Best small cities to relocate to in the world

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Megan Murray
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Time for a change? One of these lesser known cities could be the perfect place for you. 

Many of us dream of relocating. The promise of new opportunities, the adventure of a new place, the charms of experiencing a new culture – it all sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it?

And its benefits are backed up by science, too. A team of social scientists from Rice University, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina conducted six studies with 1,874 participants that involved a mixture of online panels and asking individuals from international MBA programs to complete surveys about living abroad, and found multiple benefits from living abroad.

If their study is anything to go by then making a move abroad could be one of the kindest things you ever do for yourself. From decreased levels of stress, improved job performance, greater life satisfaction, and a greater relationship with yourself, living away from home offers a lot of rewards.

But where to move? Of course, there’s the obvious choices like capital cities such as Paris, New York or Berlin – but for some people these might feel a little overwhelming and, well, touristy. 

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Monocle is famous for its expertly researched city guides which manage to sniff out the coolest places, usually known only to locals. So, when the brand announced it had come up with a list of the best small cities in the world to move to, we were intrigued.

After noting how technology has encouraged more people to work remotely and that the soaring price of living in a capital city has meant the millennial generation is being priced out and forced to look for other options, Monocle enlisted correspondents, editors and researchers to analyse elements such as the quality of public transport, rail and air connections and progressive local government.

“We kept noticing that our readers were moving to the likes of Porto and Boulder and creating busy, better lives for themselves. This survey shows why people are voting with their feet and ambitions,” says Monocle Editor, Andrew Tuck.

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The list features spots from all over the world including France, Canada and Japan. The UK also features, with the Monocle team heralding Bath as the spot to move to over London, but the winner is Lausanne in Switzerland thanks to its diversity, fantastic nightlife and its beautiful architecture (think stone buildings with shutters in soft green, chalky blue and dove grey).

Scroll down to find out 12 smaller cities that are better to move to than a capital.

1. Lausanne, Switzerland

2. Boulder, USA

3. Bergen, Norway

4. Hobart, Australia

5. Chigasaki, Japan

6. Bolzano, Italy

7. Bordeaux, France

8. Innsbruck, Austria

9. Porto, Portugal

10. Aachen, Germany

11. Reykjavik, Iceland

12. Savannah, USA

You can see the full list here.

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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