People are incredibly complex in some ways — and yet so wonderfully simple in many others. When it comes to deciding where to live, most of us want a place with lots of diverse, good-paying jobs, affordable housing, and a general population that’s content with its surroundings.
These up-and-coming cities offer all that and much, much more:
Colorado Springs, Colorado
With a relatively small but growing population of around 700,000, Colorado Springs is currently experiencing an explosion of new housing, cultural venues, parks, and schools. About an hour’s drive from Denver, this town is also located near Vail and Aspen, both of which are home to top-notch ski resorts. Jobs here are abundant in military-related industries, as well as in technology, medical research, and product development. Rent is typically around $1000 a month.
Des Moines, Iowa
A little smaller than Denver, Des Moines consists of around 625,000 residents. Its mom-and-pop restaurants, bars, and specialty shops ooze trendiness, and its architecture bears an incredibly rich history. Des Moines is also the cradle of insurance companies, housing over 80 in total including big players like Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Monthly rent here lingers around $875 or $900.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
If you can’t get enough of midwestern charm and four distinct seasons, the Twin Cities might just be perfect for you. Even though they have a population of around 3.5 million, you still get that small town vibe when you visit their impressive museums and sports stadiums. Full of jobs in a wide range of fields from science and research to retail at Medtronic, Xcel Energy, Target, and Best Buy, Minneapolis-St. Paul is perfect for professionals both young and old, with average rent hovering around $1000 a month.
With a population that borders on 2 million, Nashville is easily one of the funnest and friendliest cities in the country — thanks no in small part to its down-home drawls and bustling country music scene. Rental housing averages around $1000 a month here, and you can find work in anything from artisinal crafts to organic farming, healthcare (several world famous hospitals and research facilities dot the area), and business development.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Affectionately dubbed “Beer City USA” for its 40+ world-class breweries, Grand Rapids’ population keeps growing, surpassing the 1 million mark just over a year ago. Jobs in healthcare and education abound here, and many of them don’t even require a college degree. Local pastimes include enjoying the outdoors, attending concerts, and strolling through art galleries. To top it all off, the average rent in Grand Rapids is only an enticing $825 to $925 a month.
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
People looking for jobs in tech and/or research need not migrate to the insanely expensive Silicon Valley when Raleigh-Durham and nearby Chapel Hill (known by the locals as the Triangle) employ over 40,000 people at companies like SAS Institute Inc., IBM, and Cisco Systems, as well as institutions like North Carolina State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke. The city’s population is booming and expected to reach 2 million in the next few years. Rents here range between $1000 and $1200 a month.
San Antonio, Texas
Break out those cowboy boots and relocate to sweet San Antonio, where you can work hard, earn good wages, and enjoy an abundance of music, art, and food from all over the world. The city’s hospitable people (all 2.5 million of them) also proudly host over 50 galas and festivals annually, so there’s always bound to be a party going on. Joint Base San Antonio consists of four air force and military bases and camps, which means that most of the city’s service jobs require lots of employees. The median monthly rent here is just shy of $1000.
Still a relatively small major city with just 650,000 residents, Wisconsin’s capital has a booming job market in everything from manufacturing and information technology to healthcare and education. Farmers markets serve the diverse population and ensure that the city’s upscale restaurants use only the best locally sourced food available. Monthly rent will set you back around $950 here.
Lovers of dry heat and sunshine often find Phoenix a dream come true. The city proudly claims more sunny days per year than any other place in the country. Despite its population of over 4.5 million, Phoenix still has a small town charm to it, as highlighted by its lively job market, ethnically diverse restaurants, and myriad of outdoor activities from paddleboarding to hiking. Monthly rental rates hover around $1100.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Boasting a near perfect balance of energetic growth, enthusiasm, and old-school southern comfort, Charlotte is home to a wonderfully diverse mixture of people from all over the world. Many of these inhabitants are big motorsports fans who never miss the local NASCAR events. Employment opportunities also abound here, especially in banking. The best part is that rental rates in and around the city are still mostly under $1000 a month.