25 Popular Small Towns to Live in the U.S.

Devon Thorsby
·15 min read

Embrace the small-town life.

For many, the big city just doesn't cut it. The fast pace, noise and density of a major metro area sends some of us in search of more land, quiet evenings and uncrowded streets. But how do you find a small town that offers all that plus job opportunities and a welcoming community? Here's a look at the fastest-growing small cities in the U.S. that have between 1,000 and 50,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 estimate, the most recent full data set available. Every destination on this list has more than doubled its population between 2010 and 2019, and many offer enticements such as affordability, job opportunities and perks for families, such as inviting communities, unique local attractions and access to larger metropolitan areas.

Westlake, Florida

2010 Population: 6

2019 Population: 1,447

If you like the idea of being a part of a town's beginnings, you may want to look at Westlake, Florida. A part of Palm Beach County, Westlake was only incorporated as a city in 2016. It's a master-planned community with residential, commercial and public property being developed throughout. Prior to its incorporation, the area had all of six residents calling it home, but the population has shot up to nearly 1,500 residents as of 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2019, Wellington Regional Medical Center purchased 35 acres in Westlake, and has already opened an emergency care facility there as an extension of the main Wellington hospital campus, roughly a 20-minute drive from town.

Vineyard, Utah

2010 Population: 139

2019 Population: 11,866

The town of Vineyard is located close to Orem and Provo on the eastern shore of Utah Lake, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City. The Geneva Steel Mill that defined the area starting in World War II closed in 2001, and since then the town has made significant efforts to clean up the mill area and make it safe for people to work and live. New development has focused on both commercial properties and residential neighborhoods, helping grow the population beyond 11,000 in just nine years. Vineyard today is not just a quiet place on the outskirts of larger cities, but a self-sufficient town in its own right.

Fulshear, Texas

2010 Population: 1,134

2019 Population: 13,914

Located on the outskirts of the Houston metro area, Fulshear was incorporated as a town in 1977 but didn't see its population surpass 1,000 until the 21st century. With an estimated population of nearly 14,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fulshear has benefited from the growth and expansion of the Houston area. Fulshear's local government website points to local attractions such as hiking and biking trails, vineyards and even spots to see alligators in their natural habitat. While housing and commercial developments continue to bring people to the area, Fulshear appears to maintain its small-town feel, with local grocery stores and family-owned restaurants.

Timnath, Colorado

2010 Population: 625

2019 Population: 4,998

About an hour's drive north of Denver, the town of Timnath has long been home to residents who primarily work in farming and agriculture. Its short Main Street is reminiscent of many classic small towns, complete with local shops and restaurants, a post office and the elementary school a few blocks away. However, the growth of Fort Collins, located less than 10 miles from the center of Timnath, has led to expansion in nearby towns as well. Walmart and Costco now have locations with Timnath addresses, which not only brings people who aren't Timnath residents to the area regularly, but also benefits people looking to live farther out but still enjoy the retail options of a larger metro area.

Watford City, North Dakota

2010 Population: 1,744

2019 Population: 7,835

If you're looking to live far from the hustle and bustle of a major city, North Dakota is a good place to start. Watford City has seen its population grow due to the North Dakota oil boom, and the town has focused on creating the infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of people moving to the area for work. Its website even offers a relocation guide to introduce new residents to local businesses, resources for getting a mortgage and finding a real estate agent, local clubs and workforce training options.

Granville, West Virginia

2010 Population: 781

2018 Population Estimate: 2,590

Located along the Monongahela River and across the water from Morgantown, West Virginia, Granville has seen its population more than triple since 2010, thanks to its development of a major shopping center that caters to residents living throughout Monongalia County. The University Town Center area in Granville includes a Walmart, Target, Sam's Club, national chain restaurants, hotels and apartments that draw people to the town for a few hours, as well as to live permanently. Locals can root for the West Virginia Black Bears, a minor league baseball team that calls Granville home.

Dripping Springs, Texas

2010 Population: 1,788

2019 Population: 5,708

If you love all that Austin, Texas, offers but would like an escape from the hustle and bustle, Dripping Springs may be the right choice for you. This tiny town had a population of just 1,788 in 2010, and has seen more than 200% growth as of 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, with a population below 6,000, you can expect more space between houses and plenty of outdoor activities nearby in the Texas Hill Country. One of Dripping Springs' best-known attractions is Hamilton Pool, part of a natural preserve and widely hailed as one of the best swimming holes in Texas. To keep Hamilton Pool from overcrowding, visits are by reservation only.

Whitestown, Indiana

2010 Population: 2,867

2019 Population: 9,092

Whitestown benefits from its proximity to Indianapolis, which makes it easy for residents to commute into the city for work. Whitestown describes itself as an "ag-urban" community, noting its location near farmland, retail and businesses. While small towns often offer a lower cost of living compared to major urban centers, Whitestown residents benefit from the affordability of Indianapolis as well: Indianapolis ranks No. 11 on the U.S. News list of Best Affordable Places to Live, requiring just 20.4% of the area's median household income to cover the cost of living.

Cave Springs, Arkansas

2010 Population: 1,729

2019 Population: 5,276

Cave Springs is another small town seeing its population grow along with a nearby metro area. Just a 15-mile drive from Fayetteville, Cave Springs also benefits from its proximity to Interstate 49, which can take you north into Missouri or south into central Arkansas. Fayetteville residents have easy access to outdoor pursuits and can enjoy local fishing and hiking trails at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. A quick trip to the Ozarks is possible as well, requiring roughly a two-hour drive each way.

Liberty Hill, Texas

2010 Population: 967

2019 Population: 2,931

Another small town in the outskirts of the Austin metro area, Liberty Hill has grown to 2,931 residents from the 967 reported in the 2010 census. With the official tagline "Freedom to Grow" on the city's website, Liberty Hill is home to annual activities aimed at attracting visitors and giving locals a small-town feel with an artsy edge. It hosts a Christmas Festival that includes a parade and gathering of food trucks as well as a hot air balloon and sculpture festival that brings in artists and balloonists from around the world. The local Lion's Foundation Park, which is privately owned, is home to a sculpture park for the public to enjoy.

Thompson's Station, Tennessee

2010 Population: 2,194

2019 Population: 6,567

Named for the railroad station built in the town during the mid-19th century, Thompson's Station has had residents since at least the 1700s. The small town is located 25 miles south of Nashville, making it a more rural and less expensive option for those who work in the city. The storied history of Thompson's Station also attracts visitors who come to see evidence of the first European-American settlers in the late 1700s and the Civil War battle fought in the town. Thompson's Station maintains the former pasture where the battle took place, which is named Preservation Park.

Iowa Colony, Texas

2010 Population: 1,170

2019 Population: 3,233

This tiny town in southeastern Texas gets its name from its founders that hailed from the Des Moines, Iowa, area. As a part of the outer Houston metro area, Iowa Colony remained very small, with just a few dozen residents, for much of the time since its founding in 1908. Expansion of the Houston metro area contributed to growing interest in the sparsely populated spot, which reached 1,170 residents in 2010, and in the last nine years, census estimates note the city has nearly tripled its population. Most homes for sale in Iowa Colony are new construction options, as builders like Highland Homes and Shea Homes develop new neighborhoods in the city.

Manor, Texas

2010 Population: 5,037

2019 Population: 13,866

Outside Austin, Manor is seeing new housing developments like many of the small towns on this list. But it also has older neighborhoods closer to the center of town, with closely built houses and locally owned businesses a few blocks away. National retail and fast-food brands like Walmart and Starbucks also reflect the growth of the area. Manor is a certified community in the Film Friendly Texas program, which means job opportunities and film industry training for locals, and the media industry can take advantage of incentives that make it easier to film in the town.

Celina, Texas

2010 Population: 6,028

2019 Population: 16,299

On the northern side of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Celina has seen more than 10,000 new residents move to town since 2010. While it remains a small town compared to much of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it may not stay that way for long. Celina's city officials are planning for a lot more growth -- the city website notes the projected population, once the area is fully developed, may be around 350,000 people. Still, buying in Celina now may allow you to see a hefty increase in your home's value as demand continues to rise in the area.

Fruitland Park, Florida

2010 Population: 4,078

2019 Population: 10,730

Located in central Florida, Fruitland Park offers ample access to lakes, rivers and ponds. As Florida continues to see more and more people moving to the state, homebuilders have been answering the call for more housing, and it appears Fruitland Park is seeing its population grow as a result. National homebuilder Maronda Homes has developed a community called The Glen, noting that it's close to a few small cities including Leesburg and is roughly an hour's drive from Orlando.

Prosper, Texas

2010 Population: 9,423

2019 Population: 24,579

With a population of less than 10,000 in 2010, Prosper has grown to more than 24,000 residents, making it the largest small city on this list to see its population more than double in a nine-year period. Located on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Prosper appears to be living up to its name. While the older downtown area looks like a typical Texas small town, complete with small storefronts and silos visible in the distance, much of Prosper's geography is characterized by developed residential neighborhoods nestled alongside farmland.

Melissa, Texas

2010 Population: 4,695

2019 Population: 12,117

With a population over 12,000 as of 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's estimate, Melissa is located on the northern outskirts of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Residential development has helped bring more people to Melissa, which offers a small-town atmosphere and proximity to a major city. The city's parks and recreation department and neighborhood development office work together to help residential development go hand in hand with increased access to public outdoor spaces.

Josephine, Texas

2010 Population: 812

2019 Population: 2,094

Josephine is a classic rural Texas town, with few residents, plenty of agricultural land and a population largely made up of homeowners, as home prices are low compared to major cities. However, Josephine is undergoing a change as the city and developers work to establish retail centers, create a dynamic downtown and designate land for parks, trails and open spaces that many people moving to a new town are eager to see. The city of Josephine's website even lists available swaths of property available to build on to encourage developers to consider investing in the area.

McLendon-Chisholm, Texas

2010 Population: 1,373

2019 Population: 3,455

East of Dallas is McLendon-Chisholm, a largely rural town with an increasing number of residential subdivisions in development. Homes on the market in McLendon-Chisholm are sprawling, with plenty of bedrooms for a growing family or one that expects to host a lot of visitors. You can find existing homes and new-construction options for less than $300,000, but larger houses climb beyond $1 million on the local multiple listing service. Don't expect much of a traditional Main Street in McLendon-Chisholm, however, as the area appears to remain largely agricultural and residential.

Valencia, Pennsylvania

2010 Population: 551

2019 Population: 1,362

With a population of just 1,362, this Pennsylvania borough is the smallest town on the list. Valencia is located in the western part of the state, about 20 miles from Pittsburgh. The development of new residential neighborhoods has been drawing people to the area, where residents can enjoy the benefits of living in a new house and small-town life.

Hardeeville, South Carolina

2010 Population: 2,952

2019 Population: 7,278

Located north of Savannah, Georgia, Hardeeville is just a 30-minute drive to the coast. Residents don't even have to go that far for fishing and boating, though, as the Savannah River runs along the western edge of town. Hardeeville is a part of the Hilton Head Island metro area, which is both a major vacation spot and a permanent destination for people seeking warm weather and proximity to the ocean.

Manvel, Texas

2010 Population: 5,179

2019 Population: 12,671

Manvel is located within the larger Houston metro area and south of the city itself. Manvel doesn't offer much by way of a core downtown area with shops, but its growth is largely due to the development of master-planned communities in the area. With a large commercial area in nearby Pearland that includes a Target, Costco and outdoor mall, Manvel residents don't have to travel more than 15 minutes by car to get everything they need. More developed suburbs with office, retail and industrial businesses are an easy commute from Manvel; otherwise, it takes just half an hour to get to Houston.

Rock, Wisconsin

2010 Population: 855

2019 Population: 2,034

Not to be confused with another small town named Rock in Rock County, Wisconsin, the town of Rock in Wood County has seen its population increase from 855 in 2010 to an estimated 2,034 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Located in the middle of the state, Rock is far from Wisconsin's most populous cities like Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay, and is almost entirely made up of agricultural land and forest. However, the neighboring city of Marshfield is just a short drive away, which has more than 18,000 residents, along with the national retailers and independent Main Street-style businesses many people hope to have nearby when they live in a rural area.

Buda, Texas

2010 Population: 7,295

2019 Population: 16,906

One Texas town with plenty of charm is Buda, located about 15 miles south of Austin. Buda has many big-city attractions and amenities, with events like a "sip and stroll" featuring wine tasting while shopping, and "First Saturday," a monthly event to encourage local shopping, with live music, sales and food and drink offerings. Buda also touts itself as the "outdoor capital of Texas," with 13 parks and natural areas in town offering fishing, playgrounds, pavilions, skate parks and more.

Duck Hill, Mississippi

2010 Population: 732

2019 Population: 1,646

One of the smallest towns on this list, Duck Hill has seen its population grow from 732 to 1,646 in a nine-year period. This rural town has long been prone to flooding, but the city has begun a sustainability effort to slow the flow of water, reduce flooding and add green infrastructure to the town, according to a May 2019 article from The Daily Yonder, a news source focused on rural America. The efforts of the town have created job opportunities and training for those looking to build a more sustainable community.

Here are the 25 most popular small towns to live in the U.S.:

-- Westlake, Florida.

-- Vineyard, Utah.

-- Fulshear, Texas.

-- Timnath, Colorado.

-- Watford City, North Dakota.

-- Granville, West Virginia.

-- Dripping Springs, Texas.

-- Whitestown, Indiana.

-- Cave Springs, Arkansas.

-- Liberty Hill, Texas.

-- Thompson's Station, Tennessee.

-- Iowa Colony, Texas.

-- Manor, Texas.

-- Celina, Texas.

-- Fruitland Park, Florida.

-- Prosper, Texas.

-- Melissa, Texas.

-- Josephine, Texas.

-- McLendon-Chisholm, Texas.

-- Valencia, Pennsylvania.

-- Hardeeville, South Carolina.

-- Manvel, Texas.

-- Rock, Wisconsin.

-- Buda, Texas.

-- Duck Hill, Mississippi.