These Are America’s Top Small Cities in 2023

A small city might be the answer for those eager to escape the hustle, bustle, and traffic of a big urban center without leaving all of the culture, restaurants, and entertainment behind.

The top small city in America in 2023 is Carmel, IN, according to a recent study from personal finance website WalletHub. The affluent suburb about 30 minutes north of Indianapolis is walkable and bikeable, and it has a cute downtown.

“There may be greater opportunities to own a home and have discretionary income when living in a smaller place. It may also be easier to build strong relationships with neighbors, local business owners, and community members,” Victoria Morckel, a senior teaching specialist at Michigan State University, said in a statement. “However, small cities may have fewer amenities, cultural attractions, entertainment options, and restaurants compared to large urban centers.”

Two people pass by a sculpture of giant bikes in the city center of Carmel, IN
Carmel, IN

(Photo courtesy of carmel.in.gov)

WalletHub looked at more than 1,300 cities with between 25,000 and 100,000 residents to come up with its ranking. It analyzed everything from housing costs and school ratings to the number of restaurants per capita and the local crime rates.

Three of the top 10 cities were in Indiana, with another three in Massachusetts.

Carmel came out on top as the city of just under 100,000 residents has an arts and design district, a top school district, and residents who earn a higher-than-average median income. It also boasts the 27-mile, multiuse Monon Trail, which goes into downtown Indianapolis.

An evening outdoor concert held in Carmel, IN
An evening concert held in the Carmel Arts & Design District in Carmel, IN

(Photo courtesy of carmel.in.gov)

Homes in the city were pricier than in much of the rest of the country. The median home list price in Carmel was $629,225 in August, according to the most recent Realtor.com® data available. That’s about a third more expensive than the national median of $435,450.

The majority of homes for sale in Carmel are single-family houses, although there are condos and townhomes. About a third of the homes listed on Realtor.com were new construction.

1790 Fairmount St, Carmel, IN 46032
A five-bedroom home listed at $789,000 in Carmel, IN

(Realtor.com)

Quirky fact: Carmel is also home to the Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections.

“People buy a ‘bundle’ when they invest in their home. It starts with the house, but it doesn’t end there,” Georgette Chapman Phillips, dean of the College of Business at Lehigh University, said in a statement.

She encouraged local policymakers to “make sure your city retains the right amenities for the residents [such as] parks/recreation, performing arts, [and] academically superior public education.”

The top 10 small cities in America

  1. Carmel, IN
  2. Lexington, MA
  3. Brentwood, TN
  4. Westfield, IN
  5. Fishers, IN
  6. Fair Lawn, NJ
  7. Milton, MA
  8. Melrose, MA
  9. Saratoga Springs, NY
  10. Brookfield, WI

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