The Best Places to Live in Southwest

Austin, Texas Skyline

The Southwestern part of the United States is one of the most interesting regions in the country, as it is influenced by a certain hospitable Southern mentality with the feel of the Wild West. There is a heavy Mexican influence, also. The region is mostly mountainous, hot or arid, but if you don't mind the heat, the Southwest has a culture all its own.

1 Phoenix

The biggest city in Arizona, Phoenix has quickly become a bustling metropolis, attracting wealthy business types, artists and college students alike to its desert capital. The locals are attractive, friendly and proud of their state and its culture. With Arizona State University in the heart of nearby Tempe, the college population is sizable, creating a fun nightlife atmosphere in some areas, and quiet, safe and upscale suburbs surround the city. It's close to California, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, so getting away for a weekend is easy.

2 Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico, an artist community lin the mountains, has thrived on tourists looking to collect the art unique to the area. But the town may be one of the best places to live in for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, yet with more activity than a small town. With skiing in the nearby mountains and a thriving arts and tourist community, Santa Fe in the winter feels like a winter wonderland in a foreign country.

3 Austin

On the southeastern edge of the Southwest region is Austin, Texas, the capital of Texas and the fourth largest city in the state. Considered a live music hotbed, Austin has a strong art, film and music scene, with world-class festivals throughout the year -- South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival, the Austin Film Festival and Austin City Limits. With Dell Corporation based in Austin, the job market is strong and with the University of Texas in the heart of the city, the nightlife never loses steam.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Daniel Westlake has written under pen names for a myriad of publications all over the nation, ranging from national magazines to local papers. He now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. but regularly travels around the country and abroad, exploring and experiencing everything he can.