According to a 2020 Gallup survey, almost one in two Americans (48%, to be exact) prefer to live in a town or rural area – up from 39% in 2018. And while 27% still say that they want to live in a city, almost two-thirds of that group (16%) prefer a small city to a big one.
Armed with this information, financial technology company SmartAsset compared almost 300 cities with populations between 65,000 and 100,000 to identify and rank the nation’s most livable small cities for 2021 – and the winner is … O’Fallon, Missouri.
To develop its list, the company analyzed data from 291 cities across the following metrics: concentration of entertainment establishments, restaurants, bars and healthcare establishments, Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality), home affordability, housing costs as a percentage of median income, percentage of residents below the poverty line, unemployment rate percentage of residents without health insurance and average commute time.
The Midwest ranked high among those surveyed with eight of the top 10 cities being located in midwestern states. In fact, coming in at No. 7 was the city of St. Charles.
According to Smart Asset, here’s how O’Fallon faired in specific survey categories: The city ranked 11th for low income inequality, with a Gini coefficient of 0.36. It ranked 30th for its relatively low proportion of residents living below the poverty line, at 4.0%. Median housing costs equal just 16.93% of median household income in O’Fallon, ranking 19th for that metric in the study overall.
Smart Asset assessed St. Charles as having median housing costs amounting to 16.33% of median household income, ranking 15th in the study. Additionally, St. Charles has the 39th-highest concentration of healthcare establishments at the county level (13.44%) and the 55th-lowest, as of December 2020, unemployment rate (4.7%) – both top quintile rankings.