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Small Town Charm: America’s Best Hometowns Ranked

When you think of the most popular places in America, you may envision the bright lights of Times Square in New York City, San Francisco’s sprawling Golden Gate Bridge, or the beach in Los Angeles. But what about America’s smaller cities and towns? 

Many of these less populated places are known for their “small town charm.” Away from the glitz and glamor of big cities, these areas brag about their tight-knit communities and simple lifestyle. We analyzed dozens of small cities and towns in America to determine some of the best hometowns in the U.S. Here’s what we found out. 

Ranking the Best Hometowns in America

Top Ranked Cities and Towns in America Map – report by allstarhome.com

To determine the top hometowns, places were subject to four key rankings: community, affordable living, safety, and education. Since community is paramount for smaller cities and towns this was made the most important component of the ranking. Community score was based on factors such as diversity by state, farmer’s markets in the vicinity, historical buildings, and the average winning percentage of the area’s high school football teams. 

In the top 10, smaller cities in New York state ranked as the best hometowns in America. Elmira, Corning, Utica, and Binghamton swept the top 4 slots. All four had a large number of farmer’s markets within 30 miles, a 66% diversity ranking (one of the best in the U.S. only topped by California and Texas!), and relatively affordable home values. 

Best Small Cities & Towns to Live In

Table ranking the top 30 most charming cities and towns in America - report by allstarhome.com

Some of the other top hometowns to rank in the top 10 include:

  • Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Hannibal, Missouri
  • Charlottesville, Virginia 

Charlottesville was one of the highest-ranking cities when it came to its overall community score. It ranked first for historical buildings with 99 places registered as historic spots! It’s no surprise when you remember not one, but two U.S. presidents (Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe) called it home at one time. 

Meanwhile, Bowling Green was one of the best-ranked cities when it came to its average high school football team’s winning percentage. That may be because it’s also a college town, home to a Division I NCAA football team. Nothing like growing up with front-row seats of that team to inspire young football players. 

Highest Ranking Hometowns

Top 5 ranking hometowns for safety, education, historical buildings, farmer’s markets, affordable living - report by allstarhome.com

While not every hometown earned the best overall ranking, many shine solely within certain categories. Marquette, Michigan, home of Northern Michigan University, only reported an average of 48 crimes per capita. The other safest hometowns in America include Weston, West Virginia (2nd), as well as Montrose, Colorado (3rd). 

While many of these cities and towns have smaller populations, it doesn’t mean there’s only a handful of students in each classroom. We examined the student-to-teacher ratio of each city to see which spaces have better education opportunities. Binghamton had the lowest student-to-teacher ratio with just about 10 students for every teacher. El Centro, California had the worst ratio with 22 kids for every educator. 

In smaller cities and towns, there’s a lot more to life than money. It’s often not about owning the biggest house on the street but living somewhere affordable where you can foster relationships and friendships. Some of the best cities for affordability? Greenville, Mississippi, followed by Keokuk (IA), Greenwood (MS), and Bluefield (WV). All four boasted home values under $100,000. 

When it comes to the best hometowns in America, we know no one can come up with a perfect ranking. In all honesty, hometowns like these often can’t be precisely analyzed with numbers. Small town charm is delivering a home-cooked meal to your neighbor just because you had extra food or mowing your neighbor’s lawn. It isn’t limited to places with small populations. If you live in a big city, you can foster a close community in your own way as well! Hopefully, this report will inspire you to find a way to spread that small town charm to others and make the most of your hometown. 

Homes are places for families to live and grow, but we know these buildings need some love and care to function well, just like people! Learn more about how All Star Home can help you keep up with home maintenance and fixes including roof repairs, gutter cleaning, and siding installations and replacements.


To come up with the ranking, we analyzed the cities named in the 50 smallest TV designated market areas with a population of less than 100,000. To determine our ranking, we compared cities across four key metrics and graded each metric on a 100-point scale. The four metrics were: 

  1. Community – 50 points overall
    • Diversity by state – 20 points
    • Historic buildings by city – 10 points
    • Farmer’s markets within 30 miles – 10 points
    • High school football winning percentage – 10 points 
  2. Safety – 20 points
  3. Affordable living – 15 points 
  4. Education – 15 points 

Sources include the FBI Crime Data Explorer, Zillow Home Values, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, National Park Service, and the United States Department of Agriculture. The average high school football winning percentage is based on 2022-2023 season or the most recent season data available. 

*Some cities did not have crime data for the entire decade analyzed. The average crime rate per capita for those cities was determined based on the average of available data. 

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