You probably already know that big cities like San Francisco and New York offer extensive public transportation systems that make it a easy to get from point A to point B without a car, but these cities also come with some of the highest costs of living in the country and super saturated job markets.
That’s why Money Crashers rounded up a list of alternative cities that typically offer more job opportunities and lower costs of living than their more popular counterparts in addition to public transit and bike-sharing systems that make bopping around the city car-free a breeze.
If you love the idea of being free from the cost and energy burden of a car, then consider calling one of the following cities home.
1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
If you can brave the cold, then Minneapolis, with its light rail systems, nearly 900 buses, and 170 bike stations, is a great place to settle down without a car. It features diverse industries offering killer job opportunities, including five Fortune 500 companies, and a bevy of museums, theaters, restaurants, and shops. And in the warmer months, you can hike, bike, and stroll through more than 6,500 acres of parks and 70 maintained trails.
2. Arlington, Virginia
Nestled on the bank of the Potomac River and a stone’s throw away from D.C., Arlington is the most educated county in the nation, according to Urban Design+Research. In addition to an educated community, Arlington also has a great public transit system, including four Washington Metro lines with 11 stations. It also has a bike-sharing system called Capital Bikeshare that allows you to rent bikes and traverse more than 100 miles of bike trails.
When it comes to beach days and a bustling nightlife, it doesn’t get much better than Miami. But this hotspot is more than its bars and clubs; it’s also home to six major art museums and a thriving music scene dominated by Latin tunes. And, according to Walk Score, it ranks number five out of 3,000 cities for its walkability and offers a public transit system that includes commuter and rapid rails, buses, and trolleys. Search Miami homes for sale >
4. Seattle, Washington
Seattle might be rainy, but that’s a small price to pay for its easy access to the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Mountains. It also has a ton of art galleries and museums, music halls, and acclaimed theaters in addition to job opportunities from resident companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. And with electric trolleybuses, commuter rail lines, and a rapid transit line, it’s a cinch to move around without a car.
5. Portland, Oregon
Ranked among the Best Cities for New College Grads by Bloomberg Business, Portland offers a number of job opportunities from the likes of Nike, Intel, and Adidas. It also has a mild climate that gives you a gentle taste of all four seasons and easy access to surfing and skiing. Even better, it's among the greenest cities in the U.S., largely thanks to its more than 600 buses, 60 miles of light rail service, commuter rail system, and aerial trams.
6. Denver, Colorado
With an average of 300 days of sunshine every year, Denver is an ideal spot for the car-free outdoor enthusiast. It offers more than 200 parks and easy access to skiing hotspots like Vail, Breckenridge, and Steamboat Springs. It also offers low unemployment, at just 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with job opportunities from big companies like Level 3, Western Union, and Liberty Interactive. You can take a bus or light rail to work, or join the thousands who bike to work on the abundant dedicated bike lanes.
7. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is a bustling college town that enjoys all four seasons with opportunities to ski, skate, fish, bike, or sail, depending on the time of year. It’s home to more than 15,000 acres of lakes and 200 miles of hike and bike trails. It also regularly hosts music festivals and offers five art museums. And while it doesn’t have a light rail system, it boasts over 220 buses that make more than 2,000 stops around the city every 30 minutes or hour.
8. Austin, Texas
One of the top five cities for concerts and festivals according to Travel+Leisure, Austin is a stellar destination for music lovers. It’s also ideal for those seeking an active lifestyle, offering 50 public swimming pools and parks, including 350-acre Zilker Park and the nation’s largest natural swimming pool in an urban setting, Barton Springs. A light rail can take you around downtown, while buses run throughout the whole city. There are also a ton of pedicabs and 80 miles of dedicated bike trails.
9. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore offers many museums and art galleries that include the home of Edgar Allan Poe and a museum dedicated to historic trolleys and electric streetcars. It also hosts 12 colleges and was ranked as one of America’s Most Literate Cities by Central Connecticut State University. The public transit system is comprised of local, express, and commuter buses; a light rail; and a subway system, so going car-free is no problem at all.
10. St. Louis, Missouri
Home to the award-winning Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the National Blues Museum, and an 11,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, St. Louis offers no shortage of cultural activities. Additionally, it hosts a number of Fortune 500 companies, like Express Scripts, Emerson Electric, and Monsanto, so it shouldn’t be too tough to get a job to pay for said activities. Walkability varies by neighborhood, but there’s also a Metrobus system throughout the city in addition to MetroLink, the city’s light rail system, which offers 62 miles of tracks and 37 stations.
If you're thinking about going car-free and moving to one of these cities, a Nook expert can help you today - just contact us!