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Top 20 Most Charming Small Cities

Not everyone wants to move to a huge metropolis. So for those who are looking for apartment rentals in small cities, we created a list of the most charming cities with a population between 75,000 and 200,000 residents. Using our Charm Index, we identified the 20 Most Charming Small Cities and their most charming areas.

1. Alameda, California
2014 Population: 76,419
Alameda Theatre
By Binksternet - Own work, Public Domain,

Alameda received top scores for charm due to a high concentration of local business boutiques. Also, with a combination of highly rated businesses, many of Alameda’s local institutions such as a theatre and townhall, this area is one of the most charming city centers in the San Francisco Bay. Alameda peaks in charm on Park Street from Encinal Avenue to Tiden Way with a Charm Location score of 97 - See where to live in Alameda.

2. Downtown San Mateo, San Mateo, California
2014 Population: 102,893
Downtown San Mateo Best Place to Live
By Daderot - Own work, Public Domain,

For cities with less than 200,000 residents, San Mateo comes in second in charm due to a high concentration of more than 40 boutique businesses within its downtown neighborhood that include local book stores, theatres, cafés and nearby Central Park and its Japanese Tea Garden. San Mateo peaks in charm on S. Ellisworth Avenue from Baldwin Avenue to E. 4th Avenue with a Charm Location score of 97 - See Charming Apartments in San Mateo.

3. Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2014 Population: 109,694
Cambridge Best Place to Live
By Caroline Culler (User:Wgreaves) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Due to a high concentration of local businesses and amenities, Cambridge’s Harvard Square is the third most charming neighborhood for cities of its size. Harvard Square peaks at a 97 Charm Location score because of its many highly rated local businesses, high safety ratings, and an active populace. See best places to live in Cambridge.

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan
2014 Population: 117,770
Ann Arbor Best Place to Live
By Gsgeorge - Originally uploaded to English wikipedia by Gsgeorge on 27 July 2006 (UTC), Public Domain,

Ann Arbor received some of the top charm ratings in the nation according to the Charm Index due to its concentration of antique stores, local cafes, and other nearby local shops. If you are looking for apartments for rent, look near S. Main Street and W. Washington Street intersection where charm score peaks at 97 - See Apartments in Ann Arbor.

5. Orange, California
2014 Population: 117,770
Orange Best Place to Live
By Original uploader was Lordkinbote at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Off2riorob using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 2.0,

Orange came in with one of the most charming neighborhoods because of its 25 (and more) local boutique businesses, parks, a library and townhall, all in the area on E. Chapman Avenue between N. Center Street and S. Glassell Street received a very high Charm Location score peaking at 97 - See where to live in Orange, CA.

6. Downtown Berkeley, Berkeley, California
2014 Population: 118,853
Berkeley Best Place to Live
Photo: By User:Introvert - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Downtown Berkeley received a Charm Location score peaking at 95 with one of the largest areas of overall charm on the list. The Charm Index considered Downtown Berkeley “Very Charming” because of an abundance of local shops and boutiques as well as a strong flair for the arts with art displays and theatres in the vicinity. The area peaks in charm along Addison Street between MLK Jr. Way and Shattuck Avenue - See Charm Map for Berkeley.

7. Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia
2014 Population: 150,575
Old Town Alexandria Best Place to Live

Old Town Alexandria received very high Charm Location Score because of a high concentration of local businesses that include antique stores, galleries, and other shops. The Old Town Alexandria’s charm peaks along King Street and S. Fairfax Street with an overall score of 95 while the surrounding blocks all hit the low 90s - See where to live in Alexandria.

8. Burbank, California
2014 Population: 105,368
By Junkyardsparkle - Own work, CC0,

Burbank, California received a peak Charm Rating of 95 along N. San Fernando Boulevard and East Orange Grove Avenue because of the presence of more than 30 local boutique businesses within the surrounding area. - See best places to live in Burbank, CA.

9. Oceanside, California
2014 Population: 174,558
Oceanside Best Places to Live
By surfcrs -, CC BY 2.0,

Oceanside, California ranked 9th among the most charming small cities in the U.S. Its most charming area is found in the Bel Verde neighborhood along Carlsbad Boulevard between Mission Avenue and Civic Center Drive. There are over 15 local boutique businesses as well as a farmers market, library, and bookstore in that area - See Charm Map for Oceanside, CA.

10. Old Town Pasadena, Pasadena California
2014 Population: 140,881
Pasadena Best Place to Live
By Adbar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Old Town Pasadena received very high Charm Ratings for its abundance of local cafes and boutiques, its focus on local art in the form of art galleries and theatres – all with high resident ratings. There are some franchise businesses within the area such as Anthropology and Pottery Barn that do not add charm, but do little to detract from Old Town’s impressively charming character - See best places to live in Old Town Pasadena.

11. Carlsbad, California
2014 Population: 112,299
Carlsbad Best Place to Live
By User:Muteknee - English Wikipedia, Public Domain,

Carlsbad received high ratings from the Charm Index peaking with a 96 Charm Rating along State Street between Grand Avenue and Carlsbad Village Drive. The neighborhood has over 35 establishments of local cafes, fine dining restaurants, and charming shops such as antique stores in this area. - See most charming areas in Carlsbad.

12. Downcity, Providence, Rhode Island
2014 Population: 179,154
Downcity Best Place to Live
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Providence’s Downcity is shaded so darkly with green on our Charm Index that you can barely see its name on the map. While many of the surrounding neighborhoods such as College Hill and Fox Point received high charm scores, Downcity’s high concentration of well-rated local businesses, pedestrian plazas, and cafes earned it the highest Charm Rating in the area with a 95. - See where to live in Providence.

13. Downtown Evanston, Evanston, Illinois
2014 Population: 75,570
Evanston Best Place to Live
By Nutmegger at en.wikipedia / Later version(s) were uploaded by W Nowicki at en.wikipedia. - Self-photographed, Public Domain,

Downtown Evanston, a small city north of Chicago, hit all the marks for the Charm Index and came out as the 13th most charming city of its size in the U.S. Evanston peaks with a 93 Charm Rating due to its high concentration of local businesses and cafes and low crime ratings. Nearby Northwestern University adds a notable impact on the city’s charm. See best places to live in Evanston.

14. North Historic District, Savannah, Georgia
2014 Population: 144,352
North Historic District Savannah Best Place to Live
By RCraig09 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Savannah’s North Historic District came in 14th on our list due to its high concentration of highly-rated, local boutiques as well as art galleries, bookstores, and other urban amenities. According to the Charm Index, North Historic District peaks in charm around Johnson Square. - See best places to live in Savannah.

15. The French Quarter, Charleston, South Carolina
2014 Population: 144,352
Charleston Best Place to Live
By Brian Stansberry - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

The French Quarter of Charleston, South Carolina ranks strong. Along Bay Street, the Charm Index indicated that there is a concentration of highly-rated, charming local shops such as antique stores, cafes, and bookstores as well as very low crime rates. See where to live in Charleston.

16. Tempe, Arizona
2014 Population: 130,113
Tempe Best Place to Live
By Schwnj at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Tempe, Arizona received a peak Charm Index score of 88 along E. 5th Street between S. Mil Avenue and S. Forest Avenue. Rated as Very Charming, this area has more than 20 local boutique businesses that include cafes, bookstores, a nearby park and a theatre. See Charm Map for Tempe.

17. Downtown Vernon Street, Roseville, California
2014 Population: 128,615
Roseville Best Place to Live

Downtown Roseville, California received a high score with the Charm Index peaking at 83 along Vernon Street. The small downtown has a high concentration of local boutique businesses, coffee shops, a theatre as well as several city institutions such as a town hall and museum. See where to live in Roseville.

18. Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee
2014 Population: 184,281
Knoxville Best Place to Live
By Nathan C. Fortner (User:Nfutvol at en.wikipedia) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Downtown Knoxville’s business center scored highly with the Charm Index due to an abundance of local boutique shops, cafes, bookstores, a theatre, museum, and Krutch Park’s central location. Downtown Knoxville peaked at a 79 Charm Rating in multiple areas - See best places to live in Knoxville.

19. Downtown Tallahassee, Florida
2014 Population: 188,107
Tallahassee Best Place to Live
By Zverzver at English Wikipedia - Own work, Public Domain,

Downtown Tallahassee received high ratings according to the Charm Index. The area peaks in charm in the blocks surrounding S. Adams Street between E. College Street and W. Pensacola Street. The highest Charm Location score is an 80, though many of the surrounding blocks received high 70s due to attractive amenities such as local cafes, a town hall, and a theatre. See Charm Map for Tallahassee.

20. Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan
2014 Population: 193,792
Grand Rapids Best Place to Live
By Steven Depolo -, CC BY 2.0,

Downtown Grand Rapids ranked highly according to the Charm Index due to a concentration of appealing local amenities such as art displays, theatres, locally-owned boutiques, and the presence of parks, a university and a library. Although most of Downtown Grand Rapids received high Charm Location scores within the 70s, between Michigan Street NW and Pearl Street NW along Monroe Avenue NW is where the Charm Index indicated a peak score of 70 - See where to live in Grand Rapids.
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