My top five favorites based on climate and access to the great outdoors:
#37 – SANTA CRUZ, CA
#31 – JOHNSON CITY, TN
#20 – LOGAN, UT
#15 – CARBONDALE, IL
Home of the main campus of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale is located less than a hundred miles southeast of St. Louis on the northern edge of Shawnee National Forest. The 13 other parks in Carbondale include the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Little Grand Canyon, and the Trail of Tears State Park, which provide recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The university presence also adds a rich cultural element to the town, presenting many avenues for artistic, musical, and theatrical expression. Carbondale is also an affordable place to live, with a cost of living index that is 11% lower than the state average and 12.2% lower than the national average.
Colleges: Southern Illinois University
#6 – DAVIS, CA
The city of Davis is located in the Central Valley of northern California in Yolo County, just over ten miles from the big city of Sacramento. Davis has been recognized as one of “America’s Best Biking Cities” and is home to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame. Its progressive community is also known for its environmental programs and its energy conservation measures. A rich cultural hub, Davis houses over two dozen art galleries as well as a revived performing arts center. Its dedication to art can be seen through the over $200,000 worth of public art showcased throughout the city. Although its cost of living is significantly higher than most other cities on our list, those who can afford to live here will enjoy the liveliness of a big city, but in a much safer, much friendlier environment.
Colleges: University of California, Davis