Big cities aren’t an attraction for everyone, some people desire the quaint, quiet, know your neighbor lifestyle that can only be found in small towns. The major drawback is that it can be difficult to find a career in some small towns. The towns on this list provide the best of both worlds. These places all have a population of under 50,000 and yet, are still close enough to major metropolitan areas to make the commute feasible.
The ranking criteria is based on population, distance from major city and employment rate.
Sharon, MA pop. 17,944
Just 17 miles southwest of the downtown Boston area, Sharon boasts excellent K-12 curriculum with its high school receiving the National Blue Ribbon Schools award in 2011. There is a commuter rail service into Boston for ease of commute. Sharon also boasts a high percentage of land conservation within its borders which has enabled it to have many scenic trails.
Other small towns: Westford, MA 44,207 and Shrewsburg, MA 36,048
Golden, CO pop. 19,126
Home of the famous Coors Brewing Plant and gateway to the Rocky Mountains, this community is full of the laid back lifestyle associated with small towns. Just 15 miles from Denver and close to ski resorts, trails and streams, Golden is the best of both worlds. There are job opportunities within Golden itself as it is home to the National Earthquake Center, the Colorado School of Mines, the American Mountaineering Center and the Boston Market corporate office.
Other small towns: Louisville, CO- 18, 924 and Parker, CO 47,793
Clive, IA pop. 16,176
Clive is known as one of the most desirable areas in the Des Moines area, just 8 miles away. Their aquatic center has a lazy river and lap pool, their library hosts storytimes for different ages, and they have the annual Clive festival with music, food, and fireworks. It’s not just humans who have it good here, dogs have several pet-friendly parks to enjoy and before the pools are drained at the end of summer, dogs are invited to take a dip.
Other small towns: numerous, Iowa has over 150 towns with less than 5,000 residents.
Bedford, VA pop. 5,862
Tucked between Lynchburg and Roanoke, Bedford provides residents with a sense of patriotism and community coupled with amazing scenery. 29 minutes from Roanoke, VA, Bedford’s crime rates are less than half the national average. It is near the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway and houses several wineries. Virginia is full of history and Bedford is no different, it has many museums, a D-Day memorial and just minutes away in the community of Forest, President Thomas Jefferson built his personal retreat, Poplar Forest.
Other small towns: Vienna, VA 16,285
Sheridan, WY pop. 17, 679
This is about as far away from urban hustle bustle as you can get. Its closest big city neighbor is Billings, MT 179 miles away. If you are drawn to the feel of the west though, Sheridan might be the ideal place. It is about halfway between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. It is no surprise then that Sheridan ranked #1 in the country for the preservation of its parks. Culturally it offers a lot to do with galleries, over 50 restaurants and bars, and more than ten streams perfect for fishing.
Other small towns: Laramie, WY 31,681
Danville, KY pop. 16,606
Danville is located in a part of the country that gets the benefit of having all four seasons. Just 34 miles from Lexington, this town keeps its city pride amidst the heart of Kentucky. Though this town moves at a slow pace, there is still plenty to do. It is home to the American Doll Museum, Timberland Boots Company and Caterpillar has a manufacturing plant here. Every year there is a Kentucky BBQ Festival and more than 50 restaurants. It is also known for its historic conservation.
Other small towns: Ashland, KY 21,684
Chardon, OH pop. 5,193
This town is smack dab in the middle of Ohio’s maple syrup industry. The town square has a distinctly New England feel despite being in the middle of the country. Chardon has very low crime and unemployment rates. Every year the Geauga County Maple Festival draws around 10,000 people with its enticing maple stir. The winters are perfect for sledding hills and the summers great for golfing, fishing, and hiking. It is a mere 33 miles from Cleveland, Ohio’s largest city.
Other small towns: Mason, OH 31,761
There are great small towns over the country, many right next to big urban areas. Decide what things are important to you will help the process. Some other places to keep in mind, listed by state, are:
Minnesota: Chanhassen- 23,685, Apple Valley 49,863
Oregon: Sherwood- 18,736
Nebraska: Papillion- 19,837
New Jersey: Berkeley Heights- 13,345, Montville- 21,715, Hillsborough- 38,828
Texas: The Colony- 39,055, Boerne- 11,249
Pennsylvania: West Goshen Township- 22,421
Indiana: Westfield- 38,857
Washington: Newcastle- 10,723