The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2021

The story of the state (technically Commonwealth) of Pennsylvania has three parts: the eastern metropolis of Philadelphia, the Midwest river city of Pittsburgh and the vast land in-between with a slew of mid-sized historic and revitalized northeastern cities.

But from the Delaware Valley to the Lehigh Valley, the Ohio River Valley to the Wyoming Valley, there are innumerable places to call home, whether in Wawa country or Sheetz land. Here is our list of the 10 best places to live in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA.

  • Population: 120,139
  • Average age: 38.36
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Average commute time: 29.03 minutes
  • Walk score: 59
  • Studio average rent: $1,379
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,395
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,599

The Allentown of today is nowhere near the hulking coal and refinery town Billy Joel sang about. But while the factories did shut down long ago, you still can’t keep a good man down. Allentown is one of only three cities in Pennsylvania with a population of over 100,000. Equidistant from Philadelphia and Scranton, Allentown is a big city with a lot more to offer than many realize.

The westernmost of the Lehigh Valley’s tri-cities, Allentown is a story of reinvention. When manufacturing disappeared, Allentown had to revitalize itself for modern-day living. As a result, the city’s downtown received honors from the Urban Land Institute as a “national success story” for its transformation.

As a rebuilt service economy, many companies call Allentown headquarters, including several in the energy industry. While downtown is rife with office buildings and corporate campuses, retail is more found around Allentown’s several large shopping malls in and near the city.

However, sports, always a big deal in the Lehigh Valley, are drivers in changing that. The areas around its popular minor league venues are becoming shopping, nightlife and dining hubs. Hockey’s Phantoms, top minor league affiliate for the Flyers, play downtown at the seven-year-old PPL Center and baseball’s IronPigs, a Phillies farm club, take the field at Coca-Cola Park across the river on Allentown’s East Side.

Bethlehem, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 75,236
  • Average age: 42.01
  • Median household income: $55,809
  • Average commute time: 29.29 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,182
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,391

Much as its neighbor to the west had to do, the steel city of Bethlehem also found itself having to reinvent. Now, Bethlehem is the arts and entertainment hub of Lehigh Valley.

A case in point is the iconic Bethlehem Steel. The former world’s largest steel company operated in the city for nearly 150 years, from 1857 to 2003. Today, the site of the former mill is now home to cultural works the size of Disneyland.

The vast SteelStacks district consists of the ArtsQuest performing arts center and three outdoor music venues including Levitt Pavilion, a PBS station and the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino. The massive blast furnace structure still stands serving as a backdrop along the river.

Over the last two decades, Bethlehem’s downtown has started to thrive with restaurants and retail along Main and Broad Streets. And on the south side of town, the region just north of Lehigh University is a vibrant college town district with bars, shops and cafés.

Along the riverfront is a park complex that includes athletic facilities and hiking and biking trails.

While about half the size of Allentown, Bethlehem has a higher median income than its next-door neighbor by about $15,000. However, rents across the board are cheaper in Bethlehem making it a bit better value for renters.

Harrisburg, PA.

  • Population: 49,277
  • Average age: 37.69
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Average commute time: 25.17 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $837
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,038
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,272

State capitals often make wonderful places to live and work. The swath of legislators and lobbyists that call them home make sure the economy is sound, infrastructure is top-notch and access to entertainment and culture abound. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, is no exception. The city of 50,000 is in south-central Pennsylvania about half as close to Philadelphia as it is to Pittsburgh.

The State Capitol complex sits in the center of downtown, along the Susquehanna River. State and federal combined, nearly 40,000 government employees work in Harrisburg. With politicians and their staff coming and going each electoral season, the rental industry is key in Harrisburg. Luckily, it’s the cheapest big city in the Keystone State for studio apartments and one-bedrooms, and among the lowest for two- and three-bedroom units.

A great place to have kids, Forbes named Harrisburg one of the top 10 “Best Places to Raise a Family” in the nation. There is much to do for residents of all ages. Its downtown, once rich in jazz clubs and cocktail bars, is seeing a revitalization from nightclubs to the performing arts.

For a different diversion, the city is also home to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest agricultural expo in America.

Harrisburg also benefits from its geography as the center of one of Pennsylvania’s top tourist regions. The Capitol Building is just a half-hour from HersheyPark and Hershey Chocolate World and under an hour to Lancaster and the heart of Amish Country.

Lancaster, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 59,168
  • Average age: 38.10
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Average commute time: 26.23 minutes
  • Walk score: 56
  • Studio average rent: $887
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,097
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,344

While a wonderful lifestyle to visit and experience, Lancaster is more than Amish Country, horse buggies and shoofly pie. An affordable city of 60,000, Lancaster (pronounced “LANK-is-ter”, not “LAN-cast-er”) is an Eastern Pennsylvania healthcare, manufacturing and tourism hub.

Lancaster is a surprisingly diverse city. Sure, there are a ton of residents of German ancestry, home of the Pennsylvania Dutch (as in “Deutsch,” German for “German”). But the city is also nearly 40 percent Latinx and 16 percent Black.

While average incomes hover around $56,000, lease prices are among the lowest in the Commonwealth. In fact, a three-bedroom unit rents for $1,455, the cheapest among Pennsylvania’s largest cities.

Along with Amish tourism, Lancaster is also a mecca for outlet shopping. Combined, the area’s two large outlet centers offer nearly 200 stores.

The historic downtown is awash in quaint boutiques, vintage stores, art galleries (many along Gallery Row), vegan restaurants and German beer bars. In the heart of downtown is legendary music venue the Chameleon Club as well as Lancaster Central Market on Penn Square, one of the nation’s oldest farmers’ markets.

Philadelphia, PA.

  • Population: 1,569,672
  • Average age: 40.63
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Average commute time: 40.79 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,673
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,145
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,901

There are two Philadelphias. The one most people know is the Birthplace of America, home of the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Steps, cheesesteaks and the Broad Street Bullies. The other is the city that over a million and a half people call home. And real Philadelphians have an appreciation for both.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and each has a personality all its own. When someone reveals they are from Overbrook, Fishtown, Kensington, Society Hill or another of Philly’s nearly 200 neighborhoods, it says a lot about their personality. But together they are all SEPTA riders and hoagie eaters and Birds fans.

Philly residents are a lucky bunch. The cradle of American democracy is at their doorsteps. But it is also an extremely livable city. There are some of the nation’s largest and most enjoyable parks and green spaces, including Fairmount Park and Wissahickon Valley Park. Several shopping hubs dot the city from South Street and Liberty Place to Chestnut Hill and University City.

And commuting is easy with access to I-95, the Schuylkill Expressway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, three superregional rail stations, 13 regional rails as well as the Broad Street subway and Market-Frankford elevated train. As well, the city offers stellar walk and bike scores, 84 and 76, respectively.

Surprisingly, Philadelphia is affordable. As expected, rents are the highest among Pennsylvania’s big cities. However, Philly’s cost of living is 20 percent-30 percent cheaper than similar cities and its northeast corridor neighbors.

Pittsburgh, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 305,049
  • Average age: 41.68
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Average commute time: 28.93 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: $1,255
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,522
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,831

While they share space inside the Keystone State, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are a five-hour drive and a world apart. Pittsburgh is a Midwest city with a bit of East Coast ancestry. It’s the Northeast but also Great Lakes. It’s not your father’s smoggy city of Black and Gold. Today’s Pittsburgh is a modern, livable metropolis that traded in steel mills and coal mines for shiny office towers, a thriving tech industry, vast parks and big-city nightlife.

Sure, downtown Pittsburgh at Golden Triangle is a gleaming, teeming modern smog-free city. But even if you take the steel out of the city, you can’t take the steel out of its citizens. Pittsburgh will always be the city of fries on a sandwich, confluencing rivers and the Steel Curtain.

The people of the City of Three Rivers are as diverse as the neighborhoods in which they reside. Pittsburgh offers a plethora of cultural enclaves, with large populations of those with German, Irish, Polish, Italian, Black, Jewish, Lithuanian and Puerto Rican backgrounds.

And for its size and might, Pittsburgh is quite affordable. Although Pittsburgh technically lies within one of those pricey Northeastern states, rents in the Steel City are assuredly more Midwest. The average income in Pittsburgh is higher than that across the state in Philly. But rents are lower across the board, including a reasonable $1,500 a month for an average one-bedroom.

reading pa

  • Population: 88,302
  • Average age: 36.09
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Average commute time: 30.78 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,302
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,733

If it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, it’s good enough for you. Yes, that Taylor Swift. The super-slash singer/songwriter is not a native of Tennessee or Texas. She was proudly born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Maybe it’s the laid-back small city vibe that left an indelible mark on Ms. Swift. Reading is the fifth-largest city in the Commonwealth and sits just 90 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. But Reading feels much smaller, a tight-knit community of 90,000. It offers both urban convenience and Appalachian mountain town charm with a populous nearly 60 percent Hispanic and Latinx and 30 percent under age 18.

And Readingers have plenty of diversions. The wooded area surrounding Mount Penn includes many recreational activities and hiking trails. It is also the site of Reading’s most famous landmarks, William Penn Fire Tower, Peace Rock and the Pagoda, a century-old Japanese-style building that contains a café, gift shop and observation room overlooking the city.

Sports also loom large in Reading. The city has been home to the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate for over 50 years and Team Penske’s open-wheel race car operations for nearly as long.

scranton pa, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 76,624
  • Average age: 42.35
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Average commute time: 23.68 minutes
  • Walk score: 58
  • Studio average rent: $1,100
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,226
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,469

Alfredo’s Pizza Café. Froggy 101. Steamtown Mall. Anthracite Heritage Museum. Yes, all those references in The Office are actual, real-world places in Scranton. Dig deep enough and any Scrantonian will sheepishly admit that the depiction of the hard-scrabble former coal city in the show is pretty accurate.

The Electric City is the state’s seventh-largest, a working-class town just about two hours from both Philadelphia and New York. Like many Pennsylvania cities, Scranton leaned into revitalization as coal mines and steel plants closed.

Today, Scranton is booming in healthcare, technology, social services, finance and particularly tourism, leaning into both its unique railroad history and its proximity to top northeastern ski resorts.

Scranton’s revival helped its downtown boom. The pedestrian-friendly district has seen a bevy of new cafés, restaurants, shops and bars surrounded by loft apartments. Many of these are in restored, architecturally significant buildings that recently sat empty.

While many new residents are coming for the first time, the city has seen a large number of Scranton natives moving back from big cities. Cost of living is a big factor, but so is security. Among Pennsylvania’s largest cities, Scranton is the safest.

West Chester, PA.

  • Population: 19,698
  • Average age: 34.74
  • Median household income: $61,837
  • Average commute time: 27.91 minutes
  • Walk score: 54
  • Studio average rent: $1,350
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,598
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,995

Just 25 miles from Center City Philadelphia, the Philly suburb of West Chester is the smallest city on our list. It is also the wealthiest, with an average income of over $80,000. Fortunately, that high wage level hasn’t completely translated into high rent prices.

An average studio apartment leases for just $1,350, while one and two-bedroom units are $1,598 and $1,995, respectively.

West Chester, not far from Philly’s ritzy Main Line, offers a high quality of living. West Chester schools rank highest on our list while the average age, at just under 35, is the youngest. Though a suburb, the borough’s downtown offers much for its young and affluent residents.

In addition to several upscale and trendy bars, restaurants and retail, many businesses have set up shop in this vibrant hamlet. But West Chester’s most notable business? On the edge of town is the world headquarters and studios of the QVC shopping network. And on the south end of town is West Chester University, ranked a “Top 10 Public Regional Universities in the North” by U.S. News.

What else does West Chester offer these up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow? The borough has also been rated one of the “10 Most Exciting Places In Pennsylvania” and a top three “Great American Main Streets.”

York, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 44,055
  • Average age: 36.62
  • Median household income: $33,906
  • Average commute time: 27.97 minutes
  • Walk score: 53
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,160
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,256

Most cities in Pennsylvania orient themselves with their proximity to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. However, York residents find themselves just 15 miles from the Maryland border and 45 minutes from Baltimore.

The 16th largest city in the Commonwealth, York is best known as the first National Capital, in 1777. But iron-benders know it as headquarters of York Barbell and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, and chopper heads know it well for Harley-Davidson’s largest manufacturing plant.

Hungry for a snack? Stauffer’s animal crackers — made here for over 150 years — call York home. Also, it is the site of one of the four Starbucks roasting facilities in the whole world.

With deep roots in American Revolutionary history, tourism is important to the York economy.

For York residents, day trips abound. Lancaster and Amish Country are just a half-hour to the east. HersheyPark is only 45 minutes north. And the Gettysburg Battlefield is under an hour west. Working at the State Capitol? Harrisburg is only 30 minutes away.

Looking for something a little more pastoral in Central Pennsylvania? The historic York State Fair is the nation’s oldest, dating back to 1765.

Find your own best place to live in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania are also some of its most renowned cities. No matter your tastes, you can set up shop somewhere great from the corner metropolises to the coal towns to the suburbs. And you can find your next great Keystone State city right here on, whether you enjoy your Primanti’s covered in fries or your Jim’s bathed in whiz wit.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


The Best Places to Live in Colorado in 2021

Denver is already a well-known destination city for mountain lovers and city dwellers alike. But it isn’t the only place people are flocking to in Colorado.

Fresh mountain air, unparalleled scenery and friendly faces are abundant across The Centennial State. The best places to live in Colorado are distinct enough that, no matter what you’re looking for, you could find a place to call home.

Below is the list of the top ten best cities in Colorado:

Blue skies over Aurora, CO.

  • Population: 356,455
  • Average age: 38.9
  • Median household income: $65,100
  • Average commute time: 35.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,472
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,734

If you love Denver but hate the rent prices, you may not need to read any further down the list. No longer is Aurora Denver’s up-and-coming little sister; Aurora is here.

The so-called Gateway to the Rockies is less famed as a place to live, but it’s appealing in its own right. Aurora is the third most populous city in Colorado, but to locals, it’s an eastern suburb of Denver that no longer feels so suburban.

Don’t miss Cherry Creek State Park, an ideal spot for biking that offers some much-coveted shoreline in this landlocked state in the form of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

You’ll also find Stanley Marketplace, a dazzling new shopping and food mecca built into a formerly deserted airport facility.

Mountains in Boulder, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 105,115
  • Average age: 38.5
  • Median household income: $69,520
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 63
  • Studio average rent: $1,953
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,174
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,485

Boulder is about as picturesque of a college town as they come. Just 30 minutes northwest of Denver, this is the home of the University of Colorado and some of the best food you can find in the state.

It’s a tight-knit little community, and you’ll find excellent education, an abundance of arts and culture, an incredibly bikeable city layout and a surprising amount of traffic despite the low commute times.

The U.S. News & World Report recently named Boulder number one on its list of best places in America to live thanks to the gorgeous Chautauqua Mountain backdrop and focus on wellness. It’s also been called the happiest place to live by National Geographic.

The hippy state of mind has grown on a lot of people drawn to this hamlet. You can’t go wrong living in Boulder, as long as you can afford the high rent prices.

Downtown Colorado Springs.

  • Population: 445,686
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $64,712
  • Average commute time: 26.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 37
  • Studio average rent: $1,044
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,241
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,499

Even higher than the Mile High City, Colorado Springs sits at the base of Pikes Peak, and the mountain views are hard to escape here. Colorado Springs has plenty of city offerings but a slightly slower pace and lower price point than Denver.

Garden of the Gods Park remains startlingly attractive no matter how many times you visit. However, this city isn’t ideal for anyone who prefers to live somewhere that’s very walkable or bikeable; you will want a car to get from A to B.

Colorado Springs’ quirky next-door neighbor, Manitou Springs, is a fun weekend getaway full of mineral springs, advanced hiking trails and Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Plus, Denver is around an hour away if you aren’t traveling during peak traffic times.

Downtown Denver, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 677,202
  • Average age: 40.3
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 71
  • Studio average rent: $1,644
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,877
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,548

Denver is a renowned destination because it has just about everything — entertainment, nightlife, arts and culture to spare. The city consistently ranks as one of the best and healthiest places to live, and the quality of life here is bar-none. It also ranks as the most walkable city on this list.

Good-looking yet still humble, the Colorado capital boasts loads of outdoor activities within the city limits, but the day trips are impressive as well. Plus, it has all the major sports teams, competitive colleges, world-class museums and mountains for those who want to scale them or prefer to spectate.

Denver is a mecca for tech, healthcare and aerospace companies alike, which is a huge draw for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

This well-loved city is a bit pricey due to its popularity, so make sure you pick the neighborhood that ticks all your boxes.

Aerial view of Fort Collins, CO.

  • Population: 158,143
  • Average age: 37.9
  • Median household income: $65,866
  • Average commute time: 24.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 42
  • Studio average rent: $1,188
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,430
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,691

An hour north of Denver is another college town: Fort Collins.

This town has a more rural and Old West feel than Denver or Boulder, and it’s often called the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. While the views spotlight more foothills than in-your-face mountains, it is heavy on the western charm.

Ski resorts aren’t in close proximity, but Fort Collins is better suited for lacing up your boots and going for a horseback ride.

The Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most Instagrammable places, and the Cache la Poudre River Canyon isn’t far behind.

The city is a popular place for families and college students, where excellent schools and relatively quick commute times collide.

Grand Junction, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 60,402
  • Average age: 42.7
  • Median household income: $52,504
  • Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

On the western slope, you’ll find Grand Junction, a smaller city teeming with nearby wineries, hiking and biking trails and respite from the Denver crowds.

The city is home to the Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain.

This small town has mild winters, too, compared to the rest of Colorado. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, Powderhorn Mountain Resort is less than an hour away.

What it lacks in mountain views, it makes up for with competitive pricing and expansive outdoor recreation. Plan on much more affordable rent prices than the bigger cities, with jealousy-inspiring day trips to places like Moab, Ouray and Telluride.

Aerial over Lakewood, CO.

  • Population: 151,835
  • Average age: 43.7
  • Median household income: $66,740
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,453
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,750

Another idyllic suburb is Lakewood, just a few miles west of Denver. With popular concert venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the scenic town of Golden nearby, Lakewood offers a lot to love with quick access to Colorado’s capital.

Downtown Lakewood is home to Belmar, a quaint shopping and entertainment hub focusing on arts and kid-friendly appeal.

The Lakewood stop on the light rail will get you to Union Station in just under twenty minutes, making the commute tolerable.

The city is an ideal spot for families, affording a break in rental prices for the budget-conscious and ample outdoor activities for the kiddos.

Littleton, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 45,740
  • Average age: 45.4
  • Median household income: $76,015
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,707
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,174

Just south of Denver is Littleton, a cute suburb with tree-lined roads and unfettered mountain views that offers quiet parks and natural spaces.

The schools here are even more competitive than those in Denver or Lakewood, making this suburb a popular place for families. It’s also one of the safer cities in Colorado.

Hudson Gardens hosts summer concerts, beer festivals and countless outdoor weddings.

Plan on a bit of a commute if you are working in Denver, but the light rail stop in the heart of Littleton makes traffic less of a headache. Plus, the more affordable rent prices may make up for your time spent on the road.

Loveland, CO.

  • Population: 73,199
  • Average age: 44.7
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 38
  • Studio average rent: $1,250.95
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,487
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,818

Between Boulder and Fort Collins lies Loveland, a small town in northern Colorado.

Known as the Sweetheart City, Loveland is heavy on Valentine’s Day celebrations. They have an international Valentine’s re-mailing operation so that you can have your Valentine postmarked from this romantic city.

Though it’s a bit less fussy than its neighbors, Loveland has parks, quaint shops and views that tend to fall under the radar. The Loveland Fire and Ice Festival is a can’t-miss event for fans of music, fireworks and snow sculpture.

The city is an easy choice for someone who wants to live the Colorado lifestyle without paying the most devastating Colorado prices.

Pueblo, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 109,273
  • Average age: 43.0
  • Median household income: $40,450
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $695
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Pueblo brings a lot to the table, including a diverse community and a small-town feel. Not quite an hour south of Colorado Springs, the city provides an almost unbelievable combination of affordability and central Colorado location, ideal for large families.

Pueblo offers unparalleled access to fishing, boating and camping for those who love the great outdoors but don’t want to fend off the frenzied crowds.

If you prefer sunglasses to ski masks, Pueblo might be the perfect place for you, as it is one of the least snowy areas in Colorado.

The food and entertainment here are underrated, too. Enjoy the Pueblo Riverwalk, Lake Pueblo State Park and a plethora of family-run cafes.

Find your own best place to live in Colorado

Colorado is an attractive place to call home, whether you’re seeking all-season outdoor activities, big-city polish and amenities or a small mountain town with unpretentious people. If you’re ready to make the move, start here.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


The Best Places to Live in North Carolina in 2021

Wherever you choose to live in North Carolina, you will be within hours of both soaring mountaintops and sandy beaches.

The state of North Carolina offers examples of everything from aviation history and world-renowned universities to exceptional examples of traditional comfort foods found along the state’s barbeque trail. Both homey and contemporary, the state of North Carolina offers a little something for everyone.

Whether you are a first-time renter or an old hand at finding and securing a new place to live, you will want to consider making North Carolina your new home.

To help you find your own special spot, here are the best cities in North Carolina:

Aerial view of Asheville, NC.

  • Population: 88,933
  • Average age: 44.0
  • Median household income: $49,930
  • Average commute time: 21.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: $957
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,080
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,332

Asheville is one of the best places to live in North Carolina. Populated by trendy bars, various farm to fork restaurants and coffee shops that range from quirky to classy, young professionals will find the variety within this unique mountain town refreshing and appealing.

Located in Buncombe County, Asheville offers residents easy access to breathtaking views and myriad recreational opportunities. Those who enjoy outdoor adventure will find great hiking and lovely waterfalls in the surrounding area.

Individuals looking to relocate a family will like the highly-rated public schools and extended suburban feel of Asheville. The city offers a cozy and comfortable place to raise kids as well as ample recreation opportunities.

For those interested in adventure, the lovely Biltmore Estate and nearby Blue Ridge Parkway will provide hours of exploration.

Downtown view of Charlotte, NC.

  • Population: 827,630
  • Average age: 38.9
  • Median household income: $62,817
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 31
  • Studio average rent: $1,335
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,314
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,653

With its population of 827,630, Charlotte, located in growing Mecklenburg County, is one of the best places to live in North Carolina. Charlotte couples old-world southern charm with the excitement and energy of new cosmopolitan cities with much denser populations.

You will find a plethora of exceptional restaurants, an active nightlife and a thriving job market here.

Charlotte offers a collection of small neighborhoods for those seeking a community feel and provides an above-average public school system. The city’s mix of urban-suburban appeal will resonate with young professionals, growing families and retirees looking for a comfortable way of life.

Durham, NC at night.

  • Population: 255,801
  • Average age: 39.6
  • Median household income: $58,905
  • Average commute time: 27.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $1,320
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,263
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,524

This once-booming tobacco town has undergone revitalization and reinvented itself as one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. Durham lures young professionals with a combination of award-winning restaurants, high-tech job opportunities and cultural options often limited to much larger cities.

The city also offers various recreational opportunities and access to exceptional educational centers making it one of the best places to live in North Carolina.

Durham offers 22 miles of trails and is home to the 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens, making it an exceptional choice for those looking to enjoy greenspaces while living in a dynamic city.

Durham allows young families to enjoy a mild climate, excellent educational opportunities and a big city vibe with a community feel. These attractive opportunities are all wrapped up in a below-average cost of living.

Fayetteville, NC town square.

  • Population: 208,539
  • Average age: 37.9
  • Median household income: $45,024
  • Average commute time: 23.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 26
  • Studio average rent: $688
  • One-bedroom average rent: $781
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $920

Like many of the best places to live in North Carolina, those attracted to Fayetteville will appreciate that there are aspects of city convenience and country living sprinkled throughout this vibrant space.

The city offers its population of 208,539 easy access to beaches, mountains, a number of lakes and over 20 golf courses.

Located within an hour of the state capitol and home to one of the most active military installations in the country, Fort Bragg, Fayetteville offers a variety of employment opportunities for those starting out. Families and retirees will find the recreation offerings a bonus.

Those with a penchant for the outdoors will revel in the fact that the county surrounding the city of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, offers more than 540 acres of parkland for exploration and recreation.

Downtown Greensboro, NC.

  • Population: 285,444
  • Average age: 41.0
  • Median household income: $48,964
  • Average commute time: 25.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 34
  • Studio average rent: $683
  • One-bedroom average rent: $825
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $961

Despite its population of 285,444, Greensboro gives residents the feel of a tight suburban community, making it an exceptional place for young professionals and growing families. Known as one of the best places to live in North Carolina, Greensboro is home to various parks, entertainment and recreational opportunities.

Nicknamed “Gate City,” Greensboro offers above-average public schools and an active yet easy-going energy. Downtown houses a variety of art galleries, breweries, antique shops and bars.

Home to the Minor League’s Greensboro Grasshoppers and a frequent host to the Atlantic Coast Conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments, there is always something on the horizon.

Populated with five colleges, the city offers a distinctly youthful feel without the party atmosphere of many smaller university towns.

Aerial view of High Point, NC.

  • Population: 109,846
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $47,234
  • Average commute time: 24.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 25
  • Studio average rent: $950
  • One-bedroom average rent: $808
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $940

Less dense than many of its neighboring cities, High Point offers young professionals and families the opportunity to live in a suburban paradise. Historically known as the “Home Furnishing Capital of the World,” High Point is one of the best places to live in North Carolina, with above-average public schools and a mix of city and comfortable community feel.

High Point provides residents a superb basecamp with access to the larger surrounding cities and diverse day trips. It also boasts a diversified economy and highly affordable cost of living.

Centrally located between Greensboro and Winston-Salem, High Point offers several colleges and universities and recreational and entertainment options without the hustle and traffic that accompanies big city life.

Lake view in Mooresville, NC.

  • Population: 35,310
  • Average age: 39.7
  • Median household income: $69,188
  • Average commute time: 31.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 20
  • Studio average rent: $866
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,010
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,233

If you are looking for country living with convenience to some of the most dynamic cities in the state, Mooresville is your ideal space. Considered one of the best places to live in North Carolina, Mooresville offers a community feel with large town amenities.

Located in lovely Iredell County, Mooresville offers exceptional public schools and low crime rates. Mooresville allows families and young professionals to enjoy a slower pace of life than many of its larger neighbors.

Within easy reach of Raleigh, Durham and the Research Triangle Park, Mooresville gives residents easy access to some of the state’s most progressive job markets.

Downtown night view of Raleigh, NC.

  • Population: 446,152
  • Average age: 39.1
  • Median household income: $67,266
  • Average commute time: 28.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $1,264
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,201
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,440

Raleigh is not only the capital of North Carolina, a place known for its deep roots in education, technology and research, but it is also one of the best places to live in North Carolina. With a population of 446,152, Raleigh encompasses some of the best aspects of the state.

This area offers some of the finest educational and research institutions in the nation, a growing music and art scene and a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, breweries and bars. It’s also family-friendly with easy access to over 100 miles of greenway trails, museums and sports venues.

With the cost of living slightly below the national average and easy access to three major universities, Raleigh has seen exceptional growth in the past few years.

Wilmington, NC by the water.

  • Population: 115,441
  • Average age: 42.4
  • Median household income: $47,580
  • Average commute time: 22.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 37
  • Studio average rent: $822
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,072
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,253

The historic port city of Wilmington exudes an old-world charm that attracts both young professionals and growing families. With well above-average public schools and layers of local history, Wilmington is one of the best places to live in North Carolina.

Wilmington offers families an opportunity to revel in local history and recreational opportunities without giving up on character or community. You will find a 1.75-mile riverwalk located in Wilmington’s Historic District, which offers residents unique galleries, restaurants and shops. There are also excellent antiquing opportunities for those looking to add a little history into their personal space.

Young professionals find the city engaging due to its above-average nightlife and easy access to local beaches.

Aerial view of Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Population: 247,945
  • Average age: N/A
  • Median household income: $45,750
  • Average commute time: 20.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 28
  • Studio average rent: $673
  • One-bedroom average rent: $919
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,000

Located in Forsyth County, Winston-Salem is the second-largest city in the Piedmont Triad region of the state. Known as the “Twin City,” Winston-Salem is home to Wake Forest University and the Old Salem historic district.

With easy access to several larger cities, Winston-Salem offers residents the opportunity to live in a gracious suburban environment without missing out on career opportunities.

With an above-average public school system, Winston-Salem is ideal for raising a family and one of the best places to live in North Carolina. Winston-Salem’s dedication to history and fine arts makes for engaging family outings.

Young professionals will find the cultural opportunities and food culture add richness to life in this friendly, community-oriented city.

Find your own best place to live in North Carolina

Whether you are looking to relocate out of a sense of adventure or are looking for the perfect place to search for that new employment opportunity, you’re bound to find an ideal home among the best cities in North Carolina.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


How Can You Get Out of Debt with Bad Credit?

  • Get Out of Debt

As many as 8 out of 10 American adults have some form of debt and the vast majority are stuck in a persistent cycle of interest, penalty fees, and escalating APRs. It’s not always something they accumulated through careless abandon or something they acquired as a means of paying for a lifestyle they otherwise can’t afford. 

In fact, close to a quarter are using debt to pay for necessities like food and utilities. 

Many of these persistent debtors feel trapped. They’re making monthly payments they can barely afford, dealing with creditors that penalize them for every setback, and struggling with credit scores so low they have no hope of acquiring additional loans or credit cards, let alone a mortgage.

So, what should you do if you’re in this position? How can you clear your debt if you have bad credit?

Challenges to Getting out of Debt with Bad Credit

A good credit score makes a massive difference when it comes to escaping debt. You have creditors at your mercy, because they see you as a trustworthy, reliable borrower. You can refinance, consolidate, and generally reduce the size and scale of your debts by using your credit score as leverage.

If your credit score is poor, you can still acquire new credit cards and personal loans, but the interest will be so high and the fees so severe that you’ll become trapped in an endless cycle of escalating repayments and penalty fees. 

The Difference a Good Credit Score Can Make

Let’s forget about consolidation loans for a moment and focus purely on credit cards. If you have an exceptional credit score, there’s no reason why you can’t get a rewards card with an APR as low as 15%. On a balance of $10,000 and with a minimum monthly payment of $300, it will take you 44 months to clear this debt. In that time, you’ll pay $3,017 in interest.

If you have a bad score, your options are a little more limited and you may be stuck with a rate of 26% APR. In this case, it will take you 60 months to clear the debt and cost you close to $8,000 in interest.

The debtor with bad credit clearly needs the money more, but over the course of several years, they’ll have $5,000 less and be forced to deal with the debt for 16 months more.

Statistics like this are why it’s so hard for individuals to escape the cycle of bad credit.

How Much Debt is too Much?

There is no such thing as “too much debt”. The United States has trillions worth of debt and Apple, one of the biggest companies in the world, has billions. You can be rich, have a positive cash flow, and still have a lot of debt. However, everyone has a ceiling point, and this is based on their income.

To estimate yours you can use something known as the debt-to-income ratio. This is calculated by combining your total monthly payments and comparing them to your gross income.

If, for instance, you earn $10,000 a month and have total monthly payments of $3,000 ($1,000 in credit cards; $1,000 in personal loans, and a $1,000 mortgage payment) then your debt-to-income ratio is 30%. 

This ratio doesn’t directly affect your credit score, but it is used by mortgage lenders to determine your creditworthiness. You can also use it yourself to assess your financial situation.

A debt-to-income ratio below 30% is optimal and anything below 20% is ideal. If it climbs above 43%, you’ll start being rejected for mortgages and other major loans and if it climbs above 50%, it’s time to seek help.

A 50% debt to income ratio means, for example, that your monthly payment is $2,500 and your income is $5,000. Once you add utility bills, food, and other essentials to the mix, you won’t have a lot of money to play with and you’ll be one medical disaster away from financial ruin.

What Qualifies as Bad Debt?

All debt can be considered bad as you’ll always pay interest and run the risk of receiving derogatory marks. But some debts are worse than others and these are known as “Bad Debts”.

Generally speaking, bad debt is any form of debt that doesn’t increase your net worth. A mortgage, therefore, is classed as good debt, because it gives you a sizable asset that will likely appreciate in value; a brand-new car is bad debt, because its value will plummet as soon as you drive it away.

Student loans are also considered to be good debts as they help you build towards your future.

Debt is a common part of modern life. If you want a good education, a home, and a clean bill of health in the United States of America, you need to accumulate debt. By focusing only on “good debt” and avoiding “bad debt” (store cards, credit cards, car loans, retail loans) you can increase your chances of turning your life around and greatly improving your financial situation.

Options for Clearing Debt with a Bad Credit Score

Now that we’ve established just how damaging bad credit can be, it’s time to look at your options. There are a few ways you can pay off debt with a Poor or Very Poor credit score, but they may not all be available to you.

Build Your Credit Score

If time is on your side then your first step should be to improve your credit score, thus increasing your chances of making the following options work. This is easier said than done, but in just 3 months you could add up to 200 points to your credit score, which is enough to move from Very Poor to Good or from Fair to Excellent.

Credit scores are calculated based on 5 criteria, each weighted differently. Improving your score is a simple case of understanding what these criteria are and knowing how to manipulate them in your favor:

  • 10% – New Credit Accounts: Avoid opening any new accounts or applying for anything unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do apply for new loans, make sure those applications occur within a 14- to 30-day period (depending on the credit scoring system) so that all inquiries merge into one.
  • 10% – Mixture of Credit: This can only be improved by adding a variety of credit accounts to your credit report. However, in the short-term, this will do more harm than good and is therefore not something you should do simply for the sake of improving your score. It’s worth keeping in mind for the future, though.
  • 15% – Age of Accounts: Age is key. The older the accounts are, the better. Don’t open anything new and keep all cleared accounts active where possible.
  • 30% – Credit Utilization: This aspect of your credit score compares your available credit (such as the combined limits of all credit cards) to the used credit (such as the balance on those cards). You can improve it by increasing the number of payments you make every month but also by requesting an increased credit limit. This won’t reduce your score and will simply add some much-needed percentage points to your utilization ratio. You can also add yourself as an authorized user to a friend’s or family member’s credit card and keep all cleared credit cards active.
  • 35% – Payment History: Dispute all errors on your report and do everything you can to remove them. Keep meeting your minimum monthly payment obligations and every month your payment history will improve and your credit score will improve with it.

If you’re in such dire straits that you can’t increase your limits, acquire any new credit or do anything else discussed below, then seek to build your credit score with the following:

  • A Secured Credit Card: Offered by many credit card companies, these cards are secured against a cash deposit. You get all the benefits (including the convenience of a secure credit card) without the risks that large, unsecured debts can bring.
  • Online Lending Circles: These services bring many debtors together. They essentially just move money around, but everything is reported to the credit bureaus and if you meet the terms of service you can slowly build your score.
  • Credit Counselor: An expert in finance, budgeting, and debt relief who can help you find a solution that is tailor made for your specific needs. They can’t improve your credit score directly, but they can show you how.

Get a Cosigner

A cosigner with good credit can help you acquire a personal loan, consolidation learn, or low-interest credit card. If your parents are homeowners, you can also consider home equity loans or reverse mortgages, swapping home equity for a cash sum that you can use to clear your debts.

It’s not an option for everyone, however, and you’ll need to find someone who trusts you and has a strong credit score or a home to use as collateral.

A Debt Management Plan

You can get a debt management plan through a credit counseling agency or credit union. They work with debtors suffering hardship and essentially consolidate and then manage debts on their behalf.

You can reduce all debts to a single monthly payment, eliminating the risk of penalty rates, extra fees, and escalating payments.

They often require that you cancel all your credit cards except for one, which should only be used in emergencies. This is really the only downside to debt management, as canceling cards and other credit accounts will reduce your credit utilization score. 

If you fail to make your monthly payment during any given month the agreement may be canceled, at which point your creditors will defer to the original terms of the loan/credit.

A Debt Consolidation Loan

Consolidation loans are somewhat misunderstood. The idea behind these loans is that you consolidate multiple high-interest debts into one low-interest personal loan. The problem is, you can’t acquire this personal loan yourself, because if you have bad credit then low-interest loans are not exactly easy to come by.

You have to go through a debt consolidation company. These companies work with all kinds of credit scores and provide a debt consolidation loan that is large enough to cover your debts and has an interest rate low enough to reduce your monthly payment.

But, of course, creditors are not there to do you any favors. While the interest rates and monthly repayments are lower, the loan term is extended, which means you’ll have the debts for longer and will repay more interest over the term.

This is something that few debtors take into consideration as they get too caught up in the APR and monthly payment. As an example, let’s imagine that you have three credit cards totaling $20,000 and charging an average of 25% interest. With a minimum payment of $800 a month, it will take you 3 years to clear the debt and cost you over $8,500 in total interest.

If you consolidate that debt with a 10% interest rate, you can reduce the monthly payment to $264.30, but in doing so you’ll have the debt for 10 years and will repay over $11,700 in total interest.

A Balance Transfer Credit Card

A balance transfer credit card is basically a debt consolidation loan, only you’re moving multiple credit card balances onto a single card. Balance transfer cards offer introductory 0% interest rates that last for up to 18 months. 

You’ll need to pay a transfer fee of between 3% and 5%, which means a $20,000 balance will grow to $21,000, but if you continue making that $800 monthly payment then you’ll reduce your balance to just $6,600 by the time that introductory period ends.

Your credit score will drop temporarily when you sign up for a new credit card, but the drop will be small and will diminish over time. 

Your credit score will also drop if you close all credit cards that you clear, so keep these open if you can.

Debt Settlement

Debt settlement companies work best when you have bad credit resulting from multiple missed payments, collections, and charge-offs. At this point, your creditors/collectors are desperate to cut their losses and get a return, even if it’s just a fraction of the original balance. They’re open for negotiations and a debt settlement specialist will use this to their advantage and try to settle for between 40% and 90% of the balance.

The problem is, they will also request that you stop making payments as soon as the debt settlement process begins. This deprives your creditors of interest payments and makes them more inclined to settle. It also gives you more money to use towards the settlements. 

At the same time, it destroys your credit score, or what’s left of it, and there’s a risk you’ll be sued. This process can also last for up to 4 or 5 years and it may take several more years to rebuild your credit score after this.

Staying out of Debt and Building Your Credit Score

Clearing your debts is just half the battle. If you think your credit score is low now, wait until you go through debt settlement, bankruptcy, and even debt management. These debt relief methods will clear your debts, but they’ll do so in a way that damages your credit score and leaves derogatory marks that may remain for years.

The good news is that you have a clean slate and can slowly rebuild your credit score and get back on your feet. Just keep the following tips in mind:

Spend What you Can Afford

Don’t deprive yourself of credit cards just because you spent years battling credit card debt. A credit card gives you a secure and convenient way to spend money. It can help you during an emergency and cover you several days before payday when money is tight and your options are limited. A credit card with a large and relatively untouched credit limit is also hugely beneficial for your credit score.

So, by all means, keep your credit cards active, but be careful how you use them in the future. Only spend the money that you’re 100% confident you can repay. In most cases, you should limit yourself to spending money that you already have in your bank and then transferring that money across every couple of weeks. 

Not only will this prevent your balance from growing, in which case you’re one financial disaster away from that balance rolling over, but it will also improve your credit score.

Credit cards are reported to the credit bureaus once every 30 days and your balance will show as credit card debt even if you have every intention of paying the balance in full and have done so for every previous month. By clearing that balance early or repaying large quantities of it, your debt will be much lower at the end of the month.

Give Yourself a Strict Budget

Set a strict spending budget every month based on incomings and outgoings. Don’t just calculate your debt-to-income ratio—include all outgoings, such as food, bills, and other essentials, and calculate your incomings after tax. The figure you arrive at is your disposable income, at which point you can reduce it by 70%. This is the amount of money that you can comfortably spend every month, with the rest going towards your savings.

As an example, let’s imagine that you earn $4,000 per month after tax and have all the following obligations:

  • Credit Card Debt: $500
  • Personal Loan Debt: $500
  • Other Creditors: $100
  • Utility Bills: $300
  • Food: $600
  • Subscriptions: $200
  • Other Payments: $300
  • Remaining Balance = $1,500 – 70% = $450

Every month you have $450 to spend on eating out, day trips, clothes, electronics, and other luxuries. This ensures that your debts are paid, and you don’t spend money you don’t have. It will also prioritize your savings, which can help you during a future emergency.

Reduce Housing Expenses

A growing number of Americans are spending up to 50% of their income on housing expenses, including rent and insurance. If you have a mortgage, 50% is still a huge amount to spend, but it’s excusable because every month you move one step close to owning your home.

But if you’re spending all that income on rent, then you’re not moving any closer to acquiring an asset and are just flushing money down the drain. Try to reduce your housing expenses by moving to cheaper accommodation. If you move out of the city you get better accommodation for less, albeit with the added expense of an extended commute.

Reduce Your Subscriptions

The average American household spends several thousand dollars on nonessential subscription services every year. These packages cost just $5 to $30 each and seem insignificant at first, but if you have 5 of them that’s between $25 and $150 a month or $300 and $1,800 a month.

Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, Beauty Boxes, Music Streaming Services, Meal Delivery Services, Diet Clubs, Gift Boxes—it’s easy to accumulate thousands of dollars’ worth of annual debt without even realizing it. Get rid of the services that you don’t use and focus on the bare essentials.

Summary: Which Option is Right for you?

Your options are pretty limited if you have bad credit, but there are still a few things that you can do. If you have trusting parents who own their own home, begin by asking them to cosign or help you in other ways. If you have money for settlements, lots of derogatory marks and heaps of unsecured debt, then debt settlement might be the way to go.

If you’re struggling to make a decision, contact a credit counseling service in the first instance. They will ask you a few basic questions, asses your situation, and then recommend the best course of action. This service is provided for free by settlement companies, but you may not get the best advice as they’re more inclined to direct you towards their own services. However, even the best counseling services will charge you less than $40 for a short 30- to 60-minute appointment and this is all you need.


4 Inexpensive East Coast Destinations to Travel to With Your Family

It’s amazing how things change when you have kids. Before kids, weekend getaways and trips were fairly easy. When we needed to take a break, I remember we could look at the calendar and twenty minutes later, have a few dates to run by work for time off.  Even the destinations would already be top of mind and after looking for deals on travel sites and asking around, we’d settle with whatever had the best price. Pretty easy.

Fast forward a few years and now we’re parents of an eight-year-old and a four-year-old.  

Those first few years with our little ones were honestly rough. We’re trying to coordinate between two jobs and one school schedule. It was tough finding the perfect time to take a week or so off. Once we had our dates, we’d then have to make sure that we could find a deal. Thankfully, we’ve gotten a little bit wiser. We found our footing and came up with our little system for timing our vacations and snagging some good savings. We’ve also found some spots that allow us to unwind without breaking the budget 

Affordable Family Vacations to Take This Fall 

While school is back in season, that doesn’t mean you have to write off the rest of the year.  You still have time to take one last getaway to recharge your battery, have some fun, and connect as a family.  

To make things easy for you, I want to share a few of our favorite spots that both we and the kids enjoyed. The cherry on top? They’re also affordable spots!  

Daytona Beach, Florida 

If you’re looking to escape and have some beach time, then Florida is the way to go. However, staying in Orlando is not on the list if you’re looking for a chance to relax and actually save money. Instead, soak up some beach time before the weather gets too cold and hang out for a bit in Daytona Beach.  

When we did our trip last October in Florida, it couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was still warm, the large crowds of tourists were gone (along with the overpriced hotels), and there were plenty of things to do around.  

Racing fans can enjoy the Daytona International Speedway or if you’re in the mood for stars, you can head over to MOA’s planetarium.  And if your kids really want to visit the Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios, you can make it a more affordable day trip rather than blow your budget by spending your whole time there.  We once went to Universal right after Thanksgiving and were able to skip waiting in line because it was so quiet.  

Charleston, South Carolina 

We took trips to Charleston for the last few Decembers and I have to say, we’ve enjoyed every one. While the temperatures have cooled down a bit, making beach time minimal, we still managed to be out and about. Throw on a jacket, wear your fall layers, and you’re all set to hit the town and enjoy some history and food.  

You have to visit The Tavern at Rainbow Row. Besides being the oldest liquor store in the country, the vibe there is incredible. It’s small, but the selection is wide. Want to have an incredible lunch that’s still cheap? Try out The Blind Tiger. The truffle duck, bourbon bread pudding, buffalo cheese curds are delicious.  

Asheville, North Carolina 

One of our favorite low-key trips we’ve taken was a camping adventure with some friends just outside of Asheville. Being able to see the mountains shift into autumn colors was incredible. If you’re a photographer or love being outdoors, you have to take a trip here. It’s so peaceful and the views are amazing. For the parents, Asheville is the hot spot for fantastic food and a wide array of awesome breweries.   

After spending your days enjoying the parks and maybe getting some tubing in, treat yourself and the kids to Double D’s Coffee and Dessert. It’s a cool double-decker bus in the city that’s also nearby Wicked Weed brewery.  

Tuxedo, New York 

If you absolutely love New York City but also relish some peace and relaxation that a more rural spot gives, then you should check out some of the small towns upstate.   

I may be a little biased since I lived here for a few years, but fall is pretty much the best time to visit. You can truly have the best of both worlds with renting a spot in a town just outside the city.  The Metro-North Railroad means you can take a train to New York City, allowing you to enjoy a scenic ride and skip put on the nightmare of driving in Manhattan.  

Have your day trips to shop, visit the museums, and explore some of the best restaurants. You can then head back to your affordable getaway spot and enjoy some of the local events including celebrating autumn with exquisite apple cider.  

Saving Up for Family Trips 

While you hunt for the deals, you can start now saving up for your trip. You can create a vacation fund as separate savings to keep you motivated.  

Using a tool like Mint makes it easy to track your progress and help you find ways to trim your budget a smidge so you have more money for fun during your trip. Knowing our money leaks allowed us to try some fun monthly challenges to sock away an extra couple hundred dollars.  Keep your vacations debt-free also means there’s less stress as you don’t have to worry about a bill afterward. Double win in my book!  

If you’re looking for tips, please check out my post on how to shift gears and become a savvy saver.  It’s much easier than you think and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish in one month.  

Your Take on Family Getaways 

Wherever you go, I hope you have a wonderful time together. Now that you know my favorites, I’d love to hear about your spots.  What have been some of your best vacations together?  




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