Here are 2020’s best medium-sized cities, with metro populations between 1.5 -3 million residents, based on economy, safety, cost of living, schools, amenities, and quality of life, among other things.
10. Virginia Beach, VA
It’s no wonder this is the most populated city in Virginia. Despite having nearly 2 million residents and 19 million tourists each summer, the suburban sprawl gives Virginia Beach a small town feel. It is an extremely safe city and a great place for families, especially in the summertime since it is on the beach, afterall. Outside of summer, however, things can get pretty cold and since there are not many amenities as far as city life goes. At least there’s an excellent education system with some of the best schools in the nation to keep the kids busy.
Virginia Beach isn’t terribly expensive either, especially for Virginia. The median home value is still just $281,000, and there are tons of well paying jobs in the Defense, Agribusiness, Biomedical, Manufacturing, and Maritime industries.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing regions in the country with a consistent 2% growth rate in the metro area year after year. It’s affordable, there are over 300 days of sun, and world class food and entertainment is everywhere! And it’s not all just city life, there aiso beautiful nature like Red Rocks Canyon, Lake Mead, Mt. Charleston, and the Valley of Fire.
The city continues to prosper with an increasingly diverse economy between the local businesses, tourism, and the growing effort to bring corporate Headquarters to the city. Other than the top jobs however, wages aren’t the best for most of the workforce with a median household income of just $57,000. The good news is there’s no state income tax and you can get by pretty cheap. The median home value is still just $288,000, and there are a lot of nice houses in the $200-250K range.
8). Orlando, Florida
Another warm city, another tourist destination, and another one of the fastest growing regions of the country, with the metro population increasing by nearly 2.5% each year not to mention all the tourists that make Orlando the most visited city in the U.S. The unemployment rate here is just 3%, but a lot of the jobs are entry level tourism jobs, so wages aren’t the best. The cost of living isn’t too expensive with a median home price of just $259,407.
But you’re gonna need a car to live here because public transportation is awful and most things are very spread out, not to mention the toll roads are a pain in the butt. Literally, your butt will hurt after sitting in traffic for so long.
7. Columbus, Ohio
Unlike the other cities in Ohio, Columbus is a “Boomtown” in the Rust Belt, with tons of growth potential, development, and one of the fastest growing and most diverse economies in the nation. In fact, it was recently ranked as one of the best cities for young professionals.
Between the growing tech scene and amazing job opportunities in education, insurance, banking, aviation, steel, energy, health care, and medical research, the median household income here is nearly 64,000$. What makes this even better is the extremely low cost of living with a median home price of just $171,611. Columbus is an excellent place to raise a family with great schools, friendly residents, and tons to do in each of the unique neighborhoods and nature preserves
6. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is another one of the fastest growing regions of the country! In fact, it’ll probably be a big city in just a few years thanks to the recent job growth and booming economy. Despite all the growth, the cost of living has remained affordable with a median home price of just $251,000.
The Queen City is somewhat culturally bland outside of Uptown and the surrounding areas, but there are still cool museums, art, thriving nightlife, great restaurants, a major airport, plenty of events and concerts, and NBA and NFL teams. Not to mention the great weather and overall cleanliness of the city despite all the action.
5. San Antonio, TX
San Antonio has great culture and history with tons of picturesque neighborhoods and museums, not to mention, the weather is AMAZING year round- with average Winter temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
The Alamo City boasts one of the best economies in the nation with jobs primarily in Defense, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Healthcare, Bioscience, Finance, and Tech. It is a great place to raise a family with good schools and an affordable price tag with the median home price at just $186,000. Although San Antonio’s one of the best places to live in America, but it also isn’t the most exciting city. Our next city’s definitely got a lot more personality.
4. Nashville, TN
Unsurprisingly, Nashville is another one of the fastest growing regions in the country with a booming economy. If you’re planning on moving here, do it soon because this city is going to get very expensive within the next 5-10 years. The economy is thriving with jobs in healthcare, finance, music production, automotive manufacturing, higher education, tourism, tech, and everything in between. No wonder the unemployment rate is just 2.4%
As far as amenities go, there is a growing hipster coffee shop vibe, a fun bar and brewery scene, Some of the best BBQ and hot chicken, and live music is everywhere since it is the Music City, afterall. And if nature’s more your thing, there’s plenty of that too! Unless you hate bugs, or have allergies.
3. Pittsburgh, PA
Like most of the rustbelt, Pittsburgh has taken its share of economic hits, but lately the economy has been surging. While it isn’t necessarily the fastest growing city by population, the steel city is still an amazing and affordable place to live.
The median home price is only $164,000 which is a great bargain considering all the well-paying job opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, energy, financial and business services, and information technology. Besides the economic opportunity, Pittsburgh is a neat place overall. The surrounding hills, streams, and scenery combined with the beautiful skyline make it one of the most picturesque cities in America. And you don’t need a car to explore it either because the public transportation is pretty good and the city itself is walkable although you probably won’t want to walk anywhere during the harsh winters.
2. Portland, OR
Potrland’s culture is unlike any other city and every aspect of it is thriving: from the arts, to the food, to the breweries, bars, shops, and dispensaries. This city has something for everyone whether you are looking to raise a family, a young professional, or even an outdoors person.
There are all kinds of job opportunities and it is a great place to start a small business because the community is so supportive. The main economic downside is the cost of living because the median home price is a whopping $456,000, but at least the median income is $72,000, so it is semi-manageable since most other things in the city aren’t too expensive and there is not any sales tax. Portland is also the most bikeable city in the country and it has good public transportation, which is a relief considering how bad the traffic gets, especially on the bridges.
1. Austin, TX
Austin has remained one of the best U.S. cities to live in over the past 10 years and there’s a reason for that. The city is beautiful with gorgeous scenery in every direction, and near perfect temperatures that rarely drop below 60 Fahrenheit even in winter. Sure, it’s gotten pretty expensive with a median home price nearing $400,000, but that price tag is worth it. The economy is growing rapidly and so many huge tech companies are moving here that Austin will probably be the next silicon valley. As you can guess, this means there are pretty excellent job opportunities with a median household income of nearly $74,000 and the unemployment rate at just 2.7%.
Not to mention there’s no state income tax. But even amidst all this growth from a cheap little hippy town to a booming tech city, Austin has maintained it’s laid back quirky atmosphere and remained incredibly safe and friendly for its size
If medium-sized cities are too small for you, check out the Best Big Cities and if they are too big, check out the best Small Cities, or even the Best Very Small Cities.