These Are The 10 Most Successful Small Cities In America

By Ryan Morris
Oct. 16, 2017

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Everyone out there seems to think their hometown is the best, or the greatest, or the most successful.

So how do you measure success? It can be tough to decide which are the best cities, since what makes a place great for one person might just make it suck for another.

But hey, there’s no need to be so subjective about it all — not when we can just let cold, unfeeling numbers calculate success for us.

Using data from the American Community Survey, that’s just what we did, using everything from unemployment and poverty levels to a city’s income to help us decide which were the most successful cities in the US.

The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.

  1. The Village of Indian Hill, OH
  2. Terrell Hills, TX
  3. Ladue, MO
  4. Bellaire, TX
  5. West University Place, TX
  6. Lawrence, NY
  7. Melissa, TX
  8. North Hills, NY
  9. Cherry Hills Village, CO
  10. Glendale, MO

How We Did It

We used the latest American Community Survey (ACS) data in order to help us figure out our list.

First, we looked only at cities whose population is between 5,000 and 100,000, that aren’t Census-Designated Places (with the exception of Hawaii, where pretty much everything is a CDP).

Then we ranked each city by three separate factors:

  • Unemployment levels
  • Income
  • Poverty

Lastly, we averaged all of these rankings to get each city’s final rank, which got us our list of the most successful small cities in America.

Does your city make the top ten? Read on to the full list to find out.

1. The Village of Indian Hill

State: Ohio
City Description: Located just a few miles north of Cincinnati, the Village of Indian Hill takes the top spot on our list with the lowest unemployment rate in America and a poverty rate of only 1.2%.

If you find the city’s name a little strange, it’s important to note that this is not a village that goes by the name of Indian Hill — this is a city whose official name is the Village of Indian Hill. That’s because despite being nearly 6,000 citizens strong, the Village puts a big emphasis on its rural, community-centric atmosphere.

2. Terrell Hills

State: Texas
City Description: A suburban town located on the edge of downtown San Antonio, Terrell Hills sits at our number 2 spot — while the town’s income is only 75% of the Village of Indian Hill’s, Terrell Hills’ unemployment and poverty rates of 1% and 1.3% are almost as good.

True to the Texas spirit, since it was founded the town of Terrell Hills has done everything in its power to remain independent, having survived an annexation attempt by the nearby city of San Antonio in the 1940s and adopted a home rule charter barely a decade later.

3. Ladue


State: Missouri
City Description: It might surprise those outside of the state to learn that not only does Missouri show up on our list, this is only the first entry in our top ten that features the old Southern state.

The green, shady town of Ladue takes the 3rd spot on our list with low poverty and unemployment levels, coupled with a average income of nearly $200,000. The city prides itself on its strong zoning regulations which help keep the town’s neighborhoods looking like parks.

4. Bellaire

State: Texas
City Description: Once a small agricultural center, a population boom in the 1940s led to Bellaire, Texas, becoming a city with a population of almost 20,000. Often called “the City of Homes,” Bellaire takes the 4th spot on our list through its extraordinarily high income levels as well as poverty and unemployment rates both under 2%.

5. West University Place

State: Texas
City Description: Texas is dominating small town success — this is the 3rd Texas town on our list already (with more to come).

Although its poverty and unemployment levels are marginally higher than some of the earlier items on this list, West University place takes the 5th spot on our list thanks to being one of the few cities on our list whose average income breaks 200k.

Many of the streets were named by Lillian Nicholson, an English major at Rice University who was the friend of a city planner’s daughter, and as a result there are roads in West University that are still named after famous authors.

6. Lawrence


State: New York
City Description: Formerly a vacation destination for the wealthier New England families, a series of storms and urban developments changed the town of Lawrence from a resort spot into a modern suburb. The city’s relatively low average income compared to others on the list — a little over $140,000 — is offset by the fact that both its unemplyment and poverty levels remain below 2%.

7. Melissa

State: Texas
City Description: The final Texan of our top ten list, Melissa manages to hold on to the 7th spot with an average income of $116,944 thanks to its extraordinarily low unemployment and poverty rates of 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively.

A fast-growing city, Melissa was once an important shipping point that in its years has weathered lots of natural disasters, including tornados and devastating fires, so the fact that it’s doing so well now is impressive.

8. North Hills


State: New York
City Description: A city in New York known for its private, gated lifestyle, was originally formed as a tax haven to prevent nearby towns from raising taxes on its land.

That tradition has continued today thanks to its supremely low unemployment and poverty rates of 0.5% and 1.5%, coupled with an average income of $114,716.

9. Cherry Hills Village


State: Colorado
City Description: Originally named for a grove of cherry trees near the site of the original town, Cherry Hills Village is an idyllic small city. One of the richest places in Colorado and the entire US, Cherry Hills frequently plays host to major golfing events like the PGA Championship.

The city takes the 9th spot on our list through its extremely high average income of $237,569

10. Glendale

State: Missouri
City Description: Last on our top ten list is Glendale, Missouri, named for the scenic glens and dales found in the region the city is based. Glad they decided not to go with their original town name idea, “Treerock.”

Despite having a relatively lower average income of $120,653, Glendale takes our top ten spot thanks to its low unemployment and poverty rates of 1.4% and 1.2% respectively.

Wrapping Up

You’ll find our extended list below, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you a recent college graduate looking for a job? Here are some of the best reasons you should consider looking at startups.

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which are the most eco-friendly schools in each state.

Extended List of the Most Successful Small Cities in the US

Rank City State
1 The Village of Indian Hill Ohio
2 Terrell Hills Texas
3 Ladue Missouri
4 Bellaire Texas
5 West University Place Texas
6 Lawrence New York
7 Melissa Texas
8 North Hills New York
9 Cherry Hills Village Colorado
10 Glendale Missouri
11 Woodcliff Lake New Jersey
12 Town and Country Missouri
13 Helotes Texas
14 Highland Village Texas
15 Western Springs Illinois
16 Palos Verdes Estates California
17 Pepper Pike Ohio
18 Mountain Brook Alabama
19 Trophy Club Texas
20 Glencoe Illinois
21 Irvington New York
22 Demarest New Jersey
23 Winnetka Illinois
24 Mill Valley California
24 Watchung New Jersey
26 Brentwood Tennessee
27 Shorewood Minnesota
28 Castle Pines Colorado
29 Harrison Wisconsin
30 Elm Grove Wisconsin
31 Oak Ridge North Carolina
32 Victoria Minnesota
32 Little Silver New Jersey
34 Fair Oaks Ranch Texas
35 Briarcliff Manor New York
35 Scarsdale New York
37 Los Altos California
38 La Canada Flintridge California
39 Oakwood Ohio
40 Zionsville Indiana
41 Southlake Texas
42 Englewood Cliffs New Jersey
43 Leawood Kansas
44 Asbury Iowa
44 Colleyville Texas
46 Wyoming Ohio
47 Poolesville Maryland
48 Weldon Spring Missouri
49 Pelham Manor New York
50 Mililani Mauka Hawaii
51 Vienna Virginia
52 Marvin North Carolina
53 Dardenne Prairie Missouri
54 East Honolulu Hawaii
55 Erie Colorado
55 Huntington Woods Michigan
57 Medina Minnesota
58 Arlington Tennessee
59 Summerfield North Carolina
60 Fox Point Wisconsin
61 La Habra Heights California
62 Oak Brook Illinois
63 Sammamish Washington
64 Franklin Park Pennsylvania
65 University Park Texas
66 Atherton California
67 Wilmette Illinois
68 Powell Ohio
69 Clive Iowa
70 Haddonfield New Jersey
71 Signal Mountain Tennessee
72 Bernardsville New Jersey
73 Beachwood Ohio
74 Greenwood Village Colorado
75 New Providence New Jersey
76 St. John Indiana
77 Plain City Utah
78 Grandview Heights Ohio
79 Lake Bluff Illinois
80 Northbrook Illinois
81 Keller Texas
82 Dublin Ohio
83 Pike Road Alabama
84 Rogers Minnesota
84 Royal Kunia Hawaii
86 Farmington Utah
87 Des Peres Missouri
88 Brecksville Ohio
89 Montgomery Ohio
90 Avon Indiana
91 Mequon Wisconsin
92 Worthington Ohio
93 Sunset Hills Missouri
94 Woodside California
95 Tiburon California
96 Bay Village Ohio
97 Eagle Colorado
98 San Marino California
99 Mendham New Jersey
100 Nolensville Tennessee

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Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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Topics: Rankings