Princeton Tops List of “Best Small Cities in America”

Plus, a look at how other small cities from the Philadelphia region fared in the rankings.


Take a bow, Princeton, New Jersey. You’ve been ranked as the top spot on WalletHub’s most recent listicle of “Best Small Cities in America.” We know what you’re all thinking: Finally, this sleepy town in Mercer County has something to hang its hat on after all these years (kidding).

It’s no small feat, considering the list compared the picturesque streets of Princeton with the amenities of 1,268 other small cities. So, much like applying to Princeton University, the field was wide and the competition was fierce.

“Inevitably, life in a small city demands some tradeoffs such as shorter business hours, a heavier reliance on cars and fewer dating opportunities,” says Richie Bernardo, of WalletHub. The wide net was cast in order to “find the ones where residents don’t have to give up much.”

According to the methodology behind the ranking, cities were ranked according to four categories: Affordability, Economic Health, Education & Health, and Quality of Life. Princeton’s overall score of 61.90 topped runners up Littleton, Colorado (57.62) and Dublin, Ohio (57.22) by a wide margin.

While Princeton’s Affordability ranking was unsurprisingly abysmal (1144), it was balanced by the fact that it was ranked in the top 50 in Economic Health (1st overall), Education & Health (7th), and Quality of Life (41). Only West Fargo, North Dakota came remotely close to those those numbers, and who wants to live there (not necessarily a dig at the Roughrider State, it ranked 375th in Quality of Life).

So how did some of the other towns in the Philadelphia region fare in the rankings? Meh:

  • 389 – Lancaster, PA
  • 433 – Easton, PA
  • 660 – Wilmington, DE
  • 666 – Toms River, NJ
  • 935 – Norristown, PA
  • 967 – Drexel Hill, PA
  • 1116 – Atlantic City, NJ
  • 1192 – Chester,PA
  • 1206 – Camden, NJ

Think that list looks terrible? Then you better turn away if you have a soft spot for small cities in California, where the final 23 slots are inhabited by areas located in the Golden State. Woof.

Remember, as Philadelphians, we know that it could always be worse. Hell, it was just this past August that WalletHub ranked Philadelphia at the 3rd worst largest city in America. So hey, at least we’ve got that going for us.

In the meantime, give a small round of applause for Princeton – the Best Small City in America.