The 11 Most Livable Small Towns in America

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Aspen, Colorado
Kristi Blokhin /

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.

AARP celebrates small towns in its Livability Index, which rates American communities across seven categories:

  • Housing
  • Neighborhood
  • Transportation
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Engagement
  • Opportunity

In the latest AARP index, a small town is a community with a population of between 5,000 and 24,999. Here’s a look at the top small towns as ranked by the AARP Livability Index.

Middleton, Wisconsin

Middleton, Wisconsin
MarynaG /

Overall livability score: 68 out of 100

Population: 19,764

The city of Middleton once was an area inhabited by the Algonquin tribe. They were known to build mounds, and you can still see their work in several locations in this part of Wisconsin.

Falcon Heights, Minnesota

Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights
Edgar Lee Espe /

Overall livability score: 68 out of 100

Population: 5,586

Public lands make up two-thirds of the city of Falcon Heights. The University of Minnesota owns some of that land, and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds is also located here.

Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming
JMcQ /

Overall livability score: 68 out of 100

Population: 10,585

Jackson is located at the southern end of the Jackson Hole valley. In 1920, the Wisconsin town became among the first in the United States to elect an all-female council.

Falls Church, Virginia

Trail in Falls Church, Virginia
Andrei Medvedev /

Overall livability score: 68 out of 100

Population: 14,309

There is plenty to keep you busy in Falls Church, including a lot of history. The Virginia city takes its name from the historic Falls Church, where President George Washington and Virginia statesman George Mason once were congregation members.

Pitkin County, Colorado

People skiing in Snowmass, Colorado
LanaG /

Overall livability score: 68 out of 100

Population: 17,980

Aspen, Basalt and Snowmass are all located in Pitkin County. The unincorporated community of Snowmass is the second-biggest ski area in all of Colorado, with 91 downhill trails stretching across more than 150 miles.

Pierre, South Dakota

Pierre, South Dakota
dustin77a /

Overall livability score: 69 out of 100

Population: 13,908

Pierre is South Dakota’s capital city. Hikers and bikers love the 116,000 acres of open space in nearby Fort Pierre National Grassland.

Salida, Colorado

Salida Colorado
Joseph Kreiss /

Overall livability score: 69 out of 100

Population: 5,543

Salida is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Soak away your worries in one of the Colorado city’s three public hot springs, including the Salida Hot Springs Pool, the largest indoor hot springs facility in the country.

La Crescent, Minnesota

La Crescent, Minnesota
Ken Wolter /

Overall livability score: 70 out of 100

Population: 5,135

La Crescent is Minnesota’s apple capital. The city hosts a jam-packed Apple Festival every year, complete with a parade, sports competitions and plenty of music and entertainment.

Orange City, Iowa

neal_johnson /

Overall livability score: 71 out of 100

Population: 6,158

Orange City works to preserve a distinct Dutch flavor. The Iowa city hosts an annual Tulip Festival, many buildings feature Dutch architecture, and the quaint downtown features a flowing water canal lined with miniature windmills.

Great Neck Plaza, New York

Great Neck Plaza New York
SevenMaps /

Overall livability score: 71 out of 100

Population: 6,980

The village of Great Neck Plaza sits in New York’s Nassau County. As one perk of living in this community, residents can join their neighbors for summer concerts at charming Firefighters Park.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen Colorado
jdross75 /

Overall livability score: 73 out of 100

Population: 7,721

The mountain community of Aspen, Colorado, appeals to skiers and nature buffs. Enjoy the music and related fun of both the Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Food & Wine Classic.

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