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15 Hidden Gems: Unveiling the Underrated Cities of the USA

The United States has a lot of cities, and some are better than others when it comes to quality of life. A user asked the forum, “Does anyone have a list of good US cities to live in?” Here are the top responses. 

PORTLAND 

Colorful lights reflecting off the Willamette River in Downtown Portland, Oregon

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“Portland (very walkable, bike friendly, relatively extensive light rail system but unfortunately runs in traffic often. The Nike headquarters is right outside town, and it isn’t as economically strong as Seattle, but it’s never too cold.”

SEATTLE 

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“Seattle. It is a small, dense, highly walkable core, surrounded by suburbs, bikeable, and a great bus system that covers the whole region. It is rapidly building out a light rail network, technological/publishing hub, biotech, and medical hub. It surprisingly has a lot of theater/plays, never too cold but lots of rain/overcast.”

LOS ANGELES 

Downtown Los angeles cityscape with flashing fireworks celebrating New Year's Eve.

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“Los Angeles (LA) has great weather, the core is growing and has pockets of density, rapidly building out the metro system. It has a decent technology economy and good beaches, and Joshua Tree is nice, a mecca for the Television/Movie industry and the small technology industry in Santa Monica/Venice, but not very walkable or bikeable in most places, though. 

The transit here is better than people think, but many locals will still look down on you for using it.”

SAN FRANCISCO 

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge at

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“San Francisco is walkable, bikeable, has beautiful architecture, has okay transit, and is opening a new subway line soon. It could be more frequent and reliable, though. It is costly but a mecca for someone in technology. 

The weather is sunnier/warmer than Seattle or Portland but nowhere near as nice as Southern California/Los Angeles. Bad beaches unless you are open to driving far away. Yosemite is a few hours away.”

OAKLAND 

1. proud american

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“Oakland is a medium-sized city connected to San Francisco via their shared regional metro. It is walkable and bikeable, a little more affordable than San Francisco, but not by much anymore due to San Francisco’s overflow due to the technology boom. Weather is slightly better than San Francisco, bad beaches unless you drive far away, Yosemite is a few hours away.”

SACRAMENTO 

Happy,Dark,Skinned,Female,Student,With,Backpack,On,Shoulder,Posing

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“Sacramento. This is a small city with a small core, but it is delightful. The core is pretty walkable/bikeable but sprawls once you get outside. State capitol has a reliable economy there, a major agricultural hub, well connected to Davis, an extremely bike-friendly small college town close by, and the Bay Area through Amtrak.”

NEW YORK CITY 

Jones,Beach,,New,York,-,September,1,2014.,Jones,Beach.

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“New York City (NYC) is (the most walkable city in the United States, the largest metro in the world with okay frequency if not very reliable, and a large regional rail system and ferry system if not well integrated. Buses are an afterthought. 

There are better beaches than you think, and if you don’t like the ones in NYC, you can take the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) out to Long Island, which is just like one long beach. As a bicyclist, I feel unsafe biking here, and I used to bike everywhere. 

The East Coast, in general, is behind on that. Also, it’s expensive, but the subway gives you more options here than elsewhere if you’re fine with not living in Manhattan or Brooklyn. It has an extremely diverse economy, a publishing hub for the United States, a fashion industry, and a news/media hub; many technology companies have satellite offices here and plenty of small/medium-sized technology startups and finance. 

There is more diversity of all kinds than anywhere else in the United States. Very pro-union compared to other places in the states.”

BOSTON 

July 4th fireworks above the Charles River in Boston

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“Boston is walkable, has a decent metro, decent regional rail, green line expansion coming soon, biotech hub, an insane number of colleges in the area. I hope you like Irish pubs and Italian pasta spots.”

BALTIMORE 

american lady

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“Baltimore. It is walkable, affordable, and connected to the District Of Columbia (DC) via regional rail, with only one rail line. Unfortunately, it is economically dependent on DC and run down.

It is probably the only East Coast city that hasn’t recovered from prior decline; the most notable institution is John Hopkins. Great art scene, though, if certainly more interesting than DC.”

CHICAGO 

Chicago,,Illinois,,Usa,-,August,16,,2014:,People,Enjoying,Summer

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“Chicago is a walkable, bikeable, large, vibrant city with a stable economy but remains affordable, probably because the weather is terrible. It is the second-best city for theater, plays, and comedy after NYC, finance, and weirdly sizable manufacturing. 

It is famous for decorative architecture and is one of the only Midwest Rust Belt metropolises that successfully managed to pivot its economy. Pretty pro-union. Felt much more down to earth/working class compared to places like NYC or LA).”

PHILADELPHIA 

City hall in Philadelphia, PA, USA and fireworks in the night sky show

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“Philadelphia. It is very walkable, beautiful, and famous for its rowhomes and colonial aesthetic. Septa is okay. It could be much better if they switched from commuter to regional rail as it is already electrified. 

An hour away from NYC via Amtrak. It is affordable, on the upswing, has more going on than Baltimore, and has good nightlife, but I’m not sure what the main industry here is. It is the only United States city I’ve been to where random bars still allowed smoking, and it happened more than once.”

MADISON 

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“Madison, Wisconsin, is lovely for a smaller city. It has a decent bus system, and it is very bikeable. There are lots of paths through the city from old rail lines. The city plows the bike paths before the streets! Platinum bike-friendly cities are a decent proxy for good transportation, I suspect.”

MIAMI

Miami,South,Beach,,View,From,Port,Entry,Channel.

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“Miami: Fantastic weather. Terrible transit. Fun neighborhoods. It’s very Latino and has lots of good food. Besides, the beach didn’t feel like too many public spaces.”

BROOKLYN

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“Brooklyn. Walk and bike everywhere. The cars vroom around like pigs splattering pedestrians, but what are you going to do? We have subways, we have density, and you can subway/walk and bike everywhere. Where else are you going to go in America? Haven’t heard of a place.”

ANN ARBOR 

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“Ann Arbor. Walkable, safe, absolutely gorgeous. You’d have to be about the most miserable, disagreeable person to go wrong with Ann Arbor.”

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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.