The best US small towns for expats

Are you dreaming of a life in the United States without the hustle and bustle of the big cities? Then you've come to the right place! We'll show you the most charming US small towns to emigrate to!

Small town impressions from the USA

These American small towns offer a great quality of life!

Each of the small towns we have selected has a welcoming charm and offers you a high quality of life surrounded by the breathtaking nature of the United States.

But our list of the best US small towns isn't just about beauty: we also give you an overview of the biggest local employers and job opportunities and show you what makes residents tick.


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Are you ready for your new life in the USA? Then, look forward to lots of small-town charm and coziness! Enjoy our US small-town ranking!

1. Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend is a gem on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula overlooking the beautiful Puget Sound. Its proximity to Seattle (about a 2-hour drive) makes this small US town an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.

The skyline of Port Townsend

What sets Port Townsend apart is an unmistakable sense of community. People here are friendly, relaxed, and genuinely care about each other. You'll often talk with strangers at the local farmer's market or in the cozy cafes along Water Street. Here, people know each other by their first names and are always willing to help.

Life in Port Townsend has a different pace that runs harmoniously with the changing tides. The city is also known for its Victorian architecture, which gives the streets an old charm.

From the iconic bell tower over the city hall to the colorful storefronts, there is something beautiful to discover around every corner. And, of course, we can't forget the outdoors: Olympic National Park, beaches, and lush forests offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Working in Port Townsend reflects the artistic and creative spirit of the city. There is a vibrant art scene with galleries, and many residents are artists, writers, musicians, and craftspeople. So, if you're someone who's driven by creative energy or wants to explore new artistic avenues, you'll be in good company.

While life here is very laid back, the job market can be quite competitive due to the size of the town. But don't let that deter you - many residents have found ways to make a living by combining their passions with their work. It could be running a local bakery, offering outdoor tours, or opening a small business.

Port Townsend is a place where you can build meaningful relationships, explore your creative side, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. If you're someone who values community, loves the arts and outdoors, and wants to experience life at a different pace, you may find your perfect home here.

Port Townsend: Facts
US State: Washington
Inhabitants: ~10,300
Top Employer: Port Townsend Paper, Crown Paper Group, Olympic Community Action Program, PT Holdings Company, Centrum Arts & Creative, Coldwell Banker Best Homes, Starboard Tech, Copper Canyon Press
Nearest major city: Seattle
Visit Port Townsend:

Find your Hotel in Port Townsend here

2. Taos, New Mexico

Taos is rich in Native American and Spanish culture. The mystical US small town has long been a haven for artists and writers. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains watch over the town, and the sunsets against the backdrop of the desert are simply magical.

A sunny day in Taos

Living in Taos is like stepping into another world. The people here are a unique mix of free spirits, outdoor enthusiasts, and people who just want to do their own thing. The community is open-minded, and new people are welcome. Individuality is celebrated here, and there is a tacit understanding that everyone can be who they are.

The hustle and bustle of the city has no meaning in Taos. Instead, you'll find a rhythm more in tune with nature. You'll often see neighbors helping each other, whether it's building an adobe wall or sharing tips on growing vegetables.

Working in Taos may be a little different from what you're used to. Traditional jobs are available, but many people are forging their paths. Artists find inspiration here, local markets and festivals celebrate handmade art, and the creative spirit is everywhere.

Living in Taos means adapting to the challenges of a smaller community. There aren't as many amenities and services as in big cities, which can be an adjustment.

If you're looking for a place where time moves a little slower, people are colorful, and every day seems like a gift, Taos may be the place for you.

Taos: Facts
US State: New Mexico
Inhabitants: ~6,500
Top Employer: Taos Pueblo, Taos County, Holy Cross Hospital, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Taos School District
Nearest major city: Santa Fe
Visit Taos:

Hotels in Taos you will find here

3. Stowe, Vermont

The cute little town of Stowe is located in the Green Mountains of Vermont and is a typical small New England town. Stowe is a popular ski resort in winter and offers wonderful hiking trails in summer.

Country house in Stowe

As soon as you arrive, you'll be enchanted by the environment that accompanies you in Stowe throughout the year in a variety of colors and shapes. Whether it's the vibrant fall foliage, the tranquil winter wonderland of snow, or the lush greenery of summer, you'll be struck by the beauty of Stowe's changing seasons.

But it's not just the scenery that makes Stowe special - it's the people. The community is close-knit and friendly. Whether it's helping each other through a fierce winter storm or gathering at local events, even a newcomer will quickly feel like part of the Stowe family.

When it comes to working, Stowe offers a great balance between being close to nature and job opportunities. The town has a wide variety of shops, from cute boutiques to cozy cafes, and there's an emphasis on supporting local artists and producers.

Tourism is also a big part of the economy, especially with the world-famous Stowe Mountain Resort. This means seasonal jobs related to skiing and other outdoor activities - a great way to connect with both residents and visitors.

Stowe has a down-to-earth attitude about life. People here appreciate the little things, like an early morning hike or a cozy evening by the fireplace. Of course, Stowe has its challenges: Winters can be harsh, and it can get pretty crowded during the tourist season.

Stowe: Facts
US State: Vermont
Inhabitants:: ~5,200
Top Employer: Stowe Mountain Resort, Town of Stowe, Stowe Country Club, Inntopia, Stowe Land Trust
Nearest major city: Burlington
Visit Stowe:

Hotels in Stowe you find here

4. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a hidden gem in California with fairytale homes and an enchanting coastline. The small US town is known for its artistic community and beautiful beaches.

The beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea

As you stroll through the cobblestone streets lined with charming homes and flowering gardens, you'll feel like you're in a storybook. The beauty that surrounds you here inspires and soothes the soul.

Life in Carmel-by-the-Sea is decelerated, and that's intentional. People here appreciate the moment, taking time to connect with each other and enjoy the world around them. You'll find a strong sense of community, with neighbors greeting each other with genuine smiles.

You can also participate in numerous local events, ranging from art exhibitions to outdoor concerts. The cultural scene is lively, with numerous galleries and studios.

In Carmel, you'll find the right work-life balance. Many stores have a boutique style that reflects the character of the city and appeals to the discerning tastes of residents and visitors.

Whether you're opening a cozy coffee shop, running an art gallery, or providing services to the community, you'll find that people value quality and authenticity.

People understand that life is meant to be enjoyed. A walk on the beach at sunset, a picnic in a picturesque park, or a leisurely stroll through the many charming stores along Ocean Avenue - here you can really enjoy yourself.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Facts
US State: California
Inhabitants: ~3,200
Top Employer: Pebble Beach Company, City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Repertory Theatre, Ocean Avenue Association
Nearest major city: Monterey
Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea:

Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea you can find here

5. Sedona, Arizona

Sedona in the US state of Arizona is known for its red rock formations and a pervasive spiritual atmosphere. The city is a center for outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and people seeking healing and wellness.

Sedona aerial view

The people of Sedona are special. You'll find a mix of free spirits, nature lovers, and spiritual seekers. Everyone is friendly and open, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

It is often said that Sedona's energy is rejuvenating and attracts people seeking a deeper connection with nature. Whether you're meditating, practicing yoga, or just exploring the area, a sense of tranquility permeates everyday life, and the red rock formations emanate an almost surreal light.

Working life in Sedona is a mix of creativity and relaxation. Many people here are involved in the arts and crafts - from painting and sculpting to jewelry design and photography.

In addition, numerous small businesses cater to both residents and tourists, adding to the city's unique charm. The pace of life is generally more leisurely, with a good work-life balance.

Sedona is a paradise, but sometimes a challenge. The cost of living can be higher than in other areas, and you can expect competition in the job market, depending on your career choice.

Sedona: Facts
US State: Arizona
Inhabitants: ~9,800
Top Employer: Enchantment Resort, Sedona-Oak Creek School District, City of Sedona, Yavapai College, Walgreens
Nearest major city: Phoenix
Visit Sedona:

Hotels in Sedona you find here

6. Bar Harbor, Maine

Imagine yourself in an idyllic American coastal town, surrounded by rugged beauty and the charm of a tight-knit community! Bar Harbor, Maine, has it all!

The port of Bar Harbor

You'll find the people of Bar Harbor to be some of the warmest and friendliest you'll ever meet. The sense of community is strong and residents are known for their genuine friendliness. Here, neighbors become friends, and newcomers are welcomed with open arms.

We're here on Mount Desert Island, right next to Acadia National Park, and the incredible scenery and views are practically at our doorstep. Bar Harbor is also a town with a rich history and a strong sense of culture.

The downtown area is a year-round arts hub with galleries, theaters, and music festivals. Residents take pride in preserving their cultural heritage, and you will see many beautifully preserved historic buildings and landmarks.

Bar Harbor's job market offers a variety of employment opportunities, especially in the tourism, hospitality, and research sectors. The Jackson Laboratory, a renowned biomedical research facility, is located here and is a major contributor to the local economy.

While it's true that the cost of living here is a bit higher, the quality of life and sense of belonging you'll experience makes up for it.

Bar Harbor: Facts
US State: Maine
Inhabitants: ~5,600
Top Employer: Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, College of the Atlantic, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory
Nearest major city: Bangor
Visit Bar Harbor:

Hotels in Bar Harbor you find here

7. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island is a popular getaway in Lake Huron in the US state of Michigan. The car-free island is known for its historic architecture, cute fudge stores, and historic horse-drawn carriages.

The port of Mackinac Island in Michigan

We can't stress enough how wonderful it is to call this place home. The people of Mackinac Island are a tight-knit community because the small size of the island fosters a real sense of belonging. Everyone knows everyone, and you will quickly become part of this warm and welcoming family.

Cars are a rarity here. Instead, residents rely on bicycles and horse-drawn carriages to get around. The absence of motorized vehicles provides a sense of tranquility and security that is hard to find elsewhere.

Work on the island reflects this unique lifestyle. Many people work in the hospitality industry, running quaint inns, charming bed & breakfasts, and delicious restaurants.

Mackinac Island's natural beauty is unparalleled. A vibrant coastline, lush forests, and blooming gardens provide a backdrop each day that will fill you with awe and gratitude.

Whether you're selling fudge in one of the island's famous shops, driving a carriage, or tending a garden, your work will be dominated by a sense of connection to this remarkable place.

When you're not working, you'll have countless opportunities to explore the island's hiking trails, swim in its crystal-clear waters, or just relax in a rocking chair on your front porch and watch the world go by.

Mackinac Island: Facts
US State: Michigan
Inhabitants: ~500
Top Employer: Mackinac Island Public School, Grand Hotel, Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, Star Line Ferry
Nearest major city: Detroit
Visit Mackinac Island:

Hotels in Mackinac Island you can find here

8. Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson in the US state of Wyoming is located near the legendary Grand Tetons and is surrounded by pristine nature! The western town offers outdoor adventures, many art galleries, and a lively cowboy culture.

Western scenery in Jackson, Wyoming

Ye-haaaw! Jackson is known not only for its cowboys but also for its scenery. The majestic Teton Mountains dominate the skyline in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Daily life is filled with opportunities for adventure: skiing, hiking, mountain biking, or simply enjoying the pristine wilderness. The outdoor lifestyle here is not just a hobby but a way of life. Residents are passionate about the outdoors and preserving it for future generations.

The Jackson community is tight-knit and welcoming. Even though it is a small town, people come from all walks of life. You'll find that people take a genuine interest in getting to know their new neighbors.

Job opportunities in Jackson vary by field, and entrepreneurship is especially in demand here. Many residents have found innovative ways to turn their passions into successful businesses, whether in the trades or in the service sector.

Expect a slower pace of life and the occasional small-town challenges, but rest assured you will find a welcoming and supportive community.

Jackson: Facts
US State: Wyoming
Inhabitants: ~10,800
Top Employer: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, St. John's Health, Teton County School District, Snow King Mountain Resort
Nearest major city: Salt Lake City
Visit Jackson:

Hotels in Jackson you find here

9. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is a charming town in the Rocky Mountains. Known for world-class ski resorts and outdoor activities, the small US town offers a great year-round atmosphere.

House facades of Breckenridge, Colorado

Nature is an integral part of daily life at Breckenridge. Waking up to majestic peaks and breathing in the fresh mountain air is a privilege that residents don't take for granted.

But what really sets Breckenridge apart is its sense of community. The people here are warm, friendly, and incredibly welcoming. Whether it's at one of the local cafes, a community event, or a nice chat on the trails, you'll always find a smile and a sense of camaraderie.

There's always something going on in Breckenridge, from farmers' markets to concerts and outdoor festivals, where you can immerse yourself in the culture of our mountain town.

When it comes to work, the city offers many career opportunities: tourism and recreation top the job boards, of course, but you're just as likely to find work in technology, health care, and education. Breckenridge's residents work hard, but we also understand the importance of taking breaks to recharge and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Of course, living in a place of such natural beauty comes with its challenges, such as adjusting to mountain weather and occasional traffic during peak tourist season. But the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

Breckenridge: Facts
US State: Colorado
Inhabitants: ~5,100
Top Employer: Vail Resorts, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge Distillery, Town of Breckenridge
Nearest major city: Denver
Visit Breckenridge:

Hotels in Breckenridge you find here

10. Nantucket, Massachusetts

The charming US small-town island of Nantucket off the coast of Cape Cod is known for its beautiful beaches, cobblestone streets, and maritime history.

Fishing boats off Nantucket

Whether you live on Nantucket year-round or just for a short time, you'll find that you are immediately integrated into island life. Nantucket is a friendly place where people look out for each other.

Many jobs on Nantucket are related to the thriving tourism industry, which is understandable given the island's beautiful beaches, historic charm, and cultural attractions.

Islanders are proud of their rich history and architecture. Walking through the cobblestone streets lined with historic homes is like stepping back in time.

If you work in the hospitality industry, you'll be busy during the summer months, when visitors flock to the island. It's a hectic and fun time of year to meet people from all over the world.

But don't think Nantucket is all work and no play! Throughout the year, there are many festivals and events, such as the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival, the Daffodil Festival, and the Christmas Stroll.

Living on Nantucket also means settling into a slower pace during the off-season. It's quieter in the winter, and that's when you can sit in quaint cafés, read a book, or curl up by the fire with friends.

Nantucket: Facts
US State: Massachusetts
Inhabitants: ~11,300
Top Employer: Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Nantucket Island Resorts, Stop & Shop, White Elephant, The Chicken Box
Nearest major city: Boston
Visit Nantucket:

Hotels in Nantucket you find here

Living and working in the USA

If you're ready to embrace a different life where community matters, creativity flourishes, and nature beckons, one of these ten small towns in the US may be just the place you'll soon call home!

But your move to the USA needs to be well-planned! If you need a little help on your way to a new life in America, we have some great tips for you:

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Image sources

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

User: (WT-shared) Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons