10 Best Places to Live in the Southeast

by Flora Backup
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Considering a move to the Southeast? From vibrant urban hubs to serene coastal towns, I’ve explored it all. Join me as we uncover ten of the best places to live in the Southeast. Let’s find your perfect Southeastern haven together!

The Southeast is a region rich in culture, history, and undeniable charm. From the jazz-filled streets of New Orleans to the historic charm of Charleston, each city and town offers its own unique allure. Every time I visit the Southeast, I’m struck by its unique charm. It’s like a blend of old-world traditions with a dash of the new and exciting. For me, each trip feels like revisiting an old favorite book, but with new chapters to explore.

Wake up to the calming waves of St. Augustine or enjoy the bustling energy of Nashville’s skyline. Here, the past and present coexist, offering a blend of experiences that cater to both the adventurer and the homebody.

For those seeking a fresh start or a new adventure, the Southeast holds endless possibilities. Whether you’re considering relocating for work, family, or simply a change of scenery, trust that there’s a place in this region that feels just right for you. Dive into our carefully curated list of the best places to live in the Southeast US and discover the magic and potential of this diverse region.

The best places to live in the Southeast right now
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Best Places to Live in the Southeast

Considering moving to the Southeast? Here’s a snapshot to guide your decision:

  • Best for Music and Entertainment: Nashville, TN
  • Best for History and Culture: St. Augustine, FL
  • Best for City Living: Atlanta, GA
  • Best for Coastal Living: Charleston, SC
  • Best for Quaint Coastal Vibes: Ocean Springs, MS
  • Best for Tech and Innovation: Huntsville, AL
  • Best for Cultural Diversity: New Orleans, LA
  • Best for Mountain Views and Outdoor Activities: Asheville, NC
  • Best for Food Lovers: Savannah, GA
  • Best for a Thriving Downtown Scene: Greenville, SC

Wondering what sets each of these Southeast US destinations apart for potential movers? Let’s delve deeper!

1. New Orleans, LA

Ah, New Orleans. Where do I even begin? This city is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and flavors. Without a doubt, New Orleans is one of the most unique places not just in the Southeast, but in the entire US. If you’re considering a move and crave a place bursting with life, music, and history, then the Crescent City might just be calling your name.

Walking through the French Quarter feels like stepping back in time. The historic architecture, with its intricate ironwork and pastel-colored facades, tells tales of centuries past. And then there’s the music. From the soulful tunes of jazz to the energetic beats of brass bands, music is the heartbeat of this city. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon impromptu street performances that make you feel like dancing right there on the sidewalk.

When choosing a Southeastern destination, New Orleans blends old-world charm with modern comforts for a well-rounded experience.
When choosing a Southeastern destination, New Orleans blends old-world charm with modern comforts for a well-rounded experience.

Foodies will be in heaven here. The culinary scene in New Orleans is a delightful fusion of French, African, Spanish, and Creole influences. From beignets dusted with powdered sugar to spicy jambalaya, every dish is a celebration of flavors. There are plenty of unique restaurants in New Orleans to explore, meaning you’ll constantly explore the best flavors in town.

New Orleans is a city that’s constantly evolving and embracing the new while honoring its rich heritage. The arts scene is thriving, with galleries, theaters, and festivals showcasing local talent and creativity.

For those deciding where to move in the Southeast, New Orleans offers a blend of old-world charm with modern amenities. It’s an ideal place for both families and singles. The community is tight-knit, and there’s a sense of camaraderie that’s hard to find elsewhere.

2. Nashville, TN

Whenever I think of Nashville, the strumming of a guitar and the soulful voice of a country singer immediately come to mind. Often dubbed the “Music City,” Nashville is the beating heart of the country music world. It’s not just about the country, though. This city is a haven for all things musical.

Strolling down Broadway, it’s hard not to get swept up in the energy. Neon signs light up the street, and the sound of live music pours out from every honky-tonk bar. Whether you’re a fan of the classics or more into the contemporary scene, there’s a rhythm in Nashville that speaks to every soul.

For those considering the Southeast's best cities to live in, Nashville offers more than just entertainment.
For those considering the Southeast’s best cities to live in, Nashville offers more than just entertainment.

Aside from the music, Nashville has an incredible arts and food scene. The city is dotted with art galleries, theaters, and some of the best restaurants in the Southeast. And let’s not forget about the hot chicken – it’s a must-try for anyone passing through!

For those wondering about the best cities to live in the Southeast, Nashville offers more than just entertainment. Nashville is home to neighborhoods that cater to every lifestyle, renowned educational institutions and booming tech and healthcare industries. From the historic charm of East Nashville to the modern condos of The Gulch, there’s a place for everyone.

What I personally love about Nashville is its ability to blend the traditional with the new. It’s a city that respects its roots while eagerly looking forward to the future. If you’re seeking a dynamic, culturally rich place to call home, Nashville might just be the tune you’ve been searching for.

3. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta has always struck me as a city of contrasts and harmonies. It’s where the charm of the South meets the dynamism of a major urban hub. If you’re drawn to the hustle and bustle of city life but still yearn for those pockets of greenery and history, then Atlanta might just be the place you’ve been dreaming of.

Downtown Atlanta is a testament to modernity. Sleek skyscrapers touch the sky, and the streets are alive with activity. From the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium to the vibrant nightlife in Midtown, there’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. For history lovers, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site offers a profound journey into the nation’s civil rights movement.

Atlanta effortlessly fuses urban living with the South's renowned warmth and hospitality.
Atlanta effortlessly fuses urban living with the South’s renowned warmth and hospitality.

Venture outside of the city center, and you’ll discover neighborhoods like Inman Park, where tree-lined streets and historic homes offer a tranquil escape from the city’s pace. And for those who love to shop, the upscale Buckhead district is a paradise of boutiques and high-end stores.

One of the things I appreciate most about Atlanta is its commitment to growth and innovation. It’s a hub for businesses, tech startups, and film production, offering a plethora of opportunities for professionals. As such, it’s one of the best places to live in the Southeast for young people and entrepreneurs.

For those mulling over a move, Atlanta seamlessly blends the best of urban living with the warmth and hospitality the South is known for. Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or someone seeking the next big adventure, Atlanta beckons with promise and potential.

4. St. Augustine, FL

Every time I set foot in St. Augustine, I’m transported to a different era. As the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental US, this city is a living museum. What’s more, St. Augustine offers a blend of coastal beauty and modern conveniences that make it an attractive destination for those considering moving to Florida.

The historic downtown, with its narrow cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture, proudly showcases the city’s storied past. From the iconic Castillo de San Marcos to the Lightner Museum, there’s a wealth of cultural treasures to explore.

St. Augustine combines historical charm with contemporary living, creating a unique blend.
St. Augustine combines historical charm with contemporary living, creating a unique blend.

Now, let’s talk practicalities. One of the appealing aspects of St. Augustine is its relatively affordable cost of living compared to other coastal cities in Florida. Housing, while varied, offers options for both renters and buyers, with median home prices that are often more accessible than in larger metropolitan areas.

Transport-wise, the city is well-connected. While having a car can be beneficial for exploring the broader region, the downtown area is highly walkable. Jacksonville International Airport is just an hour’s drive away, offering a gateway to both domestic and international destinations.

For families, St. Augustine boasts a range of educational institutions. These range from the historic Flagler College to a variety of public and private schools. And let’s not forget the beaches. They’re pristine, uncrowded, and perfect for weekend relaxation.

Overall, St. Augustine offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern living. Whether you’re drawn to its cultural heritage or the practical benefits of life in a smaller city, St. Augustine is a gem waiting to be discovered and one of the best areas to live in the Southeast.

5. Greenville, SC

When I chat with folks about the coolest places in the Southeast, Greenville often pops up in the conversation. It is one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ foothills, Greenville has evolved from a sleepy textile town to a lively urban hub. It’s got that magnetic pull for anyone seeking a vibrant downtown without the overwhelming buzz of a massive city.

Downtown Greenville is a treat. Main Street, with its cozy cafes, quirky shops, and art spots, is the kind of place where you can lose track of time. And then there’s Falls Park on the Reedy – a slice of tranquility right in the city’s heart, complete with waterfalls and the show-stealing Liberty Bridge.

In discussions about the Southeast's top spots, Greenville frequently emerges as a standout.
In discussions about the Southeast’s top spots, Greenville frequently emerges as a standout.

A stone’s throw away from Greenville, you’ve got Paris Mountain State Park. One of my favorite state parks in the US, it’s the perfect spot for spontaneous hiking or picnic plans. There’s even a lake to swim in for those warmer days.

On the practical side, Greenville’s growth isn’t just in its downtown scene. The city has been making waves in sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, and education. As such, it’s a hotspot for career opportunities. If community vibes are your thing, Greenville’s got you covered. From artsy festivals to those can’t-miss food truck rallies, there are always things to do in Greenville that bring folks together.

So, if you’re scouting for a spot in the Southeast that’s got the best of city life with a dash of nature, give Greenville a closer look. Trust me, it’s worth it!

6. Ocean Springs, MS

Next up on our list of the best places to live in Southeast US is Ocean Springs. Nestled on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this coastal gem feels like a well-kept secret. With its artsy ambiance, welcoming locals, and sun-kissed beaches, it’s the perfect place to live in the Southeast for those craving a more relaxed pace of life.

Downtown Ocean Springs is a delightful blend of quaint boutiques, art galleries, and snug cafes. The town’s artistic heritage shines through, from the Walter Anderson Museum of Art to the vibrant art festivals that dot the calendar.

If you're looking for a Southeastern haven seamlessly blending artistry, natural beauty, and urban access, Ocean Springs should be on your list.
If you’re looking for a Southeastern haven seamlessly blending artistry, natural beauty, and urban access, Ocean Springs should be on your list.

Moreover, its strategic location offers the best of both worlds. While it retains its small-town charm, it’s just a short drive away from larger cities like Biloxi and Gulfport, providing easy access to urban amenities when needed. Plus, with major highways nearby and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport not too far off, connectivity is a breeze.

Nature lovers will appreciate the town’s natural beauty. Front Beach beckons with its sandy shores, while the Gulf Islands National Seashore offers untouched barrier islands to wander. And for those with an adventurous spirit, the bayous and marshes are perfect for kayaking.

Community-wise, Ocean Springs is a standout. From music festivals to farmers’ markets, there’s a palpable sense of togetherness. Don’t forget to try the local seafood, especially the fresh Gulf shrimp and oysters. Trust me, it’s a treat!

Wrapping it up, if you’ve been on the hunt for a Southeastern haven that effortlessly blends artistic flair, natural beauty, and easy access to urban hubs, Ocean Springs should definitely be on your radar!

7. Huntsville, AL

Huntsville, often dubbed “Rocket City” due to its deep ties with the U.S. space missions, is a rising star in the Southeast. Over the years, Huntsville has transformed into a hub for tech, innovation, and research. Consequently, it’s a top pick for professionals in STEM fields wondering where to live in the Southeast.

So, why should someone consider Huntsville? For starters, the city is home to the Cummings Research Park. This is the second-largest research park in the U.S. and fourth-largest in the world. Companies ranging from aerospace giants to budding startups have set up shop here, offering a plethora of job opportunities. If you’re an engineer, scientist, or tech enthusiast, Huntsville is where you can truly thrive.

For those seeking career growth without sacrificing quality of life, Huntsville is your ideal destination.
For those seeking career growth without sacrificing quality of life, Huntsville is your ideal destination.

But it’s not all work and no play. Huntsville boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a must-visit, and the city’s downtown offers a mix of historic charm, trendy eateries, and entertainment venues. The Monte Sano State Park provides a natural escape with hiking trails and panoramic views.

Practically speaking, Huntsville offers a lower cost of living compared to other tech hubs. Housing is more affordable, and the city has invested in infrastructure and public amenities. Families will appreciate the quality of schools and the range of recreational activities available.

For young professionals, Huntsville presents a unique proposition: a city that’s forward-thinking and innovative, yet grounded in its rich history and Southern hospitality. If you’re seeking a place that offers career growth without compromising on quality of life, Huntsville is your next big move.

8. Charleston, SC

When people ask me about the best places to live in Southeast US, Charleston always tops my list. This city, with its blend of history and coastal elegance, feels like a dream. It’s a place where Southern charm meets modern vibrancy, which makes it a favorite for both young people and digital nomads looking for the next best spot in the Southeast.

Wandering through the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter, it’s easy to see why it’s often considered one of the Southeast’s best cities. Grand mansions, lush gardens, and ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss paint a picture of a bygone era. Yet, Charleston isn’t just about the past. The city is buzzing with modern energy, from its thriving culinary scene to its bustling markets and festivals.

Charleston offers top schools and a thriving job market, making it a best place to live in the Southeast US.
Charleston offers top schools and a thriving job market, making it a best place to live in the Southeast US.

For those contemplating moving to the Southeast, Charleston offers practical benefits too. Housing options cater to various budgets, and the city’s public transportation system, CARTA, ensures easy mobility. Plus, with beaches like Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island nearby, it’s a haven for those who love the sea.

With top-notch schools and a thriving job market in tech, healthcare, and tourism, it’s no wonder many consider Charleston as one of the best cities to live in Southeast US. Whether you’re a young professional, a digital nomad, or someone seeking a blend of the old and new, Charleston beckons with its unique charm.

9. Asheville, NC

No list of the best places to live in the Southeast would be complete without mentioning Asheville. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this city is a paradise for those with a creative spirit and a love for the great outdoors. It’s no wonder many consider it one of the Southeast US’s best cities for a harmonious blend of culture and nature.

Asheville’s downtown boasts an array of art galleries, music venues, and eclectic boutiques. The city has a rich artistic heritage, with events like the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival and the Downtown Asheville Art Walk showcasing local talent. If you’re an artist, musician, or simply someone who appreciates creativity, Asheville is a place where you’ll feel right at home.

Thinking of living in the Southeast? Asheville makes a compelling argument.
Thinking of living in the Southeast? Asheville makes a compelling argument.

The city’s charm doesn’t stop at its artsy vibe, though. Asheville is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Southeast. Whether you’re hiking the trails of the Pisgah National Forest or driving the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, nature’s beauty is always within reach.

On the practical side, Asheville offers a diverse range of living options, from historic homes to modern apartments. The city has been experiencing growth in sectors like healthcare, education, and tourism. This makes it a promising spot for career opportunities.

Contemplating moving to the Southeast? Asheville presents a compelling case. It’s a city that celebrates individuality, creativity, and the wonders of the natural world. If you’re seeking a place that resonates with your artistic soul and offers endless outdoor adventures, Asheville should be high on your list.

10. St. Petersburg, FL

There’s something undeniably magnetic about St. Petersburg. Maybe it’s the way the city effortlessly straddles the line between a buzzing metropolis and a serene beach town. Or perhaps it’s the eclectic mix of people, from artists to entrepreneurs, who call this place home.

One of my most vivid memories of St. Pete is discovering the Central Arts District. This part of the city is a canvas, with street art that tells tales of the city’s soul, spirit, and spunk. And then there’s the Salvador Dali Museum, an architectural marvel that houses one of the most impressive collections of the surrealist’s work.

St. Pete is a top places to live in the Southeast for your consideration
St. Pete is a top places to live in the Southeast for your consideration

Furthermore, the Edge District beckons with its craft breweries, vintage shops, and indie eateries. It’s the kind of place where every visit feels like a new adventure.

Of course, no mention of St. Pete is complete without a nod to its beaches. Imagine trading your work shoes for flip-flops on a Friday evening and watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. That’s the St. Pete lifestyle!

For those thinking of planting roots here, the city offers a dynamic job market. This is especially evident in the realms of healthcare, marine sciences, and tech startups. On the practical side, St. Petersburg boasts a well-connected public transportation system. As such, commuting is a breeze. The city also offers a range of housing options, from waterfront condos to charming bungalows, catering to various budgets and lifestyles.

In St. Petersburg, life feels like an endless summer with a splash of urban sophistication. If you’re yearning for a place that celebrates individuality and embraces the sun, sea, and city vibes, St. Pete is perhaps the best place in the Southeast to live that you need to consider!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Places to Live in the Southeast

Do you have further queries about where to live in the Southeast? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the Southeast’s best cities and areas.

Where are the safest places to live in the Southeast United States?

Cities like Greenville, SC, and Huntsville, AL, consistently rank high for safety due to their low crime rates and community-focused initiatives. Additionally, smaller towns like Ocean Springs, MS, and St. Augustine, FL, offer a tight-knit community feel, further enhancing their safety appeal. However, it’s always a good idea to check the latest crime statistics and speak to locals when considering moving to Southeast US.

What is the best southern state to live in?

The “best” southern state often depends on individual preferences. For those seeking a mix of urban life and nature, Georgia, home to Atlanta, offers a dynamic blend. Tennessee, with cities like Nashville, is perfect for music lovers. Florida, boasting places like St. Petersburg, is ideal for those who love the coast. And for a touch of history combined with modern charm, South Carolina, featuring cities like Charleston, is hard to beat. Ultimately, the best places for young people to live in Southeast US or the best places for digital nomads in Southeast US might vary based on personal and professional needs.

Are there any downsides to living in the Southeast?

Living in the Southeastern region of the United States has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some potential downsides to living in the Southeast:

  1. Climate and Weather:
    • Heat and Humidity: The Southeast is known for its hot and humid summers, which can be uncomfortable for those not accustomed to such conditions.
    • Hurricanes: Coastal areas, especially in states like Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, are susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms.
    • Tornadoes: Certain parts of the Southeast, especially in the inland areas, are prone to tornadoes.
  1. Pests: The warm and humid climate can lead to issues with pests such as mosquitoes, ticks, and cockroaches.
  2. Allergies: The Southeast has a high pollen count, especially in the spring, which can be challenging for allergy sufferers.
  3. Infrastructure and Public Transportation: Some areas, especially rural ones, may lack advanced infrastructure and have limited public transportation options.
  4. Cultural Differences: While the Southeast is rich in culture and history, it can also be more conservative in certain areas. This might be a downside for those with more progressive views.
  5. Education: The quality of education can vary widely. Some states in the Southeast rank lower in education metrics compared to other parts of the U.S.
  6. Natural Disasters: Apart from hurricanes and tornadoes, the Southeast is also susceptible to flooding, especially in low-lying areas.
  7. Traffic: Major cities like Atlanta are notorious for traffic congestion.
  8. Growth and Development: Rapid growth in certain areas has led to concerns about overdevelopment, loss of green spaces, and increased cost of living.
Living in the Southeast, similar to any nation, presents its unique advantages and challenges.
Living in the Southeast, similar to any nation, presents its unique advantages and challenges.

What are the top #3 best cities in the Southeast?

While the definition of “best” is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences, here are three cities in the Southeast that are often recognized for their appeal:

  1. Nashville, Tennessee:
    • Music Capital: Known as “Music City,” Nashville is the heart of the country music industry, with iconic venues like the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame
    • Cultural Scene: Beyond music, Nashville offers a vibrant arts scene, historic sites, and a growing culinary landscape.
    • Economic Growth: Nashville has seen significant economic growth, with a booming job market in sectors like healthcare, education, and technology.
  1. Charleston, South Carolina:
    • Historic Charm: Charleston is renowned for its well-preserved historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and antebellum homes.
    • Coastal Beauty: Located on the coast, Charleston offers beautiful beaches and water activities.
    • Culinary Delights: The city is known for its Southern cuisine, seafood, and an array of top-notch restaurants and eateries.
  1. Atlanta, Georgia:
    • Economic Hub: As one of the largest cities in the Southeast, Atlanta is a major economic and cultural center, home to numerous Fortune 500 companies.
    • Cultural Attractions: Atlanta offers a mix of history (Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site), arts (Fox Theatre, High Museum of Art), and entertainment (Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola).
    • Diverse Population: The city boasts a diverse population, leading to a rich tapestry of cultures, cuisines, and communities.

What should I know before moving to the Southeast?

Before moving to Southeast US, it’s essential to understand the region’s diverse culture and climate. The Southeast is known for its warm hospitality, history, and a blend of urban and rural landscapes. The climate is generally humid subtropical, with mild winters and hot summers. Additionally, the cost of living can be more affordable than in other parts of the US, but this varies by city and state. It’s also worth noting that the Southeast is a hub for various industries, from tech in places like Huntsville to tourism in cities like St. Augustine.

Does the Southeast have any beautiful national parks?

Absolutely! The Southeast is home to some of the best national parks in the US. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, is the most visited national park in the US. It’s known for its mist-covered mountains and diverse wildlife. Florida’s Everglades National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a unique ecosystem with a vast array of wildlife. These parks, among others, make the Southeast a dream destination for nature lovers considering where to live in the Southeast US.

Concluding Thoughts on the Southeast’s Best Places to Live

You know, every time someone asks me about the Southeast, I can’t help but get a bit nostalgic. I’ve had my fair share of road trips through Nashville’s music-filled streets and lazy beach days in St. Petersburg. And let me tell you, if you’re thinking of packing up and finding a new place to call home, the Southeast has got some serious contenders.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to the artsy vibes of Asheville or the tech buzz in Huntsville? If you’re anything like me, the idea of having both city life and nature right at your doorstep is pretty appealing. Trust me on this one – if you’re on the fence about moving, the Southeast might just tip the scales for you. It’s not just about finding a house; it’s about finding that perfect spot where you feel right at home.

The best places to live in the Southeast for all types of travelers
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