Are you a renter searching for a quieter location but not really a fan of the suburbs? Mid-sized cities might just be the answer for you. You will still enjoy the benefits of urban living and you might be able to save some money too.
We have compiled a list of the best medium-sized cities, filled with employment and leisure opportunities, in case you want to take a time out from your usual big city life. Local self storage options can help ease the relocation process, wherever you might be headed to. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best mid-sized cities that can cater to any modern lifestyle needs.
1. Arlington, TX
If you’re looking for a more low-profile option in Texas, Arlington could be the way to go. Unemployment dropped below 8% as the area experienced a recent job market revival and self storage prices are among the lowest on this list, averaging around $86. The average rent in Arlington is $1,162, close to the national average of $1,124 (according to RentCafe). At the same time, the cost of living, excluding rent, will set you back a mere $605 a month.
The city has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment and leisure activities. Spend a day on the rides at Six Flags, watch the Dallas Cowboys play at the grand AT&T stadium or enjoy the hiking and biking trails of the 1,300-acre River Legacy Park. Arlington is also generally regarded as a well-established commercial center with strong automotive and aerospace industries.
2. Atlanta, GA
The capital of the “Peach State” has been trending for a while, thanks to major employers such as Delta Air Lines, Emory University & Healthcare, Home Depot, UPS, Cox Enterprises and the Coca-Cola Company. The tech sector has experienced a substantial boom in recent years, as employment in this field went up 25% over the last decade. Young professionals are relocating from larger metros and are enjoying median earnings hovering around $58K.
The cost of living excluding rent is around $770 a month, while self storage and rent averages are about $130 and $1,723 respectively. Don’t worry, Atlanta’s entertainment, leisure and dining opportunities will surely make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. The wide range of parks, aquariums, botanical gardens, historic sites, museums and sports venues will certainly keep you busy.
3. Mesa, AZ
Just east of Phoenix, AZ, you can find Mesa, a vibrant urban center with a rich cultural background, irresistible natural surroundings and views of the Superstition Mountains, as well as higher education facilities. If you’re a baseball fan, you can go see games at either Sloan Park or Hohokam Stadium, but if you’re the artsy type, then make sure to make the most of the Mesa Arts Center. There are plenty of outdoor leisure options as well, including hiking, visiting amusement parks (take a look at Golfland and Sunsplash) and riding in a hot air balloon over the Sonoran Desert.
Depending on where you’re coming from, life in Mesa could be a surprise, money-wise. The average rent in Mesa is $1,380 a month, the cost of living hovers around $670 (w/o rent) and renting self storage is generally affordable, setting you back an average of $89 a month. Moreover, Mesa boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in this ranking, 5.40%, so relocating here could be an option, provided the heat doesn’t scare you off.
4. Long Beach, CA
Being one of the most culturally and demographically diverse cities in the Golden State, Long Beach will provide you with everything you didn’t know you wanted. Take a morning swim, learn how to surf, get to know underwater life at the Aquarium of the Pacific, take a boat trip or visit the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum. Dining and shopping options are also very numerous and diverse, while the proximity to Los Angeles makes Long Beach even more attractive.
Diversity does come with a higher price tag, though. The average rent in Long Beach hits $2,333, the cost of living goes over $750 a month and the average street rate of self storage units is $177. Unemployment stands at 8.50%, but median earnings come close to $48K. Los Angeles residents who want quieter streets and more close-knit communities often choose to relocate to Long Beach.
5. Cleveland, OH
Although Cleveland may not excel with regard to unemployment and earnings, Ohio’s second largest city might be a bit of a hidden gem in other respects. Average rent is lower compared to other major urban hubs, roughly $1,172 per month. Self storage is also on the lower side ($104) and there are more than a few employment options around. Traditionally, the manufacturing, healthcare and financial industries represented the backbone of the local economy, but Cleveland has more than that to offer.
World-class industries such as Applied Industrial Technologies, NACCO Industries, Cliffs Natural Resources and KeyCorp are major local employers, and then there is the NASA research facility close to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The birthplace of the phrase “rock and roll music” is also known for its top-tier sports teams and its great arts and culture scene, which includes the famous Cleveland Museum of Art and the Playhouse Square. Beaches, water sports and fishing are also fashionable here, while the local cuisine is uniquely mouth-watering.
6. Colorado Springs, CO
Situated at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs successfully combines a classic urban vibe with great natural landmarks as few other cities do. Moreover, it’s a great place to live since unemployment is incredibly low (4.0%). The average rent here is $1,458 and median earnings are standing consistently at around $48K. Also, if you’re looking for self storage units, they won’t cost you more than $104 per month on average.
Colorado Springs residents enjoy a high quality of life and a wide variety of outdoor activities. The city is known for its elevation, year-round great weather and clean air. See the famous red sandstone rock formations in the Garden of the Gods, explore the Olympic training facilities and enjoy over 100 shopping, dining and entertainment options in the Old Colorado City. Finally, don’t forget to plan a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy, just 15 minutes north of downtown Colorado Springs.
7. Kansas City, MO
This Missouri town has one of the lowest unemployment rates (5.0%), one of the lowest self storage rates ($107) and the lowest average rent in this ranking ($1,103). Kansas City is slowly but surely approaching half a million inhabitants and that is because it has so much to offer. To name just one thing, it’s a city for art lovers. From street art to fine art, from contemporary murals to classic art museums, Kansas City stands out as an increasingly popular Midwest destination.
Also known as the City of Fountains, this urban center boasts over 200 decorative water displays incorporated into different parks, streets and squares. Depending on your interests, you can dive into history by visiting the National World War I Museum and Memorial or the Arabia Steamboat Museum. If you’re keener on entertainment and nightlife, the Power and Light District has everything you need — it is the newest and most popular area of the city, consisting of more than 50 shops, restaurants and nightlife venues.
8. Raleigh, NC
The other state capital that made our list has the lowest self storage street rate in this ranking (only $82) and offers renters average monthly rents of around $1,468. The cost of living here ($724 excluding rent) is slightly lower than the national average ($742). At the same time, median earnings are close to $50K. However, it’s not all about the money.
The City of Oaks (named after the majestic oak trees that gracefully line the downtown streets) is part of the Research Triangle, namely the metro area anchoring three major research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Besides world-class colleges, the local economy has been doing really well due to the presence of technology firms, medical centers and life sciences companies, including IBM, Lenovo, Cisco Systems, NetApp, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and others. Finally, local cuisine is top-notch, the weather is great, and the number of parks, gardens and trails is every nature lover’s dream.
9. Scottsdale, AZ
Golf courses, spa resorts and high-end boutiques. What’s not to love about Scottsdale? Just 15-20 miles east of Phoenix, the city of Scottsdale is an urban gateway into the majestic Sonoran Desert. Along with a variety of opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors, the old town’s walkable neighborhoods allow you to browse galleries in the Arts District and do some (window-)shopping on Fifth Avenue. Also make sure to check out the Entertainment District for some fun after sundown. Finally, the city is also known for its wedding venues, Italian restaurants and performing arts centers.
However, all this comes at a price. The average monthly rent in Scottsdale is $1,914, self storage costs $157 on average and the cost of living (excluding rent) comes close to $750. However, median earnings in the city exceed $70K and unemployment has dropped below 7%. Major Scottsdale employers include Honor Health, Vanguard, Go Daddy, American Express and the Intel Corporation.
10. Virginia Beach, VA
Life in Virginia Beach is affordable, especially when considering what the city has to offer. Average rents are $1,450, the price of self storage is just below $100 and the general cost of living is around $719 (rent not included). Median earnings come close to $50K and despite its reputation as a resort city, many people have decided to permanently relocate here thanks to the friendly residents, a relaxed atmosphere and great job market opportunities. The local military bases employ a great deal of nearby residents, along with companies such as Sentara Healthcare, Geico and Amerigroup.
The 38-mile coastline provides family- and pet-friendly beaches, as well as plenty of chances to try all kinds of watersports and leisure activities. Other attractions include The Virginia Aquarium and the Marine Science Center. However, you will have a lot to do even if you don’t want to dip your toe in the water, literally. The city of Virginia Beach fosters a flourishing dining scene and numerous family-friendly attractions. Time flies when you’re enjoying the city’s skate parks and adventure parks. Finally, don’t forget about the shops, murals and coffeehouses of the vibrant and eclectic ViBe creative district.