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Find Your City’s Twin (According to Data)

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Each year, more than 1 in 10 people move, yet the majority of these people migrate within their own state. In fact, 85% of intercity moves don’t involve crossing state lines. The fact is, most people prefer what they’re familiar with. So if you’re facing a relocation for a job, or have always dreamed of a move to a certain city — but aren’t quite ready — we’ve compiled a list of fantastic “twin towns” for you to consider. Familiar surroundings make it easier to turn your new house into a home.  

We analyzed the population density, mean temperature, median home price, and top activities in the 100 most populous cities in the United States. Then we compared those cities to the 10 best places to live in the country to find the lesser-known city twins that might be perfect destinations for your move.  

Jump to your city: 

Austin

1. Austin, Texas

Many know this Texas town as the Live Music Capital of the World. Offering a lively bar scene, unique green spaces, and plentiful job opportunities within its emerging tech industry, it’s no surprise Austin has been one of America’s fastest-growing cities for the past eight years. 

However, Austin’s status as one of the best places to live means rent prices have soared 92.6% over the past decade. Many Austinites are swapping the longstanding motto “Keep Austin Weird” for a new phrase: Please stop moving here

Here are a few places to move: 

Twin city: Phoenix, Arizona

Also the capital of its state, Phoenix shares Austin’s outdoorsy lifestyle and appreciation for nightlife. Those who appreciate Austin’s warm weather and plentiful cacti will feel right at home in this desert city. 

Similarities:

  • Population Density: 1,300 people/km² compared to Austin’s 1,226 people/km² 
  • Median Home Price: $252,000 compared to Austin’s $290,000

Differences: 

  • Humidity: Phoenix’s is much lower, averaging 37%, while Austin averages 67%. 
  • Mean Temperature: Phoenix is hotter, averaging 74.6°F compared to Austin’s 69°F.

Like Austin, but colder: Spokane, Washington

This pacific northwest town captures much of Austin’s free-spirited attitude and appreciation for the arts, all at a temperature 21.9 degrees cooler on average than Austin. 

Denver

2. Denver, Colorado

Denver stands out for its near 300 days of sunshine a year and diverse, cultured population. In fact, 22% of Denverites are millennials, giving rise to an open-minded culture and a vibrant nightlife. Though it’s known as the Mile High City, Denver isn’t actually in the mountains. Due to recent surges in population and housing demand, an average Denver home will set you back $383,000

If you’re looking for a similar city, check out these options: 

Twin city: Tacoma, Washington

Across all metrics, these two cities were the closest match. Though Tacoma’s overall population is less than Denver’s, the cities may feel similar due to nearly identical population densities. Both cities also boast gorgeous skylines backed by mountains. 

Similarities: 

  • Population Density: 1,753 people/km² compared to Denver’s 1,877 people/km² 
  • Mean Temperature:  51.1°F compared to Denver’s 50.3°F
  • Median home price: $342,201 compared to Denver’s $383,000

Differences:

  • Sunshine: You’ll see only around 144 sunny days per year in Tacoma.
  • Size: With 745,172 people, Denver’s total population is more than triple Tacoma’s population of 225,745.

Like Denver, but warmer: Fresno, California

This city in California’s San Joaquin Valley sits at the base of the Diablo mountain range, lending the city a similar feel to Denver, with a much warmer temperature. Fresno is on average 12.2 degrees warmer than Denver. Though about as dense as Denver, Fresno also has the added benefit of being slightly less expensive, as the average home price is $250,000.

Colorado Springs

3. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs sits just an hour away from Denver, nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. With the popular hiking spot Pike’s Peak closeby, many of this city’s residents are nature lovers. 

With a population density about half that of Denver’s, Colorado Springs feels a bit slower-paced to many who live there. In fact, more than 10% of the population is over 65. While not as large as other cities in the Mountain West region, Colorado Springs’ proximity to the mountains and cultural offerings make it a pleasant place to call home. 

For those looking for another adventure-loving city to call home, check out Colorado Springs’ twins: 

Twin city: Boise, Idaho

Those who love Colorado Springs for its many outdoor adventures would likely find much to do in Boise. The city has more than 180 miles of public trails winding through the surrounding nature, and art aficionados will appreciate the city’s many cultural offerings, including the Boise Opera House. 

Similarities: 

  • Population Density: 1,105 people/km², compared to Colorado Springs’ 998 people/km² 
  • Mean Temperature: 52.5°F compared to Colorado Springs 50.1°F
  • Median price: $260,000 compared to Colorado Springs $280,000

Differences:  

  • Location: While Colorado Springs sits near another major city, Boise is more remote.
  • Lower cost of living: The overall cost of living in Boise is less than in Colorado Springs. U.S. News and World Report sets Boise’s cost index at 7.1, and Colorado Springs at 6.6.

Like Colorado Springs, but warmer: North Las Vegas

Though it may be hard to believe, once you swap Colorado Springs’ pines for the desert,  North Las Vegas starts to look like a near-match. Each city offers housing in the upper $200K range with a slightly less dense feel than more populous neighbors. The main difference is that North Las Vegas is on average 16 degrees warmer than Colorado Springs.

Fayetteville

4. Fayetteville, Arkansas

With just 86,751 residents, this southern city feels a bit more like a small town than many on our list. Its southern hospitality and small size mean the people are known for being welcoming and friendly. 

The University of Arkansas enrolls around 27,778 students each fall, playing a major part in influencing the city’s culture, economy, and love of football. 

Though you may not be able to find a match for the famous Fayetteville barbeque, here are some twin cities that could appeal to you: 

Fayetteville’s twin city: Lexington, Kentucky

Known as the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Kentucky, certainly feels just as part of the south as Fayetteville does. Both cities make great hometowns for those who like a slightly smaller city and a connection to sports. College sports fans will love Lexington, which is home to the University of Kentucky. 

Similarities: 

  • College towns: Each hosts a major university
  • Mean temperature: 55.9°F compared to Fayetteville’s 56.9°F
  • Median home price: $196,685 compared to Fayetteville’s $218,094

Differences: 

  • Population density: With a density of only 454 people/km² Lexington is a bit more spread out than Fayetteville at 619.97 people/ km².
  • Size: Though similar in Density, Louisville is much larger, with a population of 1,278,203 compared to Fayetteville’s 514,166. 

Like Fayetteville, but larger: Richmond, Virginia

Despite being more than twice the size of Fayetteville, the historic town of Richmond, Virginia, offers similar home prices and a more dense feel. Both cities also enjoy temperate mean temperatures around the upper 50s and host a number of college students. However, Fayetteville’s median age is younger at 33.9 years, while Richmond averages 38.5.

Des Moines

5. Des Moines, Iowa

This underrated Midwestern city earns its spot on the Best Places to Live list as a hidden gem. Though some might associate Iowa with cornfields and farmland, Des Moines offers a hip downtown center attractive to younger citizens, enriched by its initiatives in support of artists

Your money will go further in Des Moines, with the average house running just $148,040. This makes the city a wallet-savvy place to call home for young professionals, startups, and artists. 

Here are a few cities that offer much the same as Des Moines: 

Twin city: Fort Wayne, Indiana

It should come as little surprise that Des Moines finds its match in another midwestern town. Though it’s the second-largest city in Indiana, Fort Wayne still feels remote, as it’s at least a hundred miles from the nearest large city. Those who appreciate Des Moines for its support of the arts may find Fort Wayne offers similar charm. The city’s yearly BuskerFest is a celebration of street performers with dances, acts, and jugglers. 

Similarities: 

  • Population density: 947 people/km², compared to Des Moines’ 972 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 50.3°F compared to Des Moines’ 49.2°F
  • Median home price: $144,660 compared to Des Moines’ $148,040

Differences:  

  • Cost of living: Fort Wayne may be cheaper to live in overall, it was recently named the city with the lowest cost of living in the U.S.
  • Job market: Des Moines’ job market is dominated by insurance companies, while Fort Wayne’s economy sees many more auto and defense manufacturers.

Like Des Moines, but warmer: Lubbock, Texas

At an average of 10 degrees warmer year-round, this West Texas town is known as the home of Texas Tech University and the birthplace of Buddy Holly. The low cost of living and warm weather make Lubbock an excellent alternative for those interested in Des Moines. 

Minneapolis

6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Though these cities are already a geographic pair, there’s no reason we can’t find another match for them. Established along the Mississippi River, the Twin Cities area is a thriving cultural center, offering a mix of midwestern charm and offbeat culture. 

Along with a booming music and theater scene, the Minnesota metropolis offers the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the largest urban sculpture garden in the country. 

Though Minneapolis and St. Paul can see winter weather in the negatives, residents can make use of each downtown’s 47 blocks of linked indoor skyways. 

Here are a few of the cities similar to this pair: 

Twin City: St. Louis, Missouri

Home to the iconic Gateway Arch, St. Louis is also known for being incredibly affordable. St. Louis also offers more free attractions like museums and parks than any other city outside of Washington, D.C.  

Similarities:

  • Population density: 1,854 people/km² compared to Minneapolis’ 2,646 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 57.2°F compared to Minneapolis’ 56.9°F
  • Both cities are attractive to families. The median age in Minneapolis is slightly higher than others on our list at 36.8, and St. Louis’ median age is 39. 

Differences:

  • Median home price: St. Louis’ home price of $157,000 is more affordable than Minneapolis’ $286,055.
  • Warmer winters: The winter months in St Louis are milder, with the average low hitting 32 degrees, whereas Minneapolis is likely to see temperatures around 18 degrees. 

Like Minneapolis-St. Paul, but smaller: Columbus, Ohio

For those who find the hustle and bustle of 3.28 million people to be too much, Columbus, Ohio, offers a slightly slower pace of life. There’s nearly a thousand fewer people in every square kilometer in Columbus versus Minneapolis-St. Paul. Its similar weather lends Columbus a familiar feel to the twin cities in a slightly smaller and more affordable package. 

San Francisco

7. San Francisco, California

There’s plenty to do in the City by The Bay, from dining in one of the city’s 59 Michelin-starred restaurants to taking in one of the many museums, you’ll never be bored in this bustling hub. 

Large tech companies headquartered in San Francisco, like Twitter and Salesforce, drive a thriving and competitive economy.  

The median home price is the highest of any on our list, coming in at a staggering $1,392,859. The cost of living is high in the city, meaning many full-time residents are driven, single professionals. In fact, 52% of men in the city are single.

Here are a few cities like the vibrant and eclectic San Francisco:

Twin city: Washington, D.C.

Just as San Francisco serves as a hub for the largest industries in the United States, it makes sense that this city’s twin is also a major center for another institution: politics. As the nation’s capital and political center, Washington D.C., like San Francisco, is home to many driven young professionals. Due to their large concentrations of wealth, both D.C. and San Francisco have an extremely high cost of living. Each of these historic cities attracts a large number of tourists. Nearly 22 million domestic tourists visit the District of Columbia each year.

Similarities:

  • Population density: 4,574 people/km² compared to San Francisco’s 7,461 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 55°F compared to San Francisco’s 57.5°F
  • Few children: San Francisco is home to the fewest children of any major U.S. city: only 13% of its population is under 18. D.C. is not far behind, as kids make up only 18% of its population.

Differences:

  • Median home price: Although still pricey, Washington D.C.’s home price of $636,372 is more affordable compared to San Francisco’s $1,392,859.
  • Access to the coast: San Francisco’s weather and beauty is enhanced by its location on the coast, while Washington D.C.’s primary water access is the Potomac River. 

Like San Francisco, but less expensive: Baltimore, Maryland

Sitting on the Patapsco River, Baltimore offers similar waterfront views in a large city — at a much more affordable price. The average San Franciscan homeowner could afford to buy nearly ten homes in Baltimore, at just $149,959 apiece. 

Portland

8. Portland, Oregon

There’s a reason many know this city for its eccentric culture. The city’s playful spirit can be seen everywhere from its colorful street art to its innovative city planning. Portland is home to both one of the country’s largest urban gardens — and whimsically, one of the smallest at just two feet wide.

For dining, Portland offers a unique collection of hundreds of food carts across the metro area. The city also boasts around 85 local breweries and has been named the craft beer capital of the world. 

The young, socially conscious citizens of Portland contribute to the city’s status as the best city for vegans in the country. 

For those attracted to an eclectic city lifestyle, here are Portland’s twin cities: 

Twin city: Sacramento, California

It’s hard to capture the City of Roses’ unique atmosphere, so it may come as a surprise that this Capital of California is Portland’s twin. Aside from similar mild temperatures and dense city centers, both Portland and Sacramento offer low rates of unemployment and growing economies. Those looking for a touch of Portland’s odd character will find it in the city’s hippest neighborhoods. In fact, Sacramento was named the fourth most hipster city in the nation in 2016. 

Similarities: 

  • Population density: 2,054 people/km² compared to Portland’s 1,958 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 61.4°F compared to Portland’s 54.4°F
  • Median home price: $375,000 compared to Portland’s $370,000

Differences:  

  • Access to the coast: Sacramento is located several hours away from the nearest coast. 
  • Fewer craft breweries: Though Sacramento does appreciate its craft beers, with only around 50 local breweries, the true beer sommelier may miss Portland’s variety. 

Like Portland, but warmer: Las Vegas, Nevada 

Aside from the strip Las Vegas Boulevard that gave Sin City its nickname, Las Vegas has much to offer. The arts district is the perfect place to explore galleries and performance spaces, and there are numerous state parks in the surrounding area for outdoor lovers. Las Vegas’s population density and eclectic activities are similar to Portland’s, though the average temperature is 15 degrees warmer. 

Seattle

9. Seattle, Washington

On the edge of the Pacific Ocean and just a few hours from Mount Rainier and the Cascades mountain range, many Seattle residents are attracted to the natural beauty of the city. 

Though it’s well-known that the city experiences cloudy skies more often than not, summers are frequently rainless and sunny. Due to the protection of the mountains and air currents from the ocean, Seattle enjoys both relatively mild winters and pleasant summers.

Seattlites hold a diverse range of leisure interests. Eighty percent of adults hold library cards, the highest number in any city. They’re also passionate about their football team the Seahawks, and hold the title of seventh most loyal fanbase in the country.

You can still be a Seahawks fan from afar in one of these twin cities: 

Twin city: Chicago, Illinois

Like Seattle, Chicago is often characterized by its weather — but don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all the Windy City has to offer. From spending a day exploring the Art Institute of Chicago, to walking along the lakefront trail, or catching an improv show at Second City, there’s plenty to do here. Both cities’ job landscapes share a connection in the airplane manufacturer Boeing. Seattle is Boeing’s former headquarters and still produces planes, while Boeing’s current headquarters lay in Chicago. 

Similarities: 

  • Population density: 4,535 people/km² compared to Seattle’s 3,628 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 50.7°F compared to Seattle’s 53.4°F
  • Great food: Both cities rank in the top 10 best foodie cities in the U.S.

Differences: 

  • Median home price: Chicago’s homes are much more affordable at $242,601 compared to Seattle’s $430,000.
  • More extreme weather: Chicago’s seasonal temperatures get higher and lower than Seattle. While you can expect temperatures between the 40s and 70s year-round in Seattle, Chicago sees low’s in the teens and summers in the 80s. 

Like Seattle, but smaller: Baltimore, Maryland

Though still a large city, Baltimore is a bit smaller than Seattle, with a population of 2,792,050. Those who love Seattle’s seaside views will appreciate Baltimore’s location on the Patapsco River. Known as Charm City, Baltimore offers many art museums and natural trails. Like Seattle, seafood is a major part of local cuisine. Both boast mild year-round temperatures, though you may be able to purchase a home for a lower cost of around $248,000 in Baltimore. 

Raleigh

10. Raleigh, North Carolina

Known as the City of Oaks, Raleigh is one of the oldest cities on the list. Founded in 1792, Raleigh is home to several interesting historic sites including the North Carolina State Capitol and the Pope House Museum.

Raleigh is located within the “The Triangle,” the area between three local universities. This proximity to a highly educated workforce has given rise to many startups, tech companies, and medical innovations. 

Raleigh’s twin cities: 

Twin city: Irving, Texas

Just as Raleigh benefits from its close neighbors Durham and Chapel Hill, Irving is also well-located near its metropolitan neighbors, Dallas and Fort Worth. Irving’s low cost of living and high quality of life attract many families to the area. Due to strong local economies, both Irving and Raleigh enjoy an unemployment rate below the national average at 3.4%. One of the largest employers in Irving is the hotel industry, which employs around 14,000 people each year. 

Similarities: 

  • Population density: 1,425 people/km² compared to Raleigh’s 1,316 people/km² 
  • Mean temperature: 66.5°F compared to Raleigh’s 61°F
  • Median home price: $234,932 compared to Raleigh’s $246,000

Differences:

  • Population: With 494,612 residents, Raleigh is slightly larger than Irving with only  247,457 people.  
  • Less snow: Though neither city has harsh winters, Irving gets less than half the snowfall of Raleigh, with only a scarce 1.2 inches of snow a year. 

Like Raleigh, but colder: Madison, Wisconsin

For those who would like cooler temperatures and less scorching summers, Madison, Wisconsin is a great option. Madison offers affordable home prices in a mid-sized city, but the weather’s much cooler, with an average of 50.9 inches of snow each year. Similar to Raleigh, Madison’s proximity to the University of Wisconsin—Madison brings in educated professionals and many job opportunities in the healthcare and medical fields.

Moving can be a time consuming and stressful experience, especially if you’re also searching for the perfect place to call your own. Though that transition may take time, don’t forget that there are many ways to make the change easier. In time, and with the right resources, you’re sure to make your new house a home — and these twin cities prove that home may be closer than you think.

Methodology

The Zebra compiled three data points on the 100 most populous cities in the United States. 

The data points were weighted as follows: 

Population density – 40

Mean temperature – 30

Median home price– 30

We pulled our data from the NOAA (data from 2019), Climate-Data.org (data collected from 1982 to 2012), Zillow (data from 2020), Kiplinger (data from 2019). Additional points were given to cities based on top attractions as listed by TripAdvisor (data from 2020). These factors were scored on similarity to the ten best places to live according to U.S. News and World Report, then ranked and weighted to calculate the final matches. 

Additional Sources: Jim Allen Group | Forbes | CurrentResults | Bestplaces

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