The Best Place to Live in America Is a Small City You've Probably Never Heard Of
Securing the top spot in MONEY Magazine's 2019 Best Places to Live rankings, America's most attractive small city is tucked away in the heart of the Volunteer State.
There's so much to love about living in the South—the warm climate, unique architecture, and world-class hospitality are just some of the many reasons why American's choose to call the Southern states home. But it's not cities people are flocking to. According to editors at MONEY, the South's most exciting places to live aren't the metropolitan hubs that we all know and love. Thanks to outstanding diversity, higher income levels, low living costs, top education systems, rock-bottom crime rates, and overall amenities, smaller, lesser-known cities and towns have earned the top 10 rankings as part of MONEY's 2019 list of Best Places to Live in America.
None of the 50 places on the list scored as high on rankings as Clarksville, Tennessee, a burgeoning city of 160,000 residents, which is expected to nearly double by 2040. Just about an hour outside of Nashville, Clarksville is home to one of the fastest-growing economies in the South, MONEY reports, and the flourishing community is attracting new homeowners faster than it can keep up with. The small-town feel of the city's vibrant downtown district is amplified by the fact that many small businesses are born here, often supported by the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at nearby Austin Peay State University.
There's no doubt about it—the charm of tight-knit Clarksville, coupled with its overall economic growth and well-groomed education system, rivals some of the South's better-known destinations. But other southern cities and places across the nation in MONEY's top 10 also show similar attributes. Editors partnered with research firm Witlytic to dive into towns and cities with populations greater than 50,000—places that had crime rates double the national average, less than 85 percent of its state's median household income, or that lacked overall ethnic diversity were then eliminated. Then, editors spent months discovering what made each place tick, and even went as far to interview some of the residents in each locale firsthand.
Other top spots in the South include runner-up Round Rock, Texas, where median incomes average $90,000, 60 percent of people own their homes, and job openings are abundant; Country Club Heights, North Carolina, a sprawling southern community that's number five on the list thanks to an abundance of stunning green spaces and involvement opportunities for newcomers; and Bentonville, Arkansas, which came in at number seven, a beautiful town located on the outskirts of the Ozark forest that's known as the birthplace of Walmart (and a very low 2.9 percent unemployment rate). Winter Garden, Florida, rounds out the top 10—and who wouldn't want to live here? In addition to the warm weather, this Orlando suburb has transformed its historic Downtown district with restaurants, boutiques, and two museums.
Not all of this year's winners are in the South, however; MONEY only selects two places from each state, and cities on last year's list aren't eligible to be featured again this year. Fishers, Indiana, a top MONEY winner from 2017, has since become a full-fledged city and completely overhauled its downtown district, securing its spot as second-runner-up on this year's list. Fulton River District in Illinois places at number four; Draper, Utah, earns its spot at number six; Madison, Wisconsin at number eight; and Meridian, Idaho, which ranks at number nine.