Greenville, South Carolina The small Southern city that feels much, much bigger City population: 60,670 Cost of living index: 105 (5% higher than US average)
Charleston and its coastal charms have been getting a lot of play lately, but clear across the other side of South Carolina you’ll find milder summers, greater opportunities, and one of the best small-city Downtowns in America. Between the rooftop bars, distilleries, and coffee shops on Main St are innovative restaurants like Grill Marks, Soby’s, and The Lazy Goat. The whole thoroughfare shuts down every Friday during the summer for an all-night street party, drawing the city’s fresh crop of young professionals — most of whom still miraculously recover for a breezy Saturday morning bike ride down Swamp Rabbit Trail to hit up the farmers market in Travelers Rest.
Greenville feels like a walkable big city, but it still maintains the prices and open space of a small town. A house here can be had for well under $200,000, and while values have gone up about 3% year over year, rents really haven’t. The city is home to more corporate headquarters than anywhere else in the region, and the abundance of jobs in fields like health care, auto engineering, and education have brought in a diverse population. As for weekend escapes, it’s a short drive to Charlotte or Asheville, or a few hours to the coast or the Tennessee border for majestic mountain hikes, lakes, and waterfalls. — M.M.
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