These Cities Are a Minimalist's Heaven

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Adult woman using the oven in her caravan
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Living with Less

Go small, or go home. Downsizing your life is a hard decision, but where you choose to live can make it much more attainable. Living in a city that supports "urban minimalism" can offer the chance to make do with less while still having plenty of amenities. The rental listing service RentCafe took a look at what cities offer the best opportunities for living smaller. The ranking was based on these factors, amongst others: home size, because living in a smaller home means owning less; electricity bill as an indicator of natural resource use, and eco-friendly practices like biking, walking to work, and working from home. Here's where to go to live with less. 

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Downsizing Your Home

Richmond Skyline Aerial View

10. Richmond, Virginia

Over half of the homes in Richmond qualify as "small living," and there's less car usage and more walking than in many other cities. Richmond also scored high in the "sunshine" index, with 63%, meaning temperate weather contributes to leisurely outdoor activities. 

Related: Charming Tiny Home Communities Across America

Durham, North Carolina - Aerial View

9. Durham, N.C.

Durham is a popular area for college students and young professionals, but also for people who want to live simply.  Daily commute time is under 22 minutes, but working from home is popular as well. There's also plenty of outdoor space, with the 22-mile-long American Tobacco Trail that goes through downtown Durham. 

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

Des Moines Downtown Skyline

8. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines is becoming a popular city for younger minimalists, with affordable housing and living costs, plus a decent job market, particularly in  insurance, financial and publishing. Other pluses: The average monthly electricity bill is around $135, which is one of the cheapest among the cities analyzed. Additionally there's a huge 1,385 square feet of park space per capita.

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Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

7. New Orleans

It may seem like a city with a lot going on, but its moderate temperatures mean residents waste less power and money on air conditioning and heat. The average electric bill for residents hovers around $102, which is the second cheapest in the survey. 

Aerial view of Minneapolis and the Lowry Avenue bridge

6. Minneapolis

The larger of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis has much going for it, with 35 percent of residents working from home. Looking for a small home? Sixty-two percent of the inventory qualifies.

Skyline of downtown Atlanta Georgia USA at night

5. Atlanta

This city has a large number of work-from-home employees — nearly 40%. About half of residents use public transportation to commute. There are also plenty of small homes, with 60% having two bedrooms or fewer.

Bike Path

4. Madison, Wisconsin

Around 3% of Madison residents go to work by bike, which was the highest percentage for the cities analyzed. Additionally, 8% of people walk to work. More than half of the homes have two bedrooms or less, and there's plenty of public park space at 887 square feet per capita.

Saint Paul skyline in HDR

3. St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul has plenty of park space per capita – 787 square feet — to enjoy. About 55 percent of homes qualify as small homes, and commute time, for those who do go into the office, is a reasonable 21 minutes.

Washington, D.C. Cityscape

2. Arlington, Virginia

A good percentage of Arlington residents work from home, which means less need for a work wardrobe and commuting costs. Only 38% of residents use their car for daily commutes. There's also a good amount of small home availability, with almost 69% of the local housing stock made up of two bedrooms or less. There's 766 square feet of park space per capita, meaning residents can spend plenty of time simply enjoying nature.

Salt lake City, Utah

1. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City came in first place based on Google searches. The city ranks well for an active biking scene, small-home living options and a growing public transit network. The commute time is just under 18 minutes, making it third shortest among major cities. About 25 percent of residents work at home, and a high number of people walk to work, which makes the city a great place to live while driving less.

Related: 22 Cities Where You Can Live Car-Free