Located in Vermont, Burlington has a population of almost 43,000. It is the home of the University of Vermont, which is the largest employer in the area, as well as Champlain College and the UVM Medical Center, which is the second largest employer. It was the first American city to be powered completely by renewable sources.
While the economy is dominated by education and healthcare, tourism is also important. There are also several smaller companies such as G.S. Blodgett, General Electric, General Dynamic, Ben & Jerry’s, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
Tourists flock to the numerous annual festivals at the Church Street Marketplace, named one of America’s Great Public Spaces in 2008. There are also many art galleries and music venues.
Burlington also has the Fletcher Free Library, the largest in the state, several museums, a waterfront park, and a center for performing arts. It has many historic buildings including one of America’s oldest synagogues.
In terms of public-school education, Burlington is ranked 5th in the nation through the median salary in the city is below that for the United States in general.
Burlington is also very picturesque and surrounded by great natural beauty.
The atmosphere is fairly liberal, with many people biking for transportation and with large subsidies for housing, food, etc., for those in need. Unfortunately, these many programs are paid for by large property taxes. This makes the cost of living here quite high.
For example, while the median home price in Vermont as a whole is about $200,000, in Burlington it is 50% higher at $300,000. The nightly cost for a hotel room is about $80.
Portland, Maine, is larger than Burlington, having almost 70,000 residents. Similar to Burlington, it is prominent in the arts with a number of annual festivals and events.
Like Burlington, it is a very pretty town, with many parks and attractive architecture.
Unlike Burlington, however, the main employers in the city include financial service organizations such as Bank of America, with tourism a close second. As far as other industries, fishing and commercial shipping still play a factor in the local economy as the Port of Portland is the second largest in New England.
The cost of living in Portland is, like in Burlington, relatively high, with housing prices about 25% above the national average and utility prices about 17% higher. The median housing price in Portland is over $400,000. The nightly cost for a hotel room is about $95.
Bellingham is over twice as large as Burlington, with approximately 90,000 people. Like Burlington, it is a popular tourist destination.
Like Burlington, the two largest employers in the city are the medical center and university, in this case, the St. Joseph Medical Center and Western Washington University. Other employers include Zodiac Aerospace, which supplies aircraft equipment, and local financial institutions.
Bellingham, like Burlington, is a picturesque town surrounded by great natural beauty. It has a thriving arts scene, with art and music festivals as well as theater.
The cost of living is somewhat high for the state. The median home price is about $430,000 and a hotel room will be about $80 a night.
While Boulder has a population twice as large as Burlington’s, it shares many similarities with Vermont city. It is the home of the University of Colorado and receives high rankings when it comes to the arts, music, and education.
Like Burlington, Boulder is environmentally conscious and has many bike trails. This, along with the surrounding Rocky Mountains, makes Boulder quite picturesque
Similar to Burlington, both the University of Colorado and Denver Health are two of the largest employers in the city. However, in Boulder, the University of Colorado is the top employer, and health services come in fourth after Lockheed Martin and Western Union.
Unlike Burlington, tourism is not a major part of the Boulder economy.
The cost of living in Boulder is quite high. The median housing price is over $900,000. A hotel room will run about $130 a night.
With a population of close to 70,000 people, Asheville is about 70% larger than Burlington.
Unlike Burlington, Asheville does not have a university. However, like Burlington, the health care system is one of the largest employers. Tourism is a major part of the economy thanks to the Biltmore Estate and the thriving arts community.
There are music festivals and a tradition of street performance as well as many venues. There is also a renowned community theater, an opera company, and various museums and art centers.
While the cost of living in Asheville is high for North Carolina, it’s actually fairly reasonable when compared to the U.S. as a whole, with median housing prices at about $300K. A hotel room here will cost about $60 a night.
A pretty, scenic town of about 40,000 people, Amherst is home to the University of Amherst, which is the largest employer in the area. Similar to Burlington, Amherst is a mecca for art lovers with many museums, art houses, and so on. Unlike Burlington, the health care industry does not feature prominently in the economy.
Amherst has a great deal of historical interest as notables such as Emily Dickenson and Robert Frost made their homes here.
Unlike Burlington, the cost of living in Amherst is relatively low and the median housing price is lower than in the rest of the state at about $350K. A hotel room here will cost about $80.
Medford is a college town with a population of about 57,000 people. It is home to Tufts University.
Located on the Mystic River, it is a picturesque town and was the site of notable historic people and events such as Paul Revere’s midnight ride.
Tufts is the largest employer, which makes it similar to Burlington. Unlike Burlington, the health care industry is not particularly large. The service industry and banking, however, are large employers.
While Medford does have some galleries, studios, a theater, and a concert hall it is not as artsy as Burlington, nor does it have as much tourism.
The cost of living is higher than in the rest of Massachusetts, with median housing prices at almost $600K, about 50% higher than the rest of the state. A hotel room will run for about $120.
Home of Dartmouth, the charming town of Hanover is quite picturesque, located on the Connecticut River. It is quite a bit smaller than Burlington, having less than 12,000 people.
Despite its small size, it is a cultural center, with many art museums and galleries.
After the university, Hypertherm, a manufacturer of plasma cutters, is the largest employer. The cost of living here is quite high compared to the rest of the state, and housing is over twice as expensive, with median housing prices being close to $600K. A hotel room here costs about $80.
This tiny college town with a population of fewer than 9,000 people is home to Middlebury College as well as the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History.
It is an extremely picturesque town with many hiking and biking trails and is very environmentally conscious. Unlike Burlington, it does not have a huge arts scene. However, like Burlington, it has a large health care presence.
The cost of living is not particularly high – a median house will cost $240K, only a small amount above the rest of the state. A hotel room will cost close to $100 a night, however.
Home of Bowdoin College, Brunswick has a population about half that of Burlington at around 20,000 people. Like Burlington, it is a center for the arts, with several museums, an international music festival, and a theater. The town itself is pretty.
Similar to Burlington, the health care industry is one of the largest employers in Brunswick. Tourism is also a factor in the economy, though not to the degree it is in Burlington.
The cost of living is reasonable, with the median home price hovering near $270K. A hotel will cost about $80 a night.
Ithaca, NY has a population of about 30,000. It is located in the gorgeous Finger Lakes region.
While Cornell University is the largest employer, agriculture, technology, and tourism all factor into the economy. There are also many bookstores, art-house cinemas, craft stores, art galleries, and music venues.
Ithaca also has more restaurants per capita than New York City. One of the most famous is the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant.
Similar to Burlington, the health care industry is one of the larger employers.
The overall cost of living is quite reasonable for the state, with a median housing price of about $300K. Hotel rooms will be about $130.
With a population of about 80,000, Bloomington is twice as large as Burlington. It is the home of Indiana University. It is fairly pretty, being dubbed “the Tree City”.
The economy is diverse, with representation in the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and technology. There is not a large tourism industry, however, and the town is not noted for being artsy, unlike Burlington.
Like Burlington, however, the town is environmentally conscious with many bike paths.
The cost of living is reasonable, with the median house price at less than $200K, only slightly above the price in the rest of the state. A hotel room will run for about $90 a night.
Ann Arbor, MI
Similar to Burlington, the largest employer in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan. The second-largest employer is the health care system. Unlike Burlington, Ann Arbor is almost three times as populous with over 110,000 people.
Other employers are drawn to Ann Arbor by the university’s R&D dollars – these include companies in the high-tech and biotech areas as well as numerous medical offices and labs. Automobile manufacturers are also part of the local economy. Tourism is not a major factor, unlike in Burlington.
Like Burlington, Ann Arbor hosts a large variety of cultural events and venues, from the visual to the performing arts as well as many museums. There is an annual Shakespeare performance, a symphony, two ballet companies, and an opera company as well as installation art throughout the downtown area.
The town is reasonably pretty, though not as picturesque as Burlington. The cost of living is quite high compared to the rest of the state, with median housing at almost $400K. A hotel room will cost about $90.
Eau Claire, WI
With a population of almost 70,000, Eau Claire is larger than Burlington. It is the home of the University of Wisconsin.
Unlike Burlington, the university is not the largest employer. Similar to Burlington, the health care system, in this case, the Mayo Clinic, is the second-largest employer while Menards is the largest.
Like Burlington, Eau Claire is a cultural mecca. There are many annual music festivals as well as amateur and community theaters. There are also many museums. Unlike Burlington, sports are prominent.
There are also numerous parks and recreation areas which add to the beauty of the town.
Unlike Burlington, the cost of living in Eau Claire is lower than the rest of Wisconsin, with median housing prices around $167K. Hotels are more expensive, however, running about $150 per night.
Home of Princeton University, Princeton has a population of almost 30,000 people. As in Burlington, the university is the town’s largest employer. Unlike Burlington, the next largest employer is a pharmaceutical company, Briston-Meyers Squibb.
Unlike Burlington, Princeton is not known as a tourist destination, nor does it have a broad arts community. It does, however, feature many historic sites and notable figures.
It is a reasonably attractive town, though not as picturesque as Burlington. The cost of living is significantly higher than elsewhere in the state, which median housing prices of $900K being three times that of New Jersey as a whole. Hotel rooms will run about $100 a night.
Considered one of the most beautiful cities, Savannah has a population of about 145,000. It has a large tourism industry, attracting millions of visitors each year to its historic sites.
These include the birthplace of the founder of the Girl Scouts USA, the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African-American congregations), the country’s third oldest synagogue, and a Victorian Historic district.
It is rich in music and performance arts, with a Jazz company, orchestra, philharmonic, various youth ensembles, and an annual music festival. There is a ballet company, a number of theater groups, and an annual book festival.
Savannah boasts several colleges and universities, but its largest employers are International Paper, Gulfstream Aerospace, TitleMax, and Morris Multimedia.
The cost of living is lower in Savannah than in the state as a whole, with median home prices of about $130K. The cost of a hotel room is about $65 a night.