Stokesdale, North Carolina

This quiet town in northwestern North Carolina has grown tremendously over the past few decades. From 2000 to 2010, the population increased by 54 percent! However with a current population of only 5,331, it still has a small town feel.

Situated about equidistant between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, there are a good number of job opportunities within a fairly short commute. Winston-Salem is quickly become known as one of the artsier cities in North Carolina, so you’ll have arts and culture a short drive away. Schools in Stokesdale are excellent and many homes are spacious, new and reasonably-priced. Piedmont Triad International Airport is only a few miles from Stokesdale.

You might be thinking, North Carolina gets very hot and humid. While the summers are long, one plus about this part of the state is it’s less than a two hour drive to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. In summer, towns like Boone and Banner Elk are about 15 degrees cooler than the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area due to the higher elevation. It’s much less humid in the NC mountains too! Lots of skiing in the area in winter as well. Great for a quick weekend getaway. If you’re seeking nearby water sports, Belews Lake is a large, popular lake right outside Stokesdale.

The rolling hills of western North Carolina

Winters are pretty short in Stokesdale, and the town receives an average of only six inches of snowfall annually. If places like California and Florida aren’t appealing to you because they don’t really have a change in seasons, this part of North Carolina strikes a nice balance between long summers and just a bit of a chill and snow in the winter. The only drawback is North Carolina and Virginia can be infamous for being right between the rain to the south and snow to the north during large winter storms…which means freezing rain and sleet. Not fun to travel in, but it’s not terribly common and some winters they don’t see that kind of precipitation at all.

Another cool thing about Stokesdale is you won’t have to worry about being one of the only people from out-of-town. North Carolina has become a huge magnet for people from places like New York City and Washington DC seeking a lower cost-of-living. I have friends that moved from the NYC area to the Raleigh area many years ago, and were constantly running into people who also moved there from the Northeast. As a result, they never really felt alienated and adjusted to their new home quite well. Stokesdale could very well have the low cost-of-living, inexpensive homes, great schools and quiet lifestyle that is just right for you too!

Stokesdale stats:

Total Population: 5,331

Median home value: $189,600

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 88 degrees.

January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 48 degrees.

Average annual rainfall: 44 inches

Average annual snowfall: 6 inches

Fun fact: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro is one of the most popular museums in North Carolina:…and check out it’s magnificent reviews on Trip Advisor!

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.

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!



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!