Money Magazine released its annual list of the best places to live in the United States. Here are the Top 20.
Money Magazine has released its annual list of the Best Places to Live in the United States. Here are the Top 20 small towns for 2012.
20. Waldorf, Md. (Population: 69,400) -- This city is considered the major retail spot in Southern Maryland and its welcoming vibe and safe streets are attracting home buyers in search of bargains.
19. Lakeville, Minn. (Population: 56,700) -- All 14 of Lakeville's public schools beat the state averages in test scores, and summertime brings swimming, boating and fishing at Marion and Orchard lakes.
18. South Jordan, Utah (Population: 52,700) -- Locals take health seriously: When they're not skiing or off-road biking in nearby mountains, residents take to the trails at Jordan River Parkway for jogging, horseback riding, fishing and more.
17. Centreville, Va. (Population: 72,900) -- This city strikes the right balance for those who want to escape big-city life in Washington, D.C., without sacrificing big-city job opportunities.
16. Castle Rock, Colo. (Population: 52,500) -- About a 40-minute drive from Denver, Castle Rock is a hub for small businesses at the moment and boasts 255 days of sunshine a year.
15. Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J. (Population: 53,200) -- Looking for work? Some 30 Fortune 500 companies have offices in town, while those craving serious nightlife can easily make the 40-minute drive to New York City.
14. Eagan, Minn. (Population: 64,700) -- Thanks to large local firms like Thomson Reuters and Coca-Cola, unemployment is low here. Winters may be brutal, but locals make the most of summer at hundreds of area lakes and Cascade Bay, Minnesota's largest outdoor water park.
13. Allen, Texas (Population: 83,700) -- High school football is huge here and the city even boasts a minor league hockey team. Allen is also home to 5.5 million square feet of retail space.
12. Fishers, Ind. (Population: 78,600) -- This city is no stranger to the Best Places list. It boasts reasonably priced homes, one of the top school systems in the state and seamless access to downtown Indianapolis.
11. Woodbury, Minn. (Population: 63,600) -- This Twin Cities suburb is home to top notch sports and health care facilities. It's widely considered one of the top places in the area to raise a family, thanks to highly rated schools and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation.
10. Chapel Hill, N.C. (Population: 59,000) -- Locals call it a "town within a park," but Chapel Hill is known for more than its greenery. Part of the Research Triangle, it boasts one of the highest numbers of Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S.
8. Columbia/Ellicott City, Md. (Population: 100,700) -- Families in this pair of unincorporated cities enjoy a diverse population, reasonable housing costs, good schools and miles of hiking trails.
9. Overland Park, Kan. (Population: 175,300) -- This city is full of community spirit. Independent shops line downtown streets and residents rave about their friendly neighbors. Residents and visitors alike flock to the biweekly farmers' market, known as one of the best in the area.
7. Reston, Va. (Population: 60,300) -- Reston is a planned community, but houses of all shapes and sizes are found here. Activities are varied too, from an über-urban downtown to 55 miles of bike paths, 52 tennis courts and 15 pools.
6. Irvine, Calif. (Population: 213,600) -- rvine has all the surf, sand, and sun Southern California is known for, with 44 miles of bike trails, 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, and a beach 10 miles away.
5. Redmond, Wash. (Population: 55,200) -- With Seattle to the West and the Cascades to the east, Microsoft's hometown is an ideal base camp for exploring the Northwest. The city is also home to historic buildings, quirky shops, eateries and brewpubs.
4. Newton, Mass. (Population: 84,700) -- Education is a priority here. The city is divided into 13 villages built around elementary schools and lies close to MIT and Boston College.
3. Eden Prairie, Minn. (Population: 61,200) -- Another Twin Cities suburb, Eden Prairie boasts terrific employment prospects, natural beauty and a well-educated workforce. It's also kept a healthy budget surplus of 2 percent the past two years.
2. McKinney, Texas (Population: 136,100) -- One of northern Texas' oldest towns, McKinney's old cotton mills and feed stores are now hip boutiques and art galleries. The city offers plenty of housing options, has a new hospital and a conference center and hotel complex is in the works.
1. Carmel, Ind. (Population: 80,100) -- This city's business district has the second-largest concentration of office workers in Indiana and an unemployment rate that's about half the national average. Carmel also has excellent schools, a big sports and recreation center, a performing arts center and wide bike lanes.
Check out the Top 100 small towns here.
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