Matt Gade, Deseret News
Here are some things that non-Utahns are saying about Utah’s smaller cities and towns lately. <br><br> City of St. George
Friendly neighbors, oodles of green space and short commutes make for easy living in [Orem]. —Time's Money magazine

With Salt Lake City, Provo and Park City constantly taking up the spotlight, many of Utah’s lesser-known cities are often overlooked in the media. And while we could probably tell you something phenomenal about each of them, third-party perspectives seem more appropriate.

So, all bias and hyperbole aside, here are some things that non-Utahns are saying about Utah’s smaller cities and towns lately. Judge for yourself if the headline fits.

1. Accolades

Time’s Money magazine ranks the 50 “Best Places to Live in America” each year. Every other year, it switches between small “towns” (less than 50,000 residents) and small “cities” (50,000 to 300,000 residents). 2014 was the year of small cities. It considered things like health, education, economy, affordability, diversity, leisure, etc. Three of Utah’s cities made the list: South Jordan, Orem and St. George, respectively.

Last year, Farmington, Draper and Lindon came in at No. 14, 25 and 29, respectively, in Money's list of the best small towns. And earlier this year, Heber City was featured in Livability’s “10 Best Small Towns” list.

2. Economies

MoneyRates.com recently ranked Utah as the fifth best state to make a living, but there’s more to a great economy than just making money.

South Jordan was ranked No. 18 in Money’s list of the best small cities this year. Money mentioned Daybreak, nearby hospitals, diverse newcomers and rapid growth as some of the reasons.

Money also ranked St. George No. 11 in its “Best Places to Find a Job” list, out of the 50 best small cities to live in. According to the article, St. George has grown by 15,000 residents in the last decade and unemployment has dropped from 10 percent to 4.2 percent in the last five years.

St. George and Cedar City were both included in NerdWallet’s “Most Affordable Cities in America" list this year. Cedar City came in at No. 17, while St. George barely made the list at No. 92.

3. Communities

Orem came in at No. 25 on Money’s best small cities list. “Friendly neighbors, oodles of green space and short commutes make for easy living in this city tucked between the Wasatch Mountain Range and freshwater Utah Lake,” said Money. Orem had one of the lowest median ages of any of the cities on the list: 25.8 years.

Orem was also included in 24/7 Wall St.’s “America’s 50 Best Cities to Live” list. Along with economic factors, the list focused on community concerns like violent crime rates, successful school systems and access to amenities. Orem was ranked No. 30 for safety and job growth.

4. Outdoor activities

West Jordan joined Orem on the 24/7 Wall St.’s top cities to live in list at No. 40. The article mentioned the nearness of so many ski resorts and sports teams as one its standout features, along with a rise in employment.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, Utah, is one of the best places in the country to find fossils. It is technically in both Utah and Colorado, but you can only see fossils in the Utah portion. The Morrison Formation—a phenomenally preserved geological formation of Stegosaurus and Diplodocus skeletons that cuts through numerous states—can be seen there.

Along with good businesses and house prices, St. George made Money’s list at No. 47 for its outdoor activities, “dry summers, mild winters, and short commutes,” according to Money. “Add[ing] up to an overall ease-of-living score higher than any other place in the top 50.”