, CA

  • Population: 7,199
  • Average age: 55.3
  • Median household income: $140,417
  • Average commute time: 30.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 86
  • Studio average rent: $2,150
  • One-bedroom average rent: $3,895
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $4,500

Sausalito is a charming coastal town that offers an irresistible mix of scenic beauty and bohemian flair. Perched on the northern edge of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito is renowned for its stunning views of the San Francisco skyline, the bay and the bridge itself.

The town’s waterfront is lined with houseboats, art studios and seafood restaurants that invite visitors to soak in the atmosphere of this laid-back, artistic enclave. Sausalito’s Mediterranean-inspired architecture and lush gardens evoke the ambiance of a European seaside town, while its thriving arts scene, from galleries to music festivals, showcases the creativity of its residents.

The town’s economy is fueled by a robust tourism industry, with visitors drawn to its picturesque setting, artsy vibe and quick commute to San Francisco. This translates into ample employment opportunities in the arts, hospitality and service sectors.

Furthermore, Sausalito’s location within the San Francisco Bay Area means that residents have easy access to the amenities and job opportunities of larger cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Its proximity to the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods provides an abundance of recreational options, from hiking and mountain biking to exploring the pristine wilderness.

Woodstock, Vermont

Red brick buildings in downtown Woodstock, Vermont

  • Population: 2,937
  • Average age: 49
  • Median household income: $104,716
  • Average commute time: 22 minutes
  • Walk score: 29
  • Studio average rent: $N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,750

Woodstock is a quintessential New England town that embodies the charm and scenic beauty for which the region is renowned. Its historic downtown, with its well-preserved 19th-century buildings, is home to a healthy selection of independent boutiques, galleries and farm-to-table restaurants, all set against the backdrop of the picturesque Ottauquechee River.

The town’s iconic covered bridges, lush landscapes and vibrant foliage in the fall are a visual feast, evoking a sense of timelessness and tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. Woodstock’s robust calendar of events, including the traditional Wassail Weekend and the Harvest Festival, showcases the town’s strong sense of community and its commitment to preserving its heritage.

As one of the best small towns in America, Woodstock offers its residents an exceptional quality of life. The town’s thriving tourism industry, fueled by its historic charm and natural beauty, provides ample employment opportunities in the hospitality, service and retail industries. The town is also home to a number of artisanal food producers, who take advantage of the region’s rich agricultural resources to create high-quality, locally sourced products.

Additionally, Woodstock’s location within the Green Mountains gives residents a wealth of recreational activities, from hiking and skiing to fishing and kayaking. Its proximity to larger cities like Burlington and Manchester ensures that residents have easy access to urban amenities, while still enjoying the peacefulness of small-town living.

Settle down in one of America’s best small towns

In a country as expansive as America, the small towns featured above stand out as undeniable gems, each offering unique cultural experiences and lifestyle choices. The best small towns in America provide a perfect blend of community, economic promise and in many cases, close proximity to larger cities. It is through these regional experiences that the essence of America’s diverse culture and heritage shines through, each town narrating its story in a way that only it can.

These towns are not only a testimony to America’s rich culture but also a beacon for those seeking a balanced, fulfilling life, where the community is an extended family and the stillness of bygone days still has a place amid the modern noise.

Ready to stake your claim in one of the small towns featured above? Start your search right here.

Rent prices are based on an average from Rent.’s available rental property inventory as of July 2023. The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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