GOBankingRates

Don’t Overlook These Hidden Gem Cities With a High Quality of Life

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For almost a year and a half, due to the pandemic, many people’s lives have been all about change — and these changes may include finding a new place to live. Homebuyers often have their sights set on larger metropolitan areas boasting a ton of local amenities. But bigger cities come with bigger house payments, more traffic and more people per square mile, which begs the question: Is life in the big city still worth the exorbitant cost for the average homebuyer?

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According to a recent survey by Rent.com, 41% of Americans had to sacrifice saving money to afford to live in the city, and nearly 31% said city living wasn’t worth the hype. The idea of big-city living might sound appealing at first, but smaller cities can offer the same amenities as larger metropolises at a much lower cost of living and a better quality of life. There are plenty of underrated and charming towns that homebuyers may be missing out on.

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To find these “hidden gems” in every state, GOBankingRates analyzed cities with a population between 10,000 and 75,000, according to data sourced from AreaVibes and have information on the average 2021 home value in their area available from Zillow. If there were too few cities within the state that met this criterion, the population requirement was relaxed to include cities with a population of over 5,000 in states where there were so few cities with populations between 10,000 and 75,000. States for which the population requirement was relaxed: Alaska, Hawaii,and Vermont. The study also looked at the median list price of homes within the area. States are listed in alphabetical order, with the five hidden gem cities in each state ranked in order of highest livability score.

If you’re tired of dealing with high prices, traffic and crowds in the city, it’s worth looking elsewhere for affordable cities you’ll love to live in.

Check out these cities which offer a high quality of life. 

Last updated: July 28, 2021

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Alabama

  • Madison
    • Median list price: $293,397
    • Livability score: 90
  • Vestavia Hills
    • Median list price: $449,804
    • Livability score: 88
  • Mountain Brook
    • Median list price: $792,125
    • Livability score: 82
  • Homewood
    • Median list price: $449,683
    • Livability score: 82
  • Daphne
    • Median list price: $238,612
    • Livability score: 81

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Alaska

  • Kodiak
    • Median list price: $366,776
    • Livability score: 65
  • Homer
    • Median list price: $299,491
    • Livability score: 61
  • Juneau
    • Median list price: $438,385
    • Livability score: 60
  • Palmer
    • Median list price: $270,823
    • Livability score: 60
  • Ketchikan
    • Median list price: $302,616
    • Livability score: 55

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Arizona

  • Oro Valley
    • Median list price: $393,985
    • Livability score: 83
  • Anthem
    • Median list price: $437,537
    • Livability score: 79
  • Queen Creek
    • Median list price: $486,901
    • Livability score: 79
  • Goodyear
    • Median list price: $374,436
    • Livability score: 79
  • Apache Junction
    • Median list price: $292,580
    • Livability score: 78

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Arkansas

  • Bentonville
    • Median list price: $310,043
    • Livability score: 91
  • Bella Vista
    • Median list price: $231,308
    • Livability score: 81
  • Rogers
    • Median list price: $249,271
    • Livability score: 78
  • Siloam Springs
    • Median list price: $195,360
    • Livability score: 78
  • Centerton
    • Median list price: $234,642
    • Livability score: 74

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California

  • Lafayette
    • Median list price: $1,890,502
    • Livability score: 87
  • Saratoga
    • Median list price: $3,155,153
    • Livability score: 87
  • Los Altos
    • Median list price: $3,541,021
    • Livability score: 87
  • Los Gatos
    • Median list price: $2,354,803
    • Livability score: 87
  • Solana Beach
    • Median list price: $1,957,521
    • Livability score: 87
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Colorado

  • Superior
    • Median list price: $729,725
    • Livability score: 87
  • Louisville
    • Median list price: $754,382
    • Livability score: 87
  • Parker
    • Median list price: $609,179
    • Livability score: 83
  • Erie
    • Median list price: $622,385
    • Livability score: 81
  • Firestone
    • Median list price: $476,145
    • Livability score: 78
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Connecticut

  • West Hartford
    • Median list price: $337,983
    • Livability score: 85
  • Newington
    • Median list price: 270,512
    • Livability score: 84
  • Westport
    • Median list price: $1,341,934
    • Livability score: 84
  • Greenwich
    • Median list price: $1,708,037
    • Livability score: 83
  • Middletown
    • Median list price: $257,780
    • Livability score: 82
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Delaware

  • Hockessin
    • Median list price: $485,376
    • Livability score: 77
  • Middletown
    • Median list price: $401,440
    • Livability score: 73
  • Newark
    • Median list price: $285,069
    • Livability score: 72
  • Bear
    • Median list price: $329,086
    • Livability score: 72
  • Smyrna
    • Median list price: $300,862
    • Livability score: 71
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Florida

  • Westchase
    • Median list price: $426,115
    • Livability score: 92
  • Oldsmar
    • Median list price: $350,559
    • Livability score: 92
  • Fleming Island
    • Median list price: $336,490
    • Livability score: 91
  • Destin
    • Median list price: $486,013
    • Livability score: 89
  • Rockledge
    • Median list price: $315,373
    • Livability score: 88
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Georgia

  • Vinings
    • Median list price: $565,565
    • Livability score: 91
  • Peachtree City
    • Median list price: $388,903
    • Livability score: 89
  • Peachtree Corners
    • Median list price: $424,577
    • Livability score: 88
  • Woodstock
    • Median list price: $328,513
    • Livability score: 88
  • Suwanee
    • Median list price: $418,392
    • Livability score: 88
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Hawaii

  • Kailua
    • Median list price: $1,255,623
    • Livability score: 78
  • Mililani
    • Median list price: $880,019
    • Livability score: 73
  • Kaneohe
    • $960,644
    • Livability score: 72
  • Laie
    • Median list price: $1,118,517
    • Livability score: 70
  • Wailuku
    • Median list price: $720,123
    • Livability score: 69

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Idaho

  • Ammon
    • Median list price: $312,233
    • Livability score: 87
  • Hayden
    • Median list price: $492,855
    • Livability score: 86
  • Eagle
    • Median list price: $725,497
    • Livability score: 85
  • Garden City
    • Median list price: $463,188
    • Livability score: 83
  • Post Falls
    • Median list price: $403,706
    • Livability score: 82
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Illinois

  • Algonquin
    • Median list price: $293,991
    • Livability score: 88
  • South Elgin
    • Median list price: $267,067
    • Livability score: 88
  • Warrenville
    • Median list price: $258,602
    • Livability score: 87
  • Schaumburg
    • Median list price: $318,248
    • Livability score: 87
  • Lake in the Hills
    • Median list price: $273,089
    • Livability score: 87
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Indiana

  • Saint John
    • Median list price: $357,945
    • Livability score: 90
  • Plainfield
    • Median list price: $252,787
    • Livability score: 89
  • Brownsburg
    • Median list price: $265,662
    • Livability score: 89
  • Zionsville
    • Median list price: $462,597
    • Livability score: 89
  • Munster
    • Median list price: $305,438
    • Livability score: 89
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Iowa

  • Ankeny
    • Median list price: $287,933
    • Livability score: 97
  • Urbandale
    • Median list price: $287,712
    • Livability score: 97
  • Clive
    • Median list price: $337,486
    • Livability score: 94
  • Waukee
    • Median list price: $305,646
    • Livability score: 94
  • Marion
    • Median list price: $305,646
    • Livability score: 94
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Kansas

  • Prairie Village
    • Median list price: $370,065
    • Livability score: 94
  • Lenexa
    • Median list price: $350,319
    • Livability score: 87
  • Leawood
    • Median list price: $579,594
    • Livability score: 84
  • Shawnee
    • Median list price: $314,221
    • Livability score: 84
  • Hays
    • Median list price: $197,153
    • Livability score: 82
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Kentucky

  • Fort Thomas
    • Median list price: $279,642
    • Livability score: 95
  • Mount Washington
    • Median list price: $244,451
    • Livability score: 87
  • Jeffersontown
    • Median list price: $259,748
    • Livability score: 83
  • Berea
    • Median list price: $173,211
    • Livability score: 81
  • Georgetown
    • Median list price: $227,882
    • Livability score: 80
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Louisiana

  • Mandeville
    • Median list price: $314,411
    • Livability score: 89
  • Youngsville
    • Median list price: $220,564
    • Livability score: 87
  • River Ridge
    • Median list price: $314,492
    • Livability score: 85
  • Broussard
    • Median list price: $214,074
    • Livability score: 83
  • Belle Chasse
    • Median list price: $319,145
    • Livability score: 82
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Maine

  • Brunswick
    • Median list price: $372,913
    • Livability score: 79
  • Saco
    • Median list price: $375,304
    • Livability score: 78
  • South Portland
    • Median list price: $396,351
    • Livability score: 74
  • Auburn
    • Median list price: $214,345
    • Livability score: 74
  • Westbrook
    • Median list price: $340,668
    • Livability score: 71
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Maryland

  • Bethesda
    • Median list price: $1,162,766
    • Livability score: 82
  • North Potomac
    • Median list price: $755,194
    • Livability score: 81
  • Bel Air
    • Median list price: $391,211
    • Livability score: 79
  • Severna Park
    • Median list price: $595,848
    • Livability score: 78
  • North Bethesda
    • Median list price: $782,389
    • Livability score: 78
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Massachusetts

  • Belmont
    • Median list price: $1,348,260
    • Livability score: 89
  • Arlington
    • Median list price: $925,264
    • Livability score: 88
  • Winchester
    • Median list price: $1,300,854
    • Livability score: 88
  • Brookline
    • Median list price: $2,074,947
    • Livability score: 86
  • Dedham
    • Median list price: $627,526
    • Livability score: 86
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    Michigan

    • East Grand Rapids
      • Median list price: $493,726
      • Livability score: 97
    • Berkley
      • Median list price: $261,599
      • Livability score: 96
    • Grosse Pointe Woods
      • Median list price: $299,503
      • Livability score: 95
    • Grosse Pointe Park
      • Median list price: $439,322
      • Livability score: 95
    • Farmington
      • Median list price: $264,063
      • Livability score: 94
    LawrenceSawyer / Getty Images

    Minnesota

    • Champlin
      • Median list price: $311,520
      • Livability score: 93
    • North Mankato
      • Median list price: $246,229
      • Livability score: 92
    • Chaska
      • Median list price: $393,263
      • Livability score: 88
    • Elk River
      • Median list price: $317,872
      • Livability score: 88
    • Stillwater
      • Median list price: $366,853
      • Livability score: 87
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    Mississippi

    • Petal
      • Median list price: $158,485
      • Livability score: 83
    • Brandon
      • Median list price: $217,876
      • Livability score: 81
    • Ocean Springs
      • Median list price: $193,661
      • Livability score: 81
    • Madison
      • Median list price: $295,591
      • Livability score: 80
    • Starkville
      • Median list price: $189,658
      • Livability score: 79

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    Missouri

    • Webster Groves 
      • Median list price: $354,201
      • Livability score: 95
    • Ballwin
      • Median list price: $349,205
      • Livability score: 95
    • Kirkwood
      • Median list price: $394,054
      • Livability score: 92
    • Eureka
      • Median list price: $321,055
      • Livability score: 92
    • Crestwood
      • Median list price: $275,440
      • Livability score: 91
      DianeBentleyRaymond / Getty Images

      Montana

      • Bozeman
        • Median list price: $615,225
        • Livability score: 84
      • Missoula
        • Median list price: $434,665
        • Livability score: 65
      • Kallispell
        • Median list price: $409,790
        • Livability score: 65
      • Great Falls
        • Median list price: $226,934
        • Livability score: 63
      • Helena
        • Median list price: $351,243
        • Livability score: 62
      Aspects and Angles / Shutterstock.com

      Nebraska

      • Papillion
        • Median list price: $303,892
        • Livability score: 94
      • La Vista
        • Median list price: $236,369
        • Livability score:92
      • Beatrice
        • Median list price: $113,406
        • Livability score: 92
      • Hastings
        • Median list price: $137,298
        • Livability score: 91
      • Norfolk
        • Median list price: $171,884
        • Livability score: 91
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      Nevada

      • Boulder City
        • Median list price: $377,103
        • Livability score: 82
      • Mesquite
        • Median list price: $327,128
        • Livability score: 77
      • Carson City
        • Median list price: $394,375
        • Livability score: 72
      • Elko
        • Median list price: $310,361
        • Livability score: 71
      • Spring Creek
        • Median list price: $304,876
        • Livability score: 64
      DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

      New Hampshire

      • Plymouth
        • Median list price: $253,289
        • Livability score: 87
      • Dover
        • Median list price: $378,813
        • Livability score: 86
      • Derry
        • Median list price: $397,838
        • Livability score: 81
      • Durham
        • Median list price: $466,835
        • Livability score: 80
      • Concord
        • Median list price: $309,657
        • Livability score: 80
        James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

        New Jersey

        • Summit
          • Median list price: $1,028,896
          • Livability score: 86
        • Pompton Lakes
          • Median list price: $375,951
          • Livability score: 85
        • Princeton
          • Median list price: $729,550
          • Livability score: 85
        • Haddonfield
          • Median list price: $586,796
          • Livability score: 84
        • New Providence
          • Median list price: $666,795
          • Livability score: 84
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        New Mexico

        • Los Alamos
          • Median list price: $360,222
          • Livability score: 83
        • Lovington
          • Median list price: $360,046
          • Livability score: 83
        • Alamogordo
          • Median list price: $143,845
          • Livability score: 72
        • Hobbs
          • Median list price: $190,448
          • Livability score: 66
        • Sunland Park
          • Median list price: $144,041
          • Livability score: 65
          Pierre Williot / Shutterstock.com

          New York

          • Tonawanda
            • Median list price: $165,303
            • Livability score: 87
          • West Seneca
            • Median list price: $1202,160
            • Livability score: 87
          • North Tonawanda
            • Median list price: $194,590
            • Livability score: 85
          • Depew
            • Median list price: $189,014
            • Livability score: 84
          • Saratoga Springs
            • Median list price: $406,648
            • Livability score: 83

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          North Carolina

          • Morrisville
            • Median list price: $370,976
            • Livability score: 91
          • Holly Springs
            • Median list price: $386,465
            • Livability score: 91
          • Apex
            • Median list price: $423,663
            • Livability score: 90
          • Cornelius
            • Median list price: $394,724
            • Livability score: 90
          • Wake Forest
            • Median list price: $381,110
            • Livability score: 89
          Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

          North Dakota

          • West Fargo
            • Median list price: 268,999
            • Livability score: 90
          • Jamestown
            • Median list price: $172,343
            • Livability score: 80
          • Bismarck
            • Median list price: $313,363
            • Livability score: 79
          • Dickinson
            • Median list price: $277,421
            • Livability score: 78
          • Grand Forks
            • Median list price: $227,089
            • Livability score: 75
          TrentGarverick / Getty Images/iStockphoto

          Ohio

          • Hilliard
            • Median list price: $316,808
            • Livability score: 98
          • Upper Arlington
            • Median list price: $547,491
            • Livability score: 97
          • Mason
            • Median list price: $383,882
            • Livability score: 96
          • Worthington
            • Median list price: $388,274
            • Livability score: 96
          • Westerville
            • Median list price: $366,178
            • Livability score: 95
          cineman69 / Getty Images

          Oklahoma

          • Jenks
            • Median list price: $249,865
            • Livability score: 88
          • Moore
            • Median list price: $166,556
            • Livability score: 87
          • Bixby
            • Median list price: $240,337
            • Livability score: 87
          • Weatherford
            • Median list price: $173,349
            • Livability score: 86
          • Yukon
            • Median list price: $194,221
            • Livability score: 86
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          Oregon

          • West Linn
            • Median list price: $656,193
            • Livability score: 86
          • Sherwood
            • Median list price: $542,575
            • Livability score: 85
          • Cedar Mill
            • Median list price: $734,792
            • Livability score: 85
          • Lake Oswego
            • Median list price: $801,453
            • Livability score: 84
          • Oak Hills
            • Median list price: $559,506
            • Livability score: 84

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            Pennsylvania

            • Bethel Park
              • Median list price: $256,103
              • Livability score: 93
            • Hershey
              • Median list price: $307,448
              • Livability score: 88
            • Murrysville
              • Median list price: $315,462
              • Livability score: 88
            • Ardmore
              • Median list price: $404,998
              • Livability score: 88
            • Lower Burrell
              • Median list price: $176,821
              • Livability score: 85
            • Whitehall
              • Median list price: $176,821
              • Livability score: 85
            DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

            Rhode Island

            • East Providence
              • Median list price: $303,170
              • Livability score: 75
            • Newport
              • Median list price: $678,740
              • Livability score: 69
            • Westerly
              • Median list price: $441,923
              • Livability score: 68
            • Pawtucket
              • Median list price: $277,312
              • Livability score: 64
            • Woonsocket
              • Median list price: $271,873
              • Livability score: 59
            Steven Starr Photography / Shutterstock.com

            South Carolina

            • Mauldin
              • Median list price: $223,470
              • Livability score: 86
            • Hanahan
              • Median list price: $292,934
              • Livability score: 86
            • Mount Pleasant
              • Median list price: $562,733
              • Livability score: 85
            • Simpsonville
              • Median list price: $273,089
              • Livability score: 85
            • Fort Mill
              • Median list price: $376,495
              • Livability score: 84
            ©Shutterstock.com

            South Dakota

            • Brookings
              • Median list price: $221,760
              • Livability score: 84
            • Watertown
              • Median list price: $217,882
              • Livability score: 82
            • Vermillion
              • Median list price: $190,075
              • Livability score: 80
            • Pierre
              • Median list price: $223,977
              • Livability score: 79
            • Mitchell
              • Median list price: $175,220
              • Livability score: 76
            KennStilger47 / Shutterstock.com

            Tennessee

            • Spring Hill
              • Median list price: $359,624
              • Livability score: 90
            • Franklin
              • Median list price: $588,549
              • Livability score: 89
            • Collierville
              • Median list price: $407,921
              • Livability score: 89
            • Hendersonville
              • Median list price: $367,303
              • Livability score: 88
            • White House
              • Median list price: $290,480
              • Livability score: 87
            Mark Taylor Cunningham / Shutterstock.com

            Texas

            • Keller
              • Median list price: $476,054
              • Livability score: 95
            • Cinco Ranch
              • Median list price: $401,305
              • Livability score: 95
            • Trophy Club
              • Median list price: $510,037
              • Livability score: 94
            • Rockwall
              • Median list price: $339,535
              • Livability score: 94
            • Seabrook
              • Median list price: $302,223
              • Livability score: 93

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            Utah

            • Centerville
              • Median list price: $482,660
              • Livability score: 83
            • Holladay
              • Median list price: $714,567
              • Livability score: 83
            • Pleasant Grove
              • Median list price: $467,391
              • Livability score: 83
            • Bountiful
              • Median list price: $468,192
              • Livability score: 83
            • Kaysville
              • Median list price: $524,685
              • Livability score: 83
            SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

            Vermont

            • Middlebury
              • Median list price: $297,627
              • Livability score: 78
            • Essex Junction
              • Median list price: $431,357
              • Livability score: 78
            • South Burlington
              • Median list price: $409,915
              • Livability score: 76
            • Montpelier
              • Median list price: $308,730
              • Livability score: 73
            • Burlington
              • Median list price: $406,866
              • Livability score: 69
            Alfred Wekelo / Shutterstock.com

            Virginia

            • Tuckahoe
              • Median list price: $344,421
              • Livability score: 86
            • Bon Air
              • Median list price: $299,353
              • Livability score: 85
            • McLean
              • Median list price: $1,301,030
              • Livability score: 85
            • Reston
              • Median list price: $631,900
              • Livability score: 84
            • Glen Allen
              • Median list price: $385,903
              • Livability score: 84
            ©Shutterstock.com

            Washington

            • Samamish
              • Median list price: $1,189,340
              • Livability score: 86
            • Mercer Island
              • Median list price: $1,921,801
              • Livability score: 85
            • Mill Creek
              • Median list price: $774,643
              • Livability score: 85
            • Maple Valley
              • Median list price: $613,947
              • Livability score: 84
            • Bainbridge Island
              • Median list price: $1,084,170
              • Livability score: 84
            Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

            West Virginia

            • Vienna
              • Median list price: $140,718
              • Livability score: 85
            • Morgantown
              • Median list price: $230,120
              • Livability score: 78
            • Weirton
              • Median list price: $95,574
              • Livability score: 77
            • Wheeling
              • Median list price: $108,225
              • Livability score: 76
            • South Charleston
              • Median list price: $126,857
              • Livability score: 75
            Freekee / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 1

            Wisconsin

            • De Pere
              • Median list price: $266,106
              • Livability score: 93
            • Greendale
              • Median list price: $289,902
              • Livability score: 92
            • Grafton
              • Median list price: $323,853
              • Livability score: 91
            • Whitefish Bay
              • Median list price: $508,806
              • Livability score: 91
            • Sun Prairie
              • Median list price: $321,116
              • Livability score: 89
            Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock.com

            Wyoming

            • Sheridan
              • Median list price: $296,049
              • Livability score: 84
            • Green River
              • Median list price: $251,025
              • Livability score: 82
            • Rock Springs
              • Median list price: $245,650
              • Livability score: 82
            • Gilette
              • Median list price: $278,103
              • Livability score: 81
            • Jackson
              • Median list price: $1,020,604
              • Livability score: 80

            More From GOBankingRates

            Alexandria Bova contributed to the reporting for this article. 

              Methodology: GOBankingRates looked at the cities in every state that: (1) have a population between 10,000 and 75,000 according to AreaVibes
              and (2) have information on the average 2021 home value in their area available from Zillow.

              GOBankingRates then ranked the cities in every state that met the above criteria by their livability scores from AreaVibes. This allowed GOBankingRates to idenitfy the 5 hidden gem cities in every state with the highest livability scores.

              The population requirement was relaxed to include cities with a population of over 5,000 in states where there were so few cities with populations between 10,000 and 75,000 that 5 cities that met our 2 criteria for inclusion could not be found among the top 25 cities with the highest livability scores in their state.
              States for which the population requirement was relaxed: Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont.

              All data was collected on and is up-to-date as of July 19, 2021.