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Find Utopia’s Best Places To Live in the USA - Here are the places we feel offer outstanding living environments based on lifestyle, culture, educational opportunities, recreation, etc. There is a list for large, medium and small cities since population size could significantly influence your personal preferences. For detailed information on each city see our Step 4- Research Places.

LARGE CITIES:

1. New York City- expensive but if you can afford it, no other city in the US has the range of attractions of NYC. It offers the best of everything: culture, career opportunities, restaurants, shopping, museums, etc.

2.  San Diego- a large city with a laid back but sophisticated lifestyle. Has some of the best weather in the US. Great beaches, restaurants and night life.

3. Chicago- has many of the same amenities of NYC without all the frenzy and expense. A more livable version of NYC, with Midwestern values.

4. San Francisco-  A contemporary city that offer a sophisticated lifestyle without formality. Beautiful surroundings, great restaurants, and the capital of the new tech economy.

5. Los Angeles-  A big city with a trend setting environment. If you want to live where the latest cultural trends begin, then this is the place for you. Lots of flash though it’s low on substance.

6. Dallas- One of the most underrated cities in America. Has great amenities with easy accessibility and it’s much more sophisticated than outsiders realize. Lots of transplants, which makes it the least ‘Texas’ of all cities in the state. A cost of living that is lower than most major cities.

7. Boston- If you like history and tradition then Boston is the place for you. Highly educated area with some of the best colleges in the nation. Not for you though if cold winters are a problem.

8. Seattle- Beautiful city with a sophisticated modern economy. Gray skies and rain could be a deterrent.

9. Washington, DC- the center of political power in the world. Great career opportunities and extensive cultural attractions.

10. San Antonio- most people don’t realize it but San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the USA. However, the metropolitan population is much smaller that the other top 10 metro areas. The city is 60% Hispanic so it has a cultural flavor unlike any other major city in the U.S. Mild winters (hot summers) and a cost of living much lower than other large cities.


MEDIUM SIZE CITIES:

1. Portland, Oregon- A laid-back hip, trendy city with great brew pubs and restaurants. Beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor recreational possibilities. One of the most environmentally conscious cities in the country.

2. Burlington, Vermont- The largest city in Vermont (175,000 metro population) has many of the benefits of a bigger city. Beautiful surroundings on Lake Champlain, great restaurants, outdoor activities, a university and only 2 hours from Montreal. Very cold and long winters though.

3.Asheville, North Carolina- Located in the mountains of western NC, it has beautiful surroundings. Has a bohemian feel to it with a nice downtown and a good arts community. The Biltmore House (largest mansion in the USA)is located here and draws lots of tourists. Moderate cost of living.

4. Olympia, Washington- the state capital has great scenery and a slower paced feel than its neighbors- Tacoma and Seattle. Has an active arts community and a reasonable cost of living for a city in the northwest.

5. Austin, Texas- A fast growing city with a  trendy downtown. The ‘live music capital’ has seen many restaurants and condos spring up downtown recently. Laid back, liberal attitude. Mild winters but very hot and long summers.

6. Boise, Idaho- One of the fastest growing cities in the country. Many outdoor recreation opportunities and a vibrant downtown. Cold winters and mild summers. Idaho is a very conservative state with a  strong Republican base.

7. Bellingham, Washington- pretty surroundings with a bohemian feel to the downtown area. Has  active theater, cinemaphile, and symphony organizations.

8. Madison, Wisconsin- This capital city is situated between two lakes which provides beautiful scenery. Has a large university, great restaurants and year round outdoor recreational activities. Mild summers and cold winters.

9. Boulder, Colorado- At 5,430 feet above sea level, acres of vast open space roll into Boulder’s quaint cityscape tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Located 35 miles northwest of downtown Denver, Boulder is a mountain community with natural beauty, hip urban culture and many outdoor activities. Home to University of Colorado.

10. Charleston, South Carolina-  A sophisticated, historic southern city located on the ocean. Many beautiful historic homes, a picturesque downtown, and a large fine arts community. Has many upscale amenities for a medium size city. Mild winters, hot humid summers and the occasional hurricane.


SMALL CITIES:

1. Port Townsend, Washington-  Charming Victorian seaport town with a historic downtown. With the Olympic Mountains on one side and Port Townsend Bay on the other, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north and access to both salt and fresh water bodies, Port Townsend is a unique location for recreational opportunities.
 
2. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho- located on the shores of a beautiful lake, this small city has a vibrant downtown and many recreational activities. Well located for winter sports and has world class golfing for the summer months. The downtown offer a wide selection of shops and restaurants

3. Flagstaff, Arizona- clean mountain air, year-round recreation, forest paths, lively entertainment scene, and 1890s charm. Located near the Grand Canyon, the geography typifies rugged western terrain. The summers in Flagstaff are much cooler than what you might expect in Arizona.

4. Bennington, Vermont- located in southwestern Vermont, this non-touristy, real working town of 15,000,  is surrounded by the Taconic and Green Mountains. It is centrally located near many New England cultural amenities. Williamstown and N. Adams with its world class museums are only a 30 minute drive. The heart of the Berkshires, Albany NY, Saratoga NY  are only about a hour away.  New York City is only 3½ hours by car and Boston even closer. Rural but not isolated. Has great four season recreational attractions nearby. Bennington College is located here.

5. Hilton Head/Beaufort, SC- located near the Atlantic Ocean both of these communities are sophisticated small towns with vibrant arts communities and great shopping and dining. Hilton head is a world class resort community and the amenities one would expect. Beaufort’s entire downtown is designated a National Historic District and offers shops, galleries and fine dining.

6. Hot Springs, Arkansas- This city was voted as one of the best small arts towns in America. It has a large Victorian downtown with many shops and restaurants and is surrounded by a National Park. The  surrounding scenery consists of rolling hill and forests. Mild winters but hot muggy summers. Housing here is much less expensive than other Top 10 places and the overall cost of living is quite low. Because of this, many retirees have relocated here.

7. Bend Oregon- Located in the high desert, this is a great place for people who like the outdoors and great scenery. Golf courses, skiing, rock climbing and hiking are some of the possible activities. Known as "the sunny side of Oregon," the Cascade mountains act as a protective buffer, giving Bend only 12 inches of precipitation per year. Renovated in 2002, the Tower Theater is located in the heart of historic downtown Bend and offers something for everyone.

8. Camden Maine- the quintessential New England village situated on a beautiful bay. This pure Currier and Ives village seems like it’s from another time. Because of the large tourist trade this village has more amenities than most towns this size. It is also under 2 hours from Portland, ME if you need some bigger city attractions.

9. Easton, Maryland- Located on the Eastern Shore, this quaint small city with a historic town center has easy access to the cities of Annapolis, Washington, DC, and Baltimore. It also has Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in their backyard for sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and crabbing. The restored art deco Avalon Theater provides a showcase for the performing arts.

10. Oxford, MS- Oxford is a vibrant University town, filled with unique shops and galleries, eclectic restaurants and clubs. It is home to the University of Mississippi and hosts an array of  athletic events as well as performing arts programs, scholarly presentations, and exhibits. Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner and many other writers such as John Grisham, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown have at one time or another called Oxford home.

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