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Best Places to Live in Kentucky

So, you’re thinking about moving to Kentucky? Maybe you want to relocate and make a career change. You also may be looking for an affordable city to raise a family (Kentucky is full of those!) or a good retirement destination.

If you’re considering a move to Kentucky—the land of horse racing, college basketball, fried chicken and quilts (more on that later)—you’ll need to make sure you choose an area that fits your budget, personality, and any other needs you and your family have.

So, to give you a peek at some of your options, let’s take a look at 10 of the best places in Kentucky to live.

Where Are the Best Places to Live in Kentucky?

The best place for you and your family to live in Kentucky (or anywhere else, for that matter) will depend on your individual situation and preferences. Your income, age, the size of your family, and whether you prefer big cities or small towns will all play a role in which city you’d most enjoy living in.

As you go through this list (which is in no particular order), think about which city is the best fit for you.


Up first on our list is Lexington, which is where you’ll find the University of Kentucky. Because Lexington is home to Kentucky’s biggest university, it features many of the traditional college-town staples.

Looking for bookstores? Lexington has plenty of those, the coolest of which is the two-story Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Coffee shops? Head to the Lussi Brown Coffee Bar for one of their strong coffee creations or their wide variety of cocktails. Restaurants? Stop by Stella’s Kentucky Deli to enjoy one of their many farm-fresh menu items.

Lexington also has a cost of living that’s 7% below the national average, so moving there is affordable for most people.1



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Data in table collected in November 2023.


Are you the type of person who can’t survive without having skyscrapers nearby? Look no further than Louisville. With a population of over 600,000, Louisville is Kentucky’s biggest city, and it’ll definitely satisfy your metropolitan fix if you move there.

Because Louisville is such a big city, people who live there never have a hard time finding something to do. Are you a sports fan? Go watch the University of Louisville’s top-notch basketball team (usually a much better experience than watching the football team). More of an arts person? Catch a touring Broadway show at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Love music? Tons of A-list performers—like P!NK, Blake Shelton and Alicia Keys—play the KFC Yum! Center each year.

Plus, Louisville’s cost of living is 4% below the national average—a rarity for metropolitan cities.6



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Some Elizabethtown locals refer to their home as Kentucky’s “Hub City.” That’s because it’s located right in the middle of the state and within driving distance of several major metropolitan U.S. cities, including Louisville (1 hour), Cincinnati (2 hours), Nashville (2 hours), Indianapolis (2.5 hours), St. Louis (4.5 hours), Columbus (4 hours), and Chicago (5 hours).

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But you won’t have to drive much at all to get to work in Elizabethtown because there are plenty of companies nearby with tons of job opportunities—like Amazon, UPS, Ford, Humana and several construction companies. It’s also a smaller city, the type where many locals know their neighbors.



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Looking for the city on our list with the lowest housing costs? Then Owensboro is the destination for you. With a median rent of just $850 and a median home listing price of around $220,000, living in Owensboro is super affordable. Add to that its friendly community and wide array of outdoor activities (including the beautiful Smothers Park), and you’ve got a great place to raise a family.

Owensboro is also home to the Owensboro Community and Technical College, which offers a variety of programs, including nursing, early childhood education, computer science and criminal justice.15 With tuition costs that start at less than $3,000 per semester, it’s a great way to pay for college without student loans.16



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Up next: Richmond, a city in Kentucky’s Madison County. Unfortunately, unlike in Madison County, Iowa, you won’t find any covered bridges (or rugged magazine photographers) in Richmond. What you’ll find, though, is a family-friendly atmosphere with the third-lowest housing costs on our list.

A lot of folks who live in Richmond commute to Lexington for work, which is about a 40-minute drive. However, there are plenty of places to work within Richmond that don’t require much of a drive at all. The city’s list of top employers includes Eastern Kentucky University (yep, another college), Baptist Health Hospital, and several manufacturing companies.



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Bowling Green

Alright, there couldn’t possibly be another college town on our list, right? Wrong! Bowling Green is home to Western Kentucky University, which means it’s also full of the typical college-town vibes. It’s one of those “not too big, not too small” towns that offers plenty of things to do while staying away from the inconveniences of a big city—like heavy crowds and traffic.

And if you ever do work your way through what Bowling Green has to offer (like sporting events at WKU, nearby Mammoth Cave National Park, and the National Corvette Museum), it’s just an hour drive to Nashville and two hours to Louisville.



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Next up on our list is Kentucky’s capital city, Frankfort. Because Frankfort is the state capital, it’s a destination that history and politics buffs are sure to enjoy. The city is full of historical and government buildings, many of which offer tours—you can even take a walking tour of the capitol building itself.

Even if you’re not the type who grabbed some popcorn for the latest presidential debate or Ken Burns documentary, there’s still plenty to enjoy about Frankfort. It’s located along the Kentucky River, so there are plenty of opportunities for things to do in the water. It’s also home to the lowest housing costs on our list and (surprise, surprise) a college: Kentucky State University.



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Ask a local Kentuckian about Florence, and they’ll tell you it’s basically Cincinnati. That’s because Florence is only 13 miles south of Cincinnati, which means its residents are just a short drive away from taking in a Reds game, watching the Bengals, or getting to the office (if they work in the big city). Some of Cincinnati’s biggest restaurant staples, like Skyline Chili and LaRosa’s Pizzeria, even have locations in Florence.

If you’re looking for access to a big-city lifestyle without actually being stuck inside a major metropolitan area, Florence is for you—its population is about a tenth of Cincinnati’s! Keep in mind, though, that Florence has the highest rent cost on our list.



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Fort Thomas

Florence may have the reputation of being “Cincinnati South,” but Fort Thomas is even closer to Ohio’s second-biggest city—it’s just five miles away. That means, like people living in Florence, residents of Fort Thomas have easy access to Cincinnati’s airport, job opportunities and entertainment options while still living in an area with a much smaller population.

With just over 17,000 residents, Fort Thomas has a small-town feel. Some locals will even tell you it’s like a giant neighborhood. Fort Thomas also has highly rated public schools, which is a big deal if you’re looking for a place in Kentucky to raise a family. 



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Located right along the banks of the Ohio River in western Kentucky, Paducah is the home of the National Quilt Museum. If that alone doesn’t convince you to pack your bags and head that way, then what will? (Hey, no offense to the quilt lovers out there.) In all seriousness, Paducah boasts a great culture with a significant arts scene, live music, friendly people and awesome restaurants (go try Just Hamburgers if you’re ever in the area).

Because it’s so close to the Ohio River, Paducah also has a beautiful riverfront area near its historic downtown, filled with plenty of restaurants offering gorgeous views. You may even see a river cruise dock in Paducah to let its passengers stay overnight.



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Ready to Move to Kentucky?

As you can see, Kentucky offers a lot of variety across the state. Whether you prefer a small town with a slower pace of life or a big city full of exciting opportunities, there’s likely a place in Kentucky that you’d enjoy living in.

Next Steps

If you’re ready to pack up and head to the Bluegrass State, your next steps are to get your move organized and work with a real estate agent.

Why? Because a good agent will help you find the right house, walk you through paperwork, and keep everything on track even if something goes wrong along the way. They’ll also make sure you know how much house you can afford and plan for moving costs.

For a fast and easy way to find the best agents in Kentucky, try our RamseyTrusted program. The agents our team recommends will serve you with excellence and make sure you wind up in a home that’s a good fit for you and your family.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Kentucky has several pretty small towns, but one of the best is Paducah. Because Paducah is located along the banks of the Ohio River, the town has a beautiful riverfront area with some awesome restaurants. Paducah is also home to a lovely, historic downtown area.

Yes, Kentucky is considered a good state to live in! Most of Kentucky’s cities have affordable housing with an overall cost of living that’s below the national average. Plus, the state offers a lot of variety—you can choose between big cities, rural areas and traditional college towns.

The nicest place to live in Kentucky depends on what you’re looking for. Want to move to a big city? Louisville is your best option. Looking for a smaller town with super low housing costs? Head to Owensboro. Something in between? Bowling Green is a great choice.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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