If you live in a big city, you may have caught yourself wondering what it’s like living in a small town free from the hustle and bustle, incessant sounds and high cost of living. If so, you’re not alone. In fact, the idea of migrating to a micropolitan (urban areas with 10,000-50,000 residents) is becoming increasingly popular.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, health and economic concerns have many city dwellers considering more rural areas, like micropolitans, as an option. A recent survey by The Harris Poll revealed that 39% of urbanites have considered leaving their city to live in a less crowded area, and 21% of people had recently checked a real estate site to rent or buy a house in a rural spot.
A lower risk of exposure to COVID-19 in less populated areas is not the only appeal of small-town living. Micropolitans often promise safety, quality education, affordable housing and a better work-life balance. If you’re considering a move, not only do we have you covered for your home insurance needs, we’ve done all of the homework on small-town living. Read on, or skip to our infographic, to find out the best micropolitans to move to in 2020.
While there are 542 micropolitans in the U.S., we determined the top micropolitan areas to live in based on a few important categories: housing, income, employment, education and health. If you’re considering giving small-town living a try, based on all of the factors listed above, we found that the best micropolitan in the U.S. is Juneau, Alaska. Juneau scored the highest for the number of owner-occupied homes, median income, employment rate, education expenditure per student and air quality.
Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska, is actually the second-largest city by area in the United States – but still meets the requirements of a micropolitan. Since Juneau is inaccessible by road, it’s the perfect place to hunker down if you’re looking for both a beautiful and wholesome town off the beaten path.
Here’s our list of the top 10 micropolitans in the U.S.:
After analyzing multiple factors to determine what cities were best overall, we took a closer look to identify which micropolitans could be the best for an individual’s specific lifestyle. After all, when it comes to planting your roots, one pot doesn’t fit all!
Clovis, New Mexico is rated the number-one place for families on our list, with the highest number of family households at 9,933.
With 78.4% of the population made up of families, Clovis proves to be a great place to settle down. Clovis also boasts a diverse culture with several museums and historic sites that make for great family activities.
Additional family-oriented metrics:
Ellensburg, Washington ranks number one for the best place for young adults, with the average age of residents being 24 years old! This rural western town is best known for the Ellensburg Rodeo, which is one of the top 10 in the U.S, and its historic downtown area is like a scene out of a western film.
It’s no wonder post-grads and young adults populate Ellensburg, as it’s filled with rich art, history and delicious food. What more could a 24-year old want?
Additional youth-related metrics:
If you’re looking for a new job or place to have a secure career, consider Williston, North Dakota. With an unemployment rate of only 2.1% (the national average is 3.9%), Williston may be a place to secure and keep a job – which is more important than ever given the current economic recession.
In fact, the energy industry is especially lucrative in Williston; North Dakota is the second-largest producer of oil in the country, averaging more than 500,000 barrels every day. The state’s largest wind farm is also located in Williston, creating jobs for its residents.
Additional career-related metrics:
Air pollution continues to be a major problem across the globe, resulting in 4.2 deaths per year. Air pollution can be especially problematic for people who love spending time outside.
Outdoor enthusiasts, meet Berlin, New Hampshire. This micropolitan has an impressive air quality score of 92.3 (a score of 100 is the best) – making it number one on our list for those who like being outdoors.
As we spend more time at home, investing in property and becoming a homeowner might be top of mind for you. We found that Torrington, Connecticut is the best small town to buy a home, with the highest number of owner-occupied housing units totaling 15,607, compared to other cities that have a high housing vacancy or rental number.
We can infer from this data that homeowners are purchasing properties to satisfy their own housing needs, and not renting them out to others in order to cover the mortgage or to make a profit. Torrington homeowners seem to love their properties enough to stay in them – which may have something to do with the reasonable average sale price of $146K for a home there.
Additional housing metrics:
When it comes to education expenditure per student, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts invests the most funds into each of their student’s educational programs and resources. While the national average for education expenditure per student is $13,600, Vineyard Haven invests $21,679 per full-time student.
Education expenditures go towards operation costs, salaries and benefits for employees engaged in instruction, guidance counseling, textbooks and transportation, to name a few. Simply put, the more an area spends on education expenditure per student, the more resources each student will have to help them succeed and get the most out of school.
Additional education-related metrics:
If you’re thinking about trading in your urban upbringing for a rural roots, relocating to a micropolitan might literally be the best move for you. From outdoorsy to career-driven individuals, there’s a small town for everyone. If moving to a new home is in your future, make sure to check out the best home insurance rates for your future ZIP code.
In order to determine the best micropolitan cities across the U.S., The Zebra compared data from a sample of the top 40 most populated micropolitans. We rated each city on a weighted scale of factors within these five categories: Employment, income, education, health and housing.
The micropolitan who earned the highest score from the sum of these factors was chosen as the best small-town to move to in the United States. See how we weighted each category below:
Employment — 25 points
Employment rate of residents
Income — 20 points
Median income earned for residents
Education — 20 points
The amount of education expenditure per student
Health — 20 points
Air quality rating
Housing — 15 points
Number of owner-occupied housing units
Similarly, to find the best micropolitans for every lifestyle we compiled and reviewed data on the following: Average age, owner-occupied units, family households, education expenditure, employment rate, air quality, and diversity.The micropolitan that held the highest number, average, or percentage within each category was determined the winner.