9 Midsize Cities Where You Can Afford a Great Life

It’s mind-boggling how rent continues to skyrocket in all those “biggest” and “best” capitals of the world. And it’s not like your apartment is getting bigger or you’re getting paid more. Fed up? In this Design9 we’ve found 9 midsize cities where you can live the life you want without going broke.

1. Charleston, S.C.

If you’re tired of big-city attitudes, we recommend Charleston, known for its warmth and friendliness. The city is on the Charleston Harbor, which gives it a tranquil vibe and some great views. Night owls, take note that Charleston boasts one hotspot for every 494 people. And there’s an exciting restaurant scene with a focus on fresh, inventive cooking. Photo via Xrayspx

Check out: Acclaimed restaurants FIG and Slightly North of Broad

2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna constantly ranks high for its quality of life. Why? To start, getting to work is a breeze, as Vienna has 4,500 stations serving commuters. Want to feel a bit like a royal? Vienna is one of the last European cities to hold carnival balls. It hosts about 450 per year, and anyone can attend. And have no fear, java lovers. Coffees in Vienna are legendary – the traditional coffee is two shots of espresso with whipped cream. What a way to start your day! Photo via Sedicia

Check out: the many more awesome reasons to live in Vienna

3. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne gets lots of love for its livability, too. Both great weather and an awesome coffee culture contribute to the city’s appeal, but it also has amazing healthcare, education and infrastructure. Let’s not forget its excellent food and wine, its growing arts scene, its diverse population and its reputation as the sporting capital of Australia. Photos via Y Travel Blog

Check Out: Lonely Planet’s top things to do in Melbourne 

4. Toronto, Canada

We couldn’t leave Canada out as an option. If fashion is your thing, Canadian clothing imports have increased 550 percent since the ’90s. Toronto is also the biggest design center in Canada, and the third-largest in North America, after New York and Boston. Photo via Gay Travel Herald

Check out: Time Out’s 20 Great Things to do in Toronto 

5. Auckland, New Zealand

If you don’t want to give up a big-city vibe, Auckland is one of the larger cities on this list. Between the North and the South Island that make up New Zealand, you’ll get a taste of everything your adventurous self has ever dreamed of: beaches, snow, whitewater rafting, skiing, bungee jumping and skydiving. And Kiwis are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Photo via Zealander Tours

Check out: A Dangerous Business, a blog with great info on New Zealand.

6. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is a charming, well-organized, Nordic capital. If you’re a travel fanatic, Helsinki’s waterfronts make other Eastern European cities very accessible. Interested in starting your own business? Helsinki has become a hot European start-up hub.  Winters might be a bit tough, but if you’re strong enough to brave them, bring on the Northern Lights, dog sledding and many other outdoorsy activities. Photo via Sergei Sigov

Check out: Juuri for some delicious Finnish food and the Champagne Bar for some bubbles. 

7.  Salt Lake City, Utah

Feeling on edge? This year, CNN/Money dubbed Salt Lake City the least stressed-out city in the United States, because of its low cost of living and an abundance of jobs.  If you ask us, the beautiful mountains that surround Salt Lake City contribute to the city’s calm demeanor, too. The city is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also has more religious and cultural diversity than you might have imagined. Photo via David Lyon

Check out: 134 things to do in Salt Lake City 

8. Syracuse, N.Y.

We think living in Manhattan is yesterday’s news, especially because Syracuse boasts a median house price of $87,500and the average rental price of a one-bedroom apartment is $655. With the cost-of-living index score coming in at 11 points below the national average, this city is a great place to live, to start a business, and to not go broke. If you’re a music fan, Syracuse has two annual outdoor jazz festivals, theM&T Syracuse Jazz Festival and the CNY’s Jazz In The Square Festival. For outdoors lovers, Syracuse has over 150 parks and plenty of hiking trails. Photo via Bill Badzo

Check out: The restaurants Darwins and Alto Cinco 

9. Grand Rapids, Mich.

When Lonely Planet dubbed Grand Rapids the No. 1 travel U.S. destination for 2104, we couldn’t help but notice. The area’s 25+ craft breweries earned Grand Rapids the title of best beer city in the U.S. from the Beer Examiner blog. Don’t like beer, but can’t live without art? Grand Rapids hosts the world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize, where more than 1,700 creatives showcase their work. Forbes named Grand Rapids the best city to raise a family and the fourth-easiest city to find a job. Photo via Kevin Povenz

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