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Don't Want to Give Up Big-City Life? Check Out These 8 Up-and-Coming Small Cities Close to Major Metros

Ready for a slower pace and more space but still want to enjoy the perks of a big city? These small cities offer the best of both worlds.

By: Brittany Anas, On Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 11:15

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many people to re-examine their living situations. Amid shutdowns, for instance, having easy access to open space — or a backyard at the very least — emerged as a new priority for many. Meanwhile, the economic turmoil accompanying the pandemic gave city-dwellers reason to question whether it’s really worth paying a premium to live in a big, crowded metropolis.

Now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one-third of Americans are considering moving to a less densely populated area, according to a Harris Poll survey. In addition, a national survey by Ipsos found that 42% of people have either moved or thought about moving since March, and rural areas, small and mid-size cities were their top choices.

Becoming a suburbanite, or transitioning to small-town living, doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon life as an urbanite, though. Some of the country’s best small and mid-sized towns are within close proximity of major metropolises. That means you can enjoy the wide open spaces and quaint downtowns, but still zip into the big city for amenities and attractions (when they re-open, of course) like pro sports, malls, museums and amusement parks.

Ahead, seven great small-to-midsize towns that are close to big cities — so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

1. Castle Rock, Colorado (population, 64,827)

Proximity to Denver, CO: 30 miles

A southern suburb of Denver, residents in Castle Rock enjoy wide open spaces (5,475 acres of it, to be exact) with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains serving up a glorious backdrop. Plus, the city sets itself apart with ultra unique amenities like “Challenge Hill,” an outdoor, 200-step incline (think: a stair stepper, but make it scenic), golf courses galore, horseback riding trails and a growing craft brewery scene. A straight shot north on I-25 takes you to Denver, where you’ll find restaurants captained by James Beard Award-winning chefs, more breweries, world-class museums, pro sports teams and funky dive bars dotting Colfax and Broadway.

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Here is the rest of the Up-and-Coming Small Cities List:

2. Ann Arbor, Michigan (population, 113,998)
Proximity to Detroit, MI: 45 miles

3. Santa Fe, New Mexico (population 84,612)
Proximity to Albuquerque, NM: 65 miles

4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (population: 7,633)
Proximity to Baltimore, MD: 50 miles; proximity to Washington, D.C.: 80 miles; proximity to Philadelphia, PA: 110 miles

5. Asheville, North Carolina (population: 92,452)
Proximity to Charlotte, NC: 120 miles

6. Hamilton, Ohio (population: 62,359) 
Proximity to Cincinnati, OH: 17 miles; Proximity to Dayton, OH: 32 miles

7. Franklin, Tennessee
Proximity to Nashville, TN: 21 miles

8. Hood River, Oregon (population: 7,806)
Proximity to Portland, OR: 60 miles

Want to learn more about Castle Rock, Colorado?  Check out this video!

About the Castle Rock Chamber:

Founded in 1955, the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce has been the leading champion of entrepreneurial and economic prosperity for over 60 years.  We started with a simple but very important objective to support and promote local businesses, and that straight forward mission still drives everything we do more than half a century later.  The Chamber has a long history of championing initiatives that make Castle Rock and Douglas County great.

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