The 10 Most Livable Small Towns in America

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happy women small town USA
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The charm of an American small town has been well-documented in movies, novels, and Norman Rockwell paintings. And yes, even today, small-town life is thriving.

In 2022, AARP added a small town category to its Livability Index, which rates American communities across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity. The small town category covers communities with populations of from 5,000 to 24,999.

Here’s a look at the top small towns as ranked by the AARP Livability Index.

Manorhaven, New York

Manorhaven New York
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This town’s overall score: 68 out of 100

Manorhaven is a village in Nassau County, on the north shore of Long Island, east of New York City. The AARP Livability Index scored it especially high for engagement, which measures the number of cultural and entertainment institutions as well as voting rates and social involvement. Residents with green thumbs may want to engage in village life through the Growing Love Community Garden, where neighbors can grow and share their own food.

Salida, Colorado

Salida Colorado
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This town’s overall score: 68 out of 100

Salida is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, but snow sports and mountain climbing aren’t the only way to stay busy there, as its score of 97 out of 100 for engagement indicates. After a busy day, you might soak away your worries in one of three public hot springs, including the Salida Hot Springs Pool, the largest indoor hot springs facility in the country.

White Rock, New Mexico

White Rock New Mexico
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This town’s overall score: 68 out of 100

White Rock scored especially high in the engagement and opportunity categories of the Livability Index, scoring 92 out of 100 in each of those areas. It neighbors Los Alamos, the home of the World War II-era Manhattan Project, and another member of the top 10 small towns list. The striking White Rock Visitor Center is the starting point for tourists and residents who want to brush up on the area’s unique place in history.

St. Anthony, Minnesota

St. Anthony Minnesota
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This town’s overall score: 69 out of 100

The town of St. Anthony, a suburb of Minneapolis, scored especially high for engagement. That’s easy to understand as Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul boast plenty of natural beauty, thanks to many lakes and the historic Mississippi River, and also attractions including the Guthrie Theater and Minnesota State Fair.

La Crescent, Minnesota

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This town’s overall score: 69 out of 100

La Crescent is the Gopher State’s apple capital. The town hosts a jam-packed Apple Festival every year, complete with a parade, sports competitions and plenty of music and entertainment. And La Crescent scored an 89 out of 100 in the opportunity category, which looks at such criteria as job availability and graduation rates.

Falls Church, Virginia

Trail in Falls Church, Virginia
Andrei Medvedev /

This town’s overall score: 69 out of 100

No question, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Falls Church, which scored a perfect 100 out of 100 in the engagement category of the AARP Livability Index. There’s plenty of history, too. The town takes its name from the historic Falls Church, where President George Washington and Virginia statesman George Mason once were congregation members.

Orange City, Iowa

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This town’s overall score: 70 out of 100

Orange City works to preserve a distinct Dutch flavor. The town hosts an annual Tulip Festival, many buildings feature Dutch architecture, and the quaint downtown features a flowing water canal lined with miniature windmills. Dutch charm may not have been a category on the AARP Livability Index, but Orange City scored a whopping 97 out of 100 for opportunity. That category looks at such factors as job availability and graduation rates.

Great Neck Plaza, New York

Great Neck Plaza New York
SevenMaps /

This town’s overall score: 71 out of 100

The village of Great Neck Plaza sits in New York’s Nassau County, like Manorhaven on Long Island’s north shore. It earned its highest score in the transportation category, coming in with 89 out of 100 points. As one perk of living in this community, residents can join their neighbors for summer concerts at charming Firefighters’ Park.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Los Alamos New Mexico
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This town’s overall score: 71 out of 100

You may have heard of Los Alamos because of its World War II history — it was home to the nuclear weapons research of the Manhattan Project. Now, it scores high on the livability index in part because of its high opportunity score, which refers to age diversity, jobs per worker, high-school graduation rate and more. Seek out the Los Alamos History Museum to learn about the city’s role in history, from homesteading through WWII and the Cold War.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen Colorado
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This town’s overall score: 72 out of 100

The mountain town of Aspen appeals to skiers and nature buffs, for sure, but it’s got more going for it than that. Aspen scored 97 out of 100 points in the engagement category, meaning there is plenty that keeps residents busy. That includes the music and related fun of the Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Food & Wine Classic, both of which come to Aspen in the summer.