From time to time, we all dream of making a fresh start. Whether it’s a lost job, the end of a relationship, a new year, or a new season in life, we long for the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start all over in a place with a new job and new friends. But, when you actually decide to make the move, where do you go? We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best cities to move to start a new life based on the cost of living, job market, housing costs and quality of life. These cities range from mid-size to large metro areas, giving you a variety of options, all with slightly different opportunities and lifestyles. In no particular order, here are our top 10 picks.
Anyone looking for a fresh start will find a kindred spirit in Pittsburgh itself. Once the epicenter of the steel industry, it’s now a hub for robotics, autonomous vehicles, information technology, life sciences technology (medical devices and health services), advanced manufacturing and other technologies. While the unemployment rate is currently 6.6 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, anyone in the technology field should have no problem finding a job.
The cost of living in Pittsburg makes it even more attractive. With a score of 93—7 percent below the national average, according to Area Vibes—it’s very affordable, especially if you want to buy your own house. Not only is it a buyer’s market in Pittsburgh, but homes are listed at a very reasonable $162 per square foot.
Median listing home price: $237,500
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Spanning roughly 9,200 square miles, Dallas-Fort Worth offers boundless opportunities for those looking to start over in a new career. The area boasts more than 20 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, AT&T, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments. Plus, several major companies such as 7-Eleven, Frito-Lay, Topgolf, Pizza Hut, Six Flags and Match.com have corporate headquarters in the region.
The cost of living is 98 percent of the national average, according to Area Vibes, making the region very affordable compared to other major metropolitan areas. While you should have a relatively easy time finding a job, you’ll have to act fast when it comes to housing. Prices continue to rise, and Dallas-Fort Worth remains a sellers’ market.
Population: 7,573,136 (for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex)
Median listing home price: $449,200
Salt Lake City, Utah
Families looking for a fresh start should consider Salt Lake City. The city tends to be more family-friendly than most others. Plus, it’s a short drive from the city to hiking destinations in the summer, ski resorts in the winter and national parks like Bryce Canyon and Zion throughout the year.
Although the cost of living is slightly high—7 percent above the national average, according to Area Vibes—the unemployment rate is a mere 2.8 percent. That’s well below the national unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. Better yet, many of the jobs you’ll find in the area are high-paying tech jobs. Nearly 100 tech companies have a downtown Salt Lake City address, and nearby Provo has emerged as one of the nation’s newest tech hubs, earning it the nickname “the Silicon Slopes.”
Median listing home price: $499,900
The largest city in Florida, Jacksonville is ideal for active singles. You can take advantage of the city’s 22 miles of beaches and the largest urban park system in the nation. Or, you can indulge in the city’s vibrant arts scene featuring public art murals, arts districts and makers spaces. Jacksonville also boasts more than 20 craft breweries, Southern-inspired cooking and fish camps (fish shacks grilling the catch-of-the-day).
Depending on where you move from, your dollar will stretch further in Jacksonville, too. The city’s cost of living index is 91, putting it 9 percent below the national average according to Area Vibes. And, housing is reasonably priced at $160 per square foot. Jobs in automotive parts and accessories manufacturing, aviation and import-export operations are plentiful, and as a result, the unemployment rate sits at 4.5, well below the national average.
Median listing home price: $259,900
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Part of a metropolitan area that exceeds 1.4 million residents, Oklahoma City has an exceptionally low cost of living at 88 percent of the national average. You can purchase a home for just $130 per square foot, and groceries are nearly 10 percent less than what you’d pay on average elsewhere in the country. If you need a job, don’t worry. The unemployment rate is just 2.9 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Look for jobs in aviation, aerospace, bioscience, energy, insurance, telecommunications and payroll processing.
On the weekends, explore the new 40-acre Scissortail Park, check out the booming art scene and ride the rapids at Riversport. Trying to meet a new special someone? Oklahoma City has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife, too.
Median listing home price: $238,300
What’s not to love about Cleveland? It has one of the most affordable housing markets in the nation with homes listed at an average of just $69 per square foot. Cleveland also has a significantly low cost of living at 84 percent of the national average, according to Area Vibes. It goes without saying, if you are recovering from a financial setback, Cleveland may be one of the best places to rebound.
If you need a new job, the city has robust healthcare, advanced materials and manufacturing, food industry, information technology and financial services sectors. After work, catch a concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a Browns, Cavaliers or Indians (soon to be Guardians in 2022) game.
Median listing home price: $115,000
If a fresh start means getting some fresh air, Denver may just be the place for you. The city ranks as the eighth healthiest city in the nation, based, in part, on personal health. More than 200 parks in the city and 14,000 acres of parks in nearby mountain ranges offer ample opportunities for hiking, biking and recreating. After your workout, head to downtown Denver. Within a 1-mile radius, you’ll find three professional sports stadiums, the country’s second-largest performing arts complex, top-rated art and history museums and more.
Unfortunately, the quality of life comes at a cost. Denver’s cost of living is 16 percent higher than the national average, and you’ll pay a lot more for a house. The median price per square foot is $342. While the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, the city does have high-paying jobs in aerospace, defense, biotech, healthcare, finance, mining, and energy.
Median listing home price: $540,000
One of the best cities for music lovers to start over, Nashville is also one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, thanks to its affordability and low unemployment rate. According to AreaVibes, Nashville has an overall cost of living score of 96, which is 4 percent below the national average. Housing is still reasonably priced, too, especially now that the market has shifted in favor of buyers.
The city’s low unemployment rate of 3.7 percent bodes well for those looking for work. Employers like Nissan North America, Bridgestone Americas, Dollar General, HCA Healthcare, iHeartMedia, Mitsubishi Motors, The ICEE Company and Amazon all have headquarters in Nashville. Additionally, you’ll find work in industries such as healthcare, tourism and hospitality, music and entertainment, technology and manufacturing.
Median listing home price: $390,000
Boise is another good choice for those who want a more active lifestyle. The third most populous metro area in the Pacific Northwest (behind Seattle and Portland), the city has more than 180 miles of public trails for hiking, mountain biking and trail running, and you’re not far from world-class fishing, whitewater rafting and wineries.
Need another reason to love Boise? It has a low unemployment rate of 3 percent, and a cost of living on par with the national average. Techies can find jobs at companies like Microsoft and Mark Monitor, but Boise also has a strong advanced manufacturing, food production, energy and outdoor recreation industries. If there’s a downside, it’s housing. Expect prices to average $295 per square foot, according to Realtor.com, and rent to average $1,679 per month.
Median listing home price: $515,000
If you’re looking to grow with a new city, consider Billings for a fresh start. The largest city in Montana, Billings still maintains a small-town feel. It is close to the Yellowstone River and some of the nation’s best fishing and hunting. It has an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, putting it well below the national average, and a relatively inexpensive housing market at $143 per square foot. The cost of living is just below the national average, too, at 99 percent, according to Area Vibes.
Billings is ideal for those who can work remotely. However, if you need a traditional job, you’ll likely find it in the energy, food production and tourism sectors.
Median listing home price: $299,900
Ready for a fresh start?
For more information about the best cities to move to start a new life listed above, check Moving.com’s City Profile Report feature. Simply enter the zip code or the state and city of your potential move to get a free report. The report will contain city demographics, real estate information, quality of life factors, and more. For help finding the best moving company, check Moving.com’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers. And, if you’re wondering about how you’d move your car for this fresh start, check out our guide on how to transport a car to another state.
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