Virginia Beach, Virginia

If a major city makes it onto a list like this, it must be pretty special. Virginia Beach is such a place.

Most major American cities have numerous sections with high crime and poorly-rated school systems. Virginia Beach is low on crime in all major categories. It is one of the safest cities of its size in America. Most of it’s public schools score better than even some of the most desirable suburbs across the country.

Virginia Beach has over 450,000 people, so you can find plenty of the amenities a large city has to offer: arts/entertainment, sports teams, restaurants, bars and exciting events year-round. It’s also part of the larger Tidewater metro region in southeastern Virginia, containing Norfolk and Newport News. So if you don’t find something right in Virginia Beach, chances are you’ll find it close by. Being in a populated area also offers many job opportunities.

Spacious ocean beaches in Virginia Beach

However what really makes Virginia Beach really stand out are the miles and miles of beautiful, sandy, Atlantic beaches. The city takes great pride in it’s beaches, and they’re quite popular among tourists. Water temperatures get close to 80 degrees in August! Also, the geography of the coast here benefits Virginia Beach. Most of the hurricanes coming up from the south hit eastern North Carolina first, so they rarely are a major threat to the Tidewater area. The ocean breezes also prevent it from becoming quite as stiflingly hot and humid in summer as areas inland such as Richmond.

Weather in general is quite pleasant in Virginia Beach. Winters are mild, but there are still four distinct seasons. Summer is the longest season and winters are relatively short. This part of the east coast also gets lots of sunshine year-round.

Virginia Beach has a relatively low cost-of-living for a large city. The average home value is fairly low, around $267,000. With an above average household income of close to $71,000, most people could live quite comfortably in Virginia Beach. If you love both the city and the ocean, Virginia Beach could be the perfect place for you!

Virginia Beach stats:

Total Population: 450,435

Median home value: $267,300

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 87 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 49 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 45 inches

Average annual snowfall: 6 inches

Fun fact: The beautiful Virginia Beach waterfront contains a three mile long concrete boardwalk, open to both bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s one of the cleanest, most well-kept boardwalks you’ll find anywhere.

Kennedy Township, PA

Kennedy Township just about has it all. Great schools, low property taxes, low crime, job opportunities. The Pittsburgh area is attracting lots of tech companies these days, and has a diverse all-around economy to employ people in many industries. There isn’t much of a downtown in Kennedy Twp, but there is a large strip mall area in the center of town where much of the community congregates. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh was recently ranked as one of the best hospitals in Pennsylvania.

The winter weather may be a bit of a drawback for some. Snowfall is above the annual average, and this is one of the cloudier parts of the country in winter. The rest of the year is quite nice however. Spring and fall are beautiful, and summers don’t get terribly hot. The beaches of Lake Erie are about a two hour drive and there are smaller lakes much closer.

Pittsburgh is very close by, with plenty of activities and events. The restaurants are incredible, the city has professional sports, scores high on the arts scene, and has lots of great pubs/bars.

Kennedy Township stats:

Total Population: 8,134

Average home value: $168,200

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 83 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 36 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 37 inches

Average annual snowfall: 31 inches

Fun fact: Looking for a church picnic? This is the #3 county in America with the most Catholic and Mainline Protestant congregations.

The impressive Pittsburgh skyline

Hilliard, Ohio

If you’re seeking midwestern Americana and a suburban lifestyle, you should highly consider Hilliard, OH. Situated just a few miles northwest of Columbus, Hilliard residents enjoy a very short daily commute downtown. The schools are highly-rated and property taxes are moderate. The City of Hilliard contains a combination of newly-built developments and charming houses built within the last 60 years or so. Crime is very low. Columbus has risen far above Cleveland and Cincinnati over the past few decades to be the largest city in Ohio. It’s a thriving city with a surprisingly fun college vibe in some areas for a city so large. Many top hospitals are within a short drive of Hilliard.

Columbus skyline

There are a number of lakes with swimming and boating in the Columbus area, mostly north and east of the city. The morning low temperatures can be quite cold in winter during Arctic blasts, but the frigid outbreaks don’t last nearly has long in Hilliard as they do in other parts of the Midwest (e.g. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa). Snowfall isn’t terribly high. Summers are warm and humid, but not stifling. Spring can bring about thunderstorms, but Hilliard lies well east of Tornado Alley. Central Ohio in general is a great place to settle for the long haul, check it out!

Hilliard stats:

Total Population: 34,386

Median home value: $225,799

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 86 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 37 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 38 inches

Average annual snowfall: 22 inches

Fun fact: Hilliard has the only flag from the World Trade Center that is not in a museum. The flag is located in front of the fire department on Northwest Pkwy.

Edgewood, New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the country’s best kept secrets. The northern part of the state is particularly appealing, with four distinct seasons, lots of sunshine, low humidity and year-round outdoor activities. Edgewood is near it all, plus lots of job opportunities in nearby Albuquerque.

New Mexico in autumn

Edgewood is a small village with good schools, it’s a great place to raise a family. Seniors would benefit from the dry climate, although the area does receive some snow in winter. Keep in mind though, it’s that light powdery snow that falls in the western USA. A broom is often all that’s needed to clear your path of snow.

There aren’t many nearby large lakes in the area for beaches, swimming, etc, but northern New Mexico makes up for that in so many other ways. Within about an hour’s drive of Edgewood there are top notch ski resorts, beautiful mountains for hiking/biking, plus lots of events, restaurants and bars in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Some of the nation’s best art galleries can be found in historic Santa Fe. Speaking of history, Route 66 runs right through Edgewood!

Edgewood is a friendly small town in the sunny Southwest. It could be just for you!

Edgewood stats:

Total Population: 3,845

Median home value: $219,300

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 86.

December is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 44 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 14 inches

Average annual snowfall: 25 inches

Fun fact: Edgewood is rated as one of the best place to by a house in the entire state of New Mexico!

Elk Grove, California

ElkGrove is a beautiful community. Lots of sunshine all year long, andit’s too warm for snow. However, unlike the California coast, thereare four seasons. You can even see the leaves change in the fall. Itcan get hot in the summer, but not brutal, and very little humidity.Elk Grove is a suburb of Sacramento, with lots of state jobs alongwith a healthy job market in the private sector. Plus the CentralValley of California is the the year-long fruit and vegetable marketfor much of the USA, so there are lots of opportunities related toagriculture.

State Capitol in Sacramento

Youmight be thinking, the earth shakes too much in California. This areais well east of the San Andreas Fault, so there is virtually noearthquake activity. It’s also half-way between San Francisco andLake Tahoe. The ocean is about a two hour drive west and skiing isabout a two hour drive to the east. Elk Grove has highly-ratedschools, much above the California state average. Property taxes arevery low and it’s a safe place to live.

Elk Grove is a very tolerant community as well, that scores high on diversity. It has a wide variety of restaurants. Downtown Sacramento is only fifteen miles away, with all the great things a large city has to offer. Old Sacramento has an Old West theme and is located right along the waterfront. The city also has lots of great museums, restaurants, parks, sporting events and the state fairgrounds are open all year long.

Elk Grove stats:

Total Population: 166,228

Median home value: $349,500

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 92 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 54 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 19 inches

Average annual snowfall: none

FunFact: Elk Grove is one of the top ten sunniest cities in the country!

Branford, Connecticut

Interested in moving to New England, but concerned about the harsh winters? Consider the southern New England gem of Branford, CT. It doesn’t receive the bitter cold and high snowfall amounts of northern New England. Winters are tempered a bit by the Long Island Sound. Branford is about 80 miles from New York City. That’s far enough away for reasonable house prices/property taxes, yet close enough for an exciting day trip.

One of Branford’s greatest assets is its location right on the Long Island Sound. Beaches, fishing and boating are only minutes away. It’s in the greater New Haven area, a highly populated part of the state offering a healthy job market. Branford also boasts a quaint main street area with lots to do. Having a downtown gives a place an identity for it’s residents to take pride in. That community feel is a huge plus. It’s a great way to meet your new neighbors! Branford has low crime and a highly-rated school system as well.

If you’re seeking a suburban lifestyle right on the water, take a look at beautiful Branford!

The Connecticut coastline

Branford stats:

Total Population: 28,149

Median home value: $298,200

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 83 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 38 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 47 inches

Average annual snowfall: 32 inches

Fun Fact: Like pizza? Who doesn’t?! Sally’s Apizza and Frank Pepe’s are both in nearby New Haven. They’re rated as having some of the best pizza in the USA!


Did you ever notice that some other “best places” lists will recommend towns/cities that can sometimes be freezing, very expensive, oppressively humid, dull, boring, etc? On this site, a human being (me) instead of a computer will share with you some great spots where people of all ages can happily call home. I’m a licensed Geographic Info Systems Professional with many years of experience in geography, demographics, real estate research, and I love the USA. Here’s how I come up with our top spots to live:

  • Moderate weather. This could refer to somewhere that stays around the same temperature all year, or that has four seasons…just not too extreme. If it gets too hot, too humid, brutally cold, gets tons of snow or rains too often, they don’t make the cut. Sorry frigid Duluth, Minnesota, nothing personal.
  • Low crime. This applies to all types, but especially violent crimes. Living someplace where you feel safe any time of day or night is priceless.
  • Low to moderate cost of living. This takes into account things like home prices, average salaries, and property taxes.
  • Good schools. No one wants to see their kid join a gang.
  • Identity. This isn’t a “must have” but a “nice to have” quality. Most people like to identify with a town that has a nice, walkable, main street area, as opposed to sprawling strip malls. A sense of community and pride resonates with many Americans. Lets go home team!
  • Culture/arts. If not in the town itself, very close by. You should have options other than just getting sloshed every night for entertainment…even though that’s fun once in a while (not judging you).
  • Water! Also not a “must have” for everyone, but more than important enough. An ocean or lake within a fairly short distance is great, especially for summer activities. Even if you don’t go in the water that often, knowing that it’s there when you want it is a huge plus.
  • Hospitals. It is particularly important for seniors to have a good hospital within a short distance. And lets face it, we’ve all had to take that adventure to the ER for one reason or another.
  • Economy/Jobs: A multitude and diversity of industries is important.
  • Environmentally healthy: far from landfills and environmental hazard areas

Please click Follow, I update my list with more great places quite frequently. If you have familiarity with some places on this list, feel free to share your comments. Think your town belongs on this list? Let me know why, it may just end up on this blog too!

Thanks for visiting, and I really hope this blog helps people who are looking for the perfect place to call home. That’s what it’s all about!

About the Blogger

Greg Alesi is a licensed, freelance GISP (Geographic Information Systems Professional). He has many years of experience as a Senior GIS Analyst. His mapping and research have spanned several industries, including:

  • Cartography
  • Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Services
  • Airport Redevelopment
  • Travel
  • Asset Management
  • Marketing / Demographics
  • Routings / Fleet navigation
  • Wireless Communication Networks
  • Utilities
  • Traffic/Mass Transit
  • Sales Territories
  • Infrastructure
  • Land Use / Zoning
  • Topography
  • Political Mapping
  • Crime Statistics
  • Soil Types / Impervious Surfaces
  • Wetlands / Groundwater
  • FEMA Flood Plains
  • GPS Data Collection
  • Site Selection / Acquisition / Location Analysis
  • Real Estate Research
  • Land Development

Need help with some mapping/research? Contact Greg, he’d be happy to help you!