Whether you’re in it for the sports, the food, or the down-to-earth citizens, the Midwest is an all-around great place to live. Home to both bustling big cities and cozy small towns, there’s the perfect place to call home for everyone in one of America’s friendliest regions. Pinning down where exactly is the perfect spot for you can be a challenge, but you’ll certainly want to be in one of the best places to live in the Midwest.
Research shows that there’s more than just stereotypes behind the Midwest’s cheery reputation. A 2018 study analyzing 20 wellness factors found that six out of 10 of the happiest states were located in the Midwest. Minnesota scored the highest, with South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and North Dakota rounding out the top five.
Moving to the region might also come with new friendships. A 2020 survey of Americans found that Midwesterners are the most likely people to befriend their neighbors. This area of the U.S. is the perfect place for social butterflies to flourish.
With so many friendly faces to meet and great places to choose from, finding the right Midwest hometown can feel a bit like throwing a dart at a map. To take some of the guesswork out of things, StudyFinds took to the internet to hunt down expert opinions on the best places to live in the Midwest. These are our top picks, but as always, if you have a favorite that we didn’t include, drop it in the comments below!
The List: Best Places To Live In The Midwest, According To Experts
1. Carmel, Indiana
Our top pick has all the charm of a small town and all of the culture, opportunities, and amenities of the city. The city is packed with parks, coffee shops, breweries, and art that make it a phenomenal place to call home for young and old. In fact, “thanks to its high median household income, good safety, and affordable amenities, Carmel has been recognized as one of the best places to live in America,” notes ExtraSpace.
One of Carmel’s most appealing features is its thriving economy. With a median household income of $115,109, Carmel’s citizens have access to all kinds of employment opportunities.
And thanks to its proximity to Indianapolis, jobseekers have even more options within reach. “Carmel Indiana has been showered in accolades for its quality of life,” Stacker says. “The first-class schools, low unemployment and poverty rates, next to nonexistent crime levels, and abundance of parks and outdoor spaces are hard to beat,” adds Money Inc.
2. Des Moines, Iowa
With a plethora of remote and in-person job opportunities, low cost-of-living, and thriving economy, it’s no wonder that Iowa’s capital lands in our top five. “Des Moines makes an excellent choice for those looking to experience big city living on a shoestring,” says Money Inc.
The downtown features restaurants, libraries, coffee shops, local businesses, and more, leaving no shortage of options for a day or night on the town. “Des Moines is known for its numerous scenic public parks throughout the city. It also has top-notch museums, including the Des Moines Art Center,” adds Haven Lifestyles.
For students, Des Moines is a great place to be. “The suburban metropolitan area boasts some of the best schools in the region,” Obligona notes. “The City of Des Moines is home to Drake University, recognized as one of the finest universities in the Midwest. Plus, within easy driving distance are Iowa University in Iowa City and Iowa State University in Ames.”
3. Overland Park, Kansas
As the second most populous city in Kansas, Overland Park is a happening place to call home. “Overland Park is an ideal place to live because it combines entertainment with a rapidly growing economy, a safe community, and affordable real estate,” says Haven Lifestyles. “This major city has a population of nearly 200,000 residents, with great restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions.”
The city has plenty to interest residents of all ages. “An excellent family atmosphere is complimented by a decent crime rate, a stellar selection of top-notch school, a strong property market, a friendly community, and a clutch of first rates parks and trails,” claims Money Inc.
And for the adults, “Overland Park is overflowing with breweries and Boulevard Brewing Company, Brew Lab, and Cinder Block Brewery are all great options to stop and smell the hops,” ExtraSpace adds.
4. Columbia, Missouri
Home to the University of Missouri, Columbia is a college town with much to offer. “Columbia’s reputation for progressive politics and journalism, extensive city-wide recycling programs, and funky local businesses make it ‘cooler’ than the average city in Missouri,” says ExtraSpace. “CoMo (as it’s known by locals) is one of the best small cities for aging and retirement, and it’s a great college town with universities like Columbia College, Stephens College, and Mizzou.”
Columbia’s small size makes it a commuter’s dream. “Columbia’s weekly commute of two hours and 58 minutes is the 18th-shortest among all US metro areas and the ninth-shortest among metro areas in the Midwest,” Business Insider states.
But don’t let its size fool you! “It has ranked among the 50 best places to live in the United States by Travel and Leisure for its excellent museums, pleasant downtown, and many job opportunities,” says Haven Lifestyles.
5. Naperville, Illinois
Located less than an hour from Chicago, Naperville is a great place to live in its own right. “Naperville, IL is one of the safest cities in the US,” claims Money Inc. “Combine that little fact with the affordable property values, the safe, friendly neighborhoods, the great parks, and array of sporting and cultural events on offer, and it’s understandable why so many home buyers are falling over themselves to move in.”
When it’s time to have some fun, Naperville residents have no shortage of options for dining and entertainment. “Naperville is home to Wentz Concert Hall, a specialized auditorium that’s tuned with sound-absorbing curtains and has hosted musicians from Colbie Caillat to Yo-Yo Ma,” says ExtraSpace. “Get your dance (and drinks) on at Frankie’s Blue Room or grab an overstuffed pastrami sandwich at Schmaltz Delicatessen.”
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