The Best Cities to Live In for DIYers

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Written By Jim J Neal

DIY home improvement is on the rise, but how easy or hard is it to find necessary tools and materials? These are the best places to live for DIYers.

Fellow DIYers, is your go-to hardware store right around the block or halfway across town? A quick trip to the store can make or break getting that project done, especially if you need to make multiple trips.

Researchers at Porch.com compiled data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Zillow and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to determine which places in the U.S. are best for DIYers. They weighed the density of hardware, furniture and appliance stores in each area. Then they broke down the overall results into large, midsize and small metros, as well as states. Ties went to the cities with more total stores.

So how did your city fare? Here are the top 10 metro areas for DIYers, and the top five states and large cities.

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Barnstable, Massachusetts

The Town of Barnstable on Cape Cod is, by far, the best place to live for DIYers. With 11.99 hardware, furniture and appliance stores per 10,000 residents, it beats the nearest competition by more than 3.5 points. Cost of living is seven percent higher than the U.S. average, but DIYers can save big fixing up their barns and stables themselves.

Bend, Oregon

Just east of the Cascade Mountains, this small metro has 8.45 stores per 10,000 residents. Cost of living is slightly higher than the national average (2.2 percent), but the savings from DIYing will partially offset those ski lift tickets.

Missoula, Montana

This gorgeous trout fishing haven keeps DIYers stocked with 7.90 hardware, furniture and appliance stores per 10,000 residents. This small metro’s cost of living is 6.4 percent below the national average.

Mankato, Minnesota

Tops in the Midwest is this college town about one and a half hours southwest of the Twin Cities. Local DIYers enjoy 7.48 stores per 10,000 residents. Cost of living is a whopping 7.7 percent lower than the national average. Median home prices are low, too, around $250,000.

Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Alabama

This metro on the shores of Mobile Bay boasts 7.47 qualifying stores per 10,000 Alabamians. It also boasts a mysterious phenomenon known as a “jubilee,” when thousands of crab, shrimp and flounder swim ashore for easy catching. Come for the delicious seafood, stay for the abundant local hardware stores.

Billings, Montana

The Yellowstone River runs through Billings, and locals enjoy 7.47 DIY-friendly stores per 10,000 residents. Lewis and Clark stopped in Billings on their historic journey, and history of the American West abounds in this small metro. Cost of living is lower than the national average (minus 6.3 percent).

Naples-Marco Island, Florida

This midsize metro with pristine white-sand beaches has 283 hardware, furniture and appliance stores. That’s 7.46 per 10,000 Floridians. So if you want to stock up on DIY materials before hitting the beach, you won’t have far to go. Cost of living in this affluent paradise is 0.9 percent above the national average.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Pittsfield, a small metro in far western Massachusetts, has the distinction of being the first place in the U.S. to reference baseball in its city laws. (It wasn’t allowed!) Pittsfield also claims 7.39 DIY-friendly stores per 10,000 residents. Take that, Cooperstown. Cost of living is 2.3 percent lower than the national average.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

This Southwest jewel is the oldest city on the list, dating to 1610 and home to incredible adobe architecture and historic plazas. Santa Feans can shop at 7.38 hardware, appliance and furniture stores per 10,000 residents, making it the most DIY-friendly metro in the Southwestern U.S. Cost of living is low, too — 6.3 percent below the national average.

Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont

With 7.33 stores per 10,000 Burlingtonians, this college town just 50 miles from the Canadian border is a DIYer’s dream. Burlington is the only city on the list to run completely on renewable energy. Cost of living is 2.3 percent above the national average.

Top 5 Large Cities and States

All the cities that made the top 10 are small (100,000-349,999 residents) and midsize (350,000-1,000,000 residents). What about large metros and states?

Numbers in parentheses represent hardware, furniture and appliance stores per 10,000 residents.

Large metros

  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida (5.21);
  • Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama (5.12);
  • New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana (4.92);
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania (4.86);
  • Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island/Massachusetts (4.77).

States

  • Montana (8.54);
  • Vermont (7.90);
  • South Dakota (7.79);
  • North Dakota (7.77);
  • Wyoming (7.65).

Ally ChildressAlly Childress

Ally Childress
Ally Childress is a licensed electrician and freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas.

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