Finance site ranks nearly 1,300 small U.S. cities. Here’s how Maine’s urban centers rate.

A man sits on a bench near Bug Light in South Portland. The foot of Portland's Munjoy Hill lays across the harbor. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)

A man sits on a bench near Bug Light in South Portland. The foot of Portland’s Munjoy Hill lays across the harbor. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)

There are a lot of websites out there ranking big cities, small cities and towns of all sizes — by any number of criteria.

WalletHub — the ubiquitous finance website which churns out regular data analyses ranking cities and states on everything from education to public safety — has crunched the numbers on 1,268 of America’s “small cities” and published what it considers the best and worst of the bunch.

The website explains:

“Our data set includes a total of 22 metrics, ranging from housing costs to school-system quality to the number of restaurants per capita.”

coffee shops per capita

WalletHub considered municipalities with between 25,000 and 100,000 residents to be “small cities” for the purposes of this data dive, putting four Maine cities on the site’s radar screen: Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and South Portland.

(Auburn narrowly missed the cut with around 23,000 residents, while Biddeford, Sanford and Brunswick each have more than 20,000 as well.)

So how do the Maine cities fare?

South Portland is the highest rated of the bunch at a respectable No. 164, among the top 13 percent or so of all cities listed, while the state’s largest city of Portland wasn’t too far behind at No. 170.

Both cities received high marks under the umbrella “quality of life” category — which presumably included metrics as restaurant numbers, museums per capita and crime rates — with South Portland at No. 123 and Portland all the way up at No. 9.

But South Portland beat out its larger neighbor in categories ranking affordability, economy and “education and health.”

Bangor found itself at almost the halfway point in the overall list at No. 578, trumping South Portland with a “quality of life” ranking of No. 69, but falling further behind on the other metrics.

Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city, rounded out the state’s contingent in the ranking at No. 970.

See the full list of the metrics and the study’s methodology by clicking here.