12 Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Quality of Life

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated December 24, 2023 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jem
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Kentucky is more than just a state; it’s a way of living. From its rolling bluegrass hills to its historic bourbon distilleries and vibrant cities, the Bluegrass State offers a rich tapestry of experiences and settings. But given its diverse offerings, settling on the perfect place to call home can be a challenge. To assist you in your quest, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in Kentucky.

I’ve roamed Kentucky from corner to corner over the years, and I can vouch for its incredible variety and charm. From the scenic wonders of the Appalachian Mountains to the horse farms of Lexington, and from the bustling energy of Louisville to the tranquil beauty of Kentucky Lake, the state’s diversity is truly captivating. Whether you’re enticed by the history of the Civil War trails, the craftsmanship of the bourbon industry, or the lively arts scene in cities like Covington, there’s a slice of Kentucky that’s tailor-made for you.

So, where should you begin? The perfect spot is different for everyone. Some may prioritize proximity to nature, others may seek out excellent educational facilities, and for many, the cost of living will be the ultimate deciding factor.

Join me as I delve into the top cities to make your home, based on what matters most to you. Having experienced the beauty of Kentucky, I’m here to guide you through its best living options. I’ve pored over research, analyzed statistics, and engaged with locals to create a list that accommodates every lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Kentucky for all

The Best Places to Live in Kentucky      

Eager to explore the most enchanting places to call home in Kentucky? Situated in the heartland of America, the Bluegrass State has something for everyone. Continue reading to uncover the top places to live in Kentucky.

Searching for your ideal home in Kentucky? No matter what you have in mind, Kentucky’s diverse locales have got you covered.

  • Best for suburban charm: Bellevue
  • Best for college town vibes: Bowling Green
  • Best for riverside living: Covington
  • Best for family life: Edgewood
  • Best for historic neighborhoods: Fort Thomas
  • Best for state capital amenities: Frankfort
  • Best for community events: FT Mitchell
  • Best for equestrian enthusiasts: Lexington
  • Best for urban explorers: Louisville
  • Best for barbecue lovers: Owensboro
  • Best for scenic beauty: Villa Hills
  • Best for small-town feel: Wilmore

Here are all the prime spots in the state that you should definitely consider:

1. Bellevue

Imagine waking up to the serene views of the Ohio River every morning. That’s daily life in Bellevue, a town that combines natural beauty with historic charm. With its 19th-century architecture and boutique shops, Bellevue is one of the best places to live in Kentucky. The town’s streets are perfect for leisurely strolls, offering an array of cozy cafes and artisanal stores.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find Bellevue to be a haven. The town’s waterfront parks are a major draw, offering a plethora of activities from kayaking to picnicking. Families and young professionals alike find the town’s amenities and community spirit irresistible. The local farmers’ market is a weekend favorite, offering fresh produce and handmade crafts.

Art and culture are integral to Bellevue’s identity. Frequent art fairs and exhibitions keep the community engaged and offer a platform for local talent. With its balanced lifestyle and vibrant community, it’s no surprise that Bellevue is considered one of Kentucky’s best cities to live.

Bellevue. one of the best places to live in Kentucky, blends old world charm with scenic natural beauty.
Bellevue. one of the best places to live in Kentucky, blends old world charm with scenic natural beauty.

2. Bowling Green

Step into a world where youthful energy meets rich history. Bowling Green, home to Western Kentucky University, is a city that never sleeps. From late-night eateries to vibrant street art, it’s one of the coolest places to live in Kentucky. The city is a hub for automotive enthusiasts, being the birthplace of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette. The National Corvette Museum is a must-visit, offering a deep dive into the car’s storied past.

When it comes to dining and entertainment, Bowling Green doesn’t disappoint. A plethora of international cuisines and live music venues keep the city buzzing. Whether you’re a foodie or a culture vulture, there’s something for everyone here. The city’s culinary scene is a blend of traditional Southern fare and modern international options, making it a gastronomic delight.

The city’s green spaces are its hidden gems, offering a tranquil escape from the urban hustle. Residents take pride in their well-maintained parks and community gardens. With its diverse amenities and vibrant culture, it’s easy to see why Bowling Green ranks among Kentucky’s best cities to live, providing a balanced lifestyle that caters to diverse interests.

The city of Bowling Green never sleeps. From bright street art to restaurants open late.
The city of Bowling Green never sleeps. From bright street art to restaurants open late.

3. Covington

Picture a city where the skyline is punctuated by historic spires and modern skyscrapers. Welcome to Covington, a city that effortlessly blends the old with the new. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Cincinnati, it’s one of the best places in Kentucky to live. The city’s architecture is a visual feast, featuring a mix of Gothic, Victorian, and modern designs that capture the essence of its rich history.

Covington is a food lover’s paradise. From craft breweries to gourmet bistros, the culinary scene here is diverse and ever-evolving. It’s a place where you can sip on locally brewed beer one minute and enjoy a five-course meal the next. The Roebling Point District is a hotspot for food and entertainment, offering a range of options that cater to all tastes.

Safety and affordability are Covington’s strong suits. The city offers a range of housing options that won’t break the bank, making it a popular choice for young families. With its low cost of living and high quality of life, Covington stands out as a nice city to live in Kentucky. The city’s public transport system is efficient, making it easy to explore the area without a car.

Imagine a metropolis where both contemporary skyscrapers and old spires break up the skyline.
Imagine a metropolis where both contemporary skyscrapers and old spires break up the skyline.

4. Edgewood

When it comes to suburban tranquility, Edgewood takes the cake. This charming town is a sanctuary for families, offering top-rated schools and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities. It’s undeniably one of the best places to live in Kentucky, especially if you’re looking for a community that values education and well-being.

The town is more than just a residential haven; it’s a hub for outdoor activities. Parks are aplenty, each offering unique amenities from hiking trails to children’s playgrounds. Residents often spend weekends exploring the natural beauty that Edgewood has to offer. The Freedom Park is a local favorite, featuring a lake for fishing, lake house rentals, and ample space for picnics.

What sets Edgewood apart is its sense of community. Neighbors know each other by name, and it’s common to see families gathering for community events or weekend barbecues. With its warm atmosphere and excellent amenities, Edgewood is a great place to live in Kentucky. The town also boasts a low crime rate, adding an extra layer of comfort for its residents.

Edgewood is unmatched for suburban peace and quiet.
Edgewood is unmatched for suburban peace and quiet. | Image Credit: edgewoodky

5. Fort Thomas

Perched atop rolling hills overlooking the Ohio River, Fort Thomas is a picturesque town that exudes charm at every turn. With its rich military history, the area is dotted with landmarks and museums that offer a glimpse into its storied past. It’s the perfect place to live in for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

The town is not just about history; it’s a hub for outdoor activities. From hiking trails to well-maintained parks, Fort Thomas offers a plethora of options for those looking to stay active. Tower Park is a local gem, featuring a military museum, an amphitheater, and several sports facilities. It’s a place where residents can enjoy a variety of recreational activities year-round.

Community spirit runs high in Fort Thomas. The town hosts several annual events, from summer concerts to holiday parades, fostering a strong sense of community. With its excellent school system and low crime rate, Fort Thomas stands out as the best area to live in Kentucky. The town’s public library is a cultural hub, offering a range of programs and services that cater to all age groups.

The charming town of Fort Thomas is a sight to behold.
The charming town of Fort Thomas is a sight to behold.

6. Frankfort

Step back in time as you explore Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital city. Rich in history and political significance, Frankfort offers a unique blend of past and present. As the seat of state government, it’s the best place to live in Kentucky for those interested in politics and history. The city is home to the Kentucky State Capitol, an architectural marvel that’s worth a visit.

But Frankfort isn’t just for the politically inclined. The city boasts a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and live music venues that cater to a variety of tastes. The Grand Theatre is a cultural landmark, hosting everything from classical concerts to contemporary art exhibitions.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love about Frankfort. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, from the meandering Kentucky River to the lush Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s the best city to live in Kentucky for those who appreciate the great outdoors. The Salato Wildlife Education Center is a must-visit, offering interactive exhibits and walking trails.

Step back in time as you explore Frankfort, Kentucky's capital city.
Step back in time as you explore Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital city.

7. FT Mitchell

Discover a slice of suburban paradise in FT Mitchell. This town offers a laid-back lifestyle while being conveniently close to the bustling city of Cincinnati. It’s one of Kentucky’s best places to live in, particularly for those who want the best of both worlds. The town is known for its excellent school system, making it a top choice for families.

FT Mitchell is a haven for foodies. The culinary scene here is diverse, featuring everything from gourmet restaurants to charming cafes. Local eateries often source their ingredients from nearby farms, ensuring fresh and flavorful dishes. It’s one of the good places to live in Kentucky if you appreciate farm-to-table dining experiences.

Safety is a top priority in FT Mitchell. The town has a low crime rate and offers a variety of community programs aimed at keeping residents safe. The local police department is highly responsive, adding an extra layer of security to this already peaceful town. With its strong sense of community and excellent amenities, FT Mitchell is a place where residents can truly feel at home.

In FT Mitchell is a little piece of suburban bliss, one of the best places to live in Kentucky.
In FT Mitchell is a little piece of suburban bliss, one of the best places to live in Kentucky.

8. Lexington

Known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Lexington is a city that lives and breathes equestrian culture. With its sprawling horse farms and world-class racetracks, this place is recommended for equine enthusiasts. The Kentucky Horse Park is a must-visit, offering a comprehensive look into the world of thoroughbreds.

But Lexington is more than just horses. The city boasts a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and live music venues. The Lexington Opera House is a cultural landmark, hosting a variety of performances from ballet to Broadway shows. It’s among the best areas to live in Kentucky for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Lexington also excels in education. Home to the University of Kentucky, the city offers a range of educational opportunities, from top-rated public schools to higher education institutions. The city’s public library system is extensive, providing a wealth of resources for lifelong learning. With its blend of culture, education, and outdoor activities, Lexington offers a balanced lifestyle that’s hard to beat.

Famous for its equestrian culture, Lexington is one of the best places to live in Kentucky.
Famous for its equestrian culture, Lexington is one of the best places to live in Kentucky.

9. Louisville

Welcome to the city that’s synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, and baseball. Louisville is a vibrant metropolis that offers a unique blend of Southern hospitality and urban sophistication. It’s one of the best places to live in Kentucky, especially if you’re a fan of sports and spirits. The Louisville Mega Cavern is a local favorite, offering underground zip-lining for the adventurous at heart.

The city’s culinary scene is a gastronomic delight. From traditional Southern comfort food to international cuisines, Louisville has it all. The NuLu district is a hotspot for foodies, featuring an array of artisanal shops and gourmet restaurants. It’s among the best cities to live in Kentucky if you have a diverse palate.

Louisville is also a hub for arts and culture. The city is home to several museums, art galleries, and theaters that cater to a variety of interests. The Louisville Waterfront Park is a scenic spot that hosts numerous events and concerts throughout the year. With its rich cultural heritage and diverse amenities, Louisville offers something for everyone.

Louisville one of the best places to live in KY is thriving city that provides a distinctive fusion of metropolitan sophistication and Southern charm.
Louisville one of the best places to live in KY is thriving city that provides a distinctive fusion of metropolitan sophistication and Southern charm.

10. Owensboro

Nestled along the southern banks of the Ohio River, Owensboro is a city that’s steeped in tradition yet buzzing with modern energy. Known as the “BBQ Capital of the World,” it’s the perfect home for food lovers. The city’s annual International Bar-B-Q Festival is a culinary extravaganza that attracts visitors from all over the country.

But Owensboro offers more than just mouth-watering barbecue. The city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting an array of parks, walking trails, and water activities. Smothers Park is a local gem, featuring a playground, water features, and stunning river views. It’s the best area to live in Kentucky for those who appreciate the beauty of nature.

The city also has a rich cultural scene. The RiverPark Center is a hub for the arts, hosting everything from Broadway shows to classical concerts. Owensboro’s downtown area is a blend of historic architecture and modern amenities, offering a range of shopping and dining options. With its strong sense of community and diverse offerings, Owensboro is a city that truly has something for everyone.

The city of Owensboro is vibrant with contemporary vitality while also deeply rooted in heritage.
The city of Owensboro is vibrant with contemporary vitality while also deeply rooted in heritage.

11. Villa Hills

Imagine living in a place where you’re surrounded by lush greenery and scenic river views. Villa Hills offers just that, making it one of the best places to live in Kentucky for nature lovers. The town is situated along the Ohio River, providing residents with ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and riverside picnics.

Villa Hills is more than just a pretty face; it’s a community that values education and safety. The town’s schools are highly rated, and community programs are abundant, making it a good place to live in Kentucky for families. The Villa Hills Civic Club is a cornerstone of the community, organizing events that range from charity fundraisers to seasonal festivals.

What sets Villa Hills apart is its commitment to sustainability. The town has several green initiatives in place, from recycling programs to community gardens. Residents take pride in their well-maintained parks and public spaces, contributing to the town’s overall quality of life. With its mix of natural beauty and community spirit, Villa Hills is a place where you can truly feel at home.

Imagine residing in an area with beautiful views of rivers and an abundance of vegetation all around you.
Imagine residing in an area with beautiful views of rivers and an abundance of vegetation all around you.

12. Wilmore

Step into Wilmore, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a different era. Known for its small-town charm and close-knit community, Wilmore is a nice place to live in Kentucky for those seeking a slower pace of life. The town is home to Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary, adding a youthful energy to this otherwise tranquil setting.

Wilmore is a haven for history buffs. The town’s Main Street is lined with historic buildings that date back to the early 20th century, each telling a story of its own. It’s the best area to live in Kentucky if you appreciate the charm of yesteryears. The Wilmore Old Fashioned Christmas is a local tradition that transports the town back in time, complete with horse-drawn carriage rides and carolers.

But don’t let its small size fool you; Wilmore offers a range of modern amenities. From boutique shops to cozy cafes, the town provides all the conveniences of modern living. The community garden is a popular spot, offering residents a space to grow their own produce. With its blend of old-world charm and modern comforts, Wilmore offers a unique living experience.

You'll get the impression that you've traveled back in time when you enter Wilmore.
You’ll get the impression that you’ve traveled back in time when you enter Wilmore.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Kentucky        

Interested in learning more about what are the best places to live in Kentucky? Here are frequently asked questions about the state’s best living areas.

Where is the nicest place to live in Kentucky?

Determining the nice parts of Kentucky can be subjective, as it depends on individual preferences such as lifestyle, career opportunities, and family needs. However, if you’re looking for a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and excellent amenities, Lexington often tops the list. Known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Lexington offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and rural charm, which makes it also one of the best Kentucky cities. It’s a top city in Kentucky to live if you appreciate a balanced lifestyle that includes both outdoor activities and cultural events. The city is also home to the University of Kentucky, adding a youthful energy to the community.

Is Kentucky a beautiful place to live?

Kentucky is a stunning place to call home, offering a diverse range of landscapes from the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the fertile farmlands in the west. The state is known for its natural beauty, including iconic locations like the Red River Gorge and Mammoth Cave National Park. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates scenic vistas, Kentucky offers a plethora of options. It’s one of the most livable cities in Kentucky for those who value a connection with nature. The state also has a rich cultural heritage, from its bourbon distilleries to its bluegrass music, adding another layer of allure to living here.

What part of Kentucky has the best climate?

When it comes to climate, Western Kentucky generally experiences milder winters compared to the eastern part of the state. The western region, including cities like Paducah and Bowling Green, tends to have a more temperate climate with less snowfall. However, if you enjoy experiencing all four seasons, Central Kentucky offers a balanced climate with moderate summers and winters. Places like Lexington and Frankfort provide a comfortable living environment year-round. It’s a nice part of Kentucky to consider if you’re looking for a climate that offers a bit of everything.

Kentucky is a state that provides a wide variety of experiences, from its energetic metropolis to its picturesque countryside.
Kentucky is a state that provides a wide variety of experiences, from its energetic metropolis to its picturesque countryside.

Is Kentucky an affordable place to live?

Yes, Kentucky is generally considered an affordable place to live, especially when compared to other states in the U.S. The cost of living is lower than the national average, making it a great place to live in Kentucky for those on a budget. Housing costs are particularly reasonable, whether you’re looking to rent or buy. Additionally, utility costs and healthcare expenses are also relatively low. Cities like Louisville and Lexington offer urban amenities at a fraction of the cost you’d find in larger metropolitan areas. It’s the best Kentucky town to live in if you’re seeking a high quality of life without the high price tag.

What is a living salary in Kentucky?

A living salary in Kentucky can vary depending on the city or town you choose to reside in. However, on average, a single adult without children would need approximately $27,000 per year to cover basic living expenses. For a family of four, that number jumps to around $60,000 per year. These figures take into account housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and other essential costs. It’s important to note that these are general estimates and individual circumstances can vary. If you’re considering moving to one of the best towns to live in Kentucky, it’s advisable to conduct a detailed cost-of-living analysis to determine your specific needs.

Is rent expensive in Kentucky?

Compared to other states, rent in Kentucky is relatively affordable. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranges from $600 to $800 per month, depending on the location. In larger cities like Louisville and Lexington, you might find slightly higher rates, but they are still reasonable compared to national averages. Smaller towns and rural areas offer even more budget-friendly options. It’s among the best places to move in Kentucky if you’re looking to save on housing costs without sacrificing quality of life.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Kentucky

Kentucky is a state that offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from its scenic landscapes to its vibrant cities. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling energy of Louisville or the tranquil beauty of Villa Hills, there’s a place in Kentucky that will feel like home. Each city and town brings its own unique charm and set of amenities, making it a where to live in KY that caters to a diverse range of lifestyles.

The state is not just a feast for the eyes but also for the soul. Its cultural heritage, from bluegrass music to bourbon distilleries, adds a layer of depth to everyday life. It’s a good option if you are looking for where to live in KI and you appreciate both natural beauty and cultural richness.

Affordability is another strong suit of living in the Bluegrass State. From housing to healthcare, the cost of living is generally lower than the national average. It’s a where is the best place to live in Kentucky for those who want a high quality of life without breaking the bank.

So, if you’re contemplating a move, Kentucky should be high on your list. It’s a state that promises a balanced lifestyle, offering both modern conveniences and a connection to nature. Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or a retiree, Kentucky has something to offer you.

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