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Best small towns to live in across America

Aine Givens on

Published in Slideshow World

Andrew F. Kazmierski 1/51

Best small towns to live in across America

The best small towns can offer friendly neighbors, safe streets, and excellent schools along with cultural and recreational activities—and, of course, quieter alternatives to nearby bustling cities.

To find the best small towns to live in across America, Stacker referenced Niche's Best Places to Live Study for 2020 which ranks American towns by overall quality of life. The variables used by Niche include cost of living, health and fitness, and weather. Any town with more than 40,000 people or was categorized as "urban" or "dense urban" was excluded.

The top cities on this list run the gamut from long-established villages in the suburbs of New York City to planned communities in Virginia and Texas. Communities on Long Island feature an old Quaker meeting house, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the neighborhoods that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” In Texas, meanwhile, what was once a working ranch has become a planned community for thousands of residents.

Many such towns grew up along railroad lines as pioneers pushed westward. A group of nuns traveling through Elm Grove, Milwaukee, decided to stop when their horses did and established a convent there. Some were developed as the country’s first suburbs, especially for servicemen returning from war and in need of housing.

Many communities are near universities, with all of the intellectual offerings they bring, from lectures and concerts to museums and classes. Los Alamos, New Mexico, is known for the Los Alamos National Lab, while Princeton, New Jersey, is famed not only for the university of the same name but also the Institute for Advanced Study, where Albert Einstein worked. Other towns work to maintain their community traditions—apple festivals, communal gardens, ice cream socials, and harvest markets—reflecting their roots as farming towns.

Still others have unusual origins. Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, and Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, began as resorts. Some town names reflect America’s diversity, from Creve Coeur, Missouri, which means “heartbreak” in French, to Okemos, Michigan, honoring a Native American chief. And they point to the future American housing—especially examples of the “new urbanism,” where homes, offices, and shops are linked together in walkable neighborhoods and public spaces.

Looking for that perfect place to settle down, or just leave the city? Click through to find a small town that may be an ideal destination.

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Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

James Kirkikis // Shutterstock 2/51

#50. Syosset, New York

- Population: 19,559 - Median home value: $642,500 (91% own) - Median rent: $2,256 (9% rent) - Median household income: $159,375

A suburb of New York City on Long Island, 5-square-mile Syosset is prized for its schools. The community is diverse, with 22% of the population being East Asian and South Asian, and close-knit, with a Facebook moms group and a local newspaper. Formerly farmland known for buckwheat, Syosset features mostly single-family residences but does have a gated condominium complex and some apartments.

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#49. Greatwood, Texas

- Population: 12,437 - Median home value: $322,000 (93% own) - Median rent: $2,000 (7% rent) - Median household income: $148,047

Greatwood is a planned community within the city of Sugar Land built around the 18-hole public Greatwood Golf Club, and it offers many other opportunities for outdoor activities. It includes three swimming pools, 13 playgrounds, walking trails, and tennis courts. Nearby is Brazos Bend State Park, along with the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, and the George Ranch Historical Park.

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#48. Manhattan Beach, California

- Population: 35,573 - Median home value: $1,947,900 (70% own) - Median rent: $2,499 (30% rent) - Median household income: $150,083

Manhattan Beach is a community south of Los Angeles with year-round moderate temperatures. Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach constitute the South Bay. Its high school, Mira Costa High School, is a top-ranked one. Downtown Manhattan Beach offers casual restaurants and more formal ones featuring small plates and hand-crafted cocktails. The Roundhouse Aquarium, which is free, offers education on the environment and marine life.

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#47. New Territory, Texas

- Population: 15,699 - Median home value: $276,800 (85% own) - Median rent: $1,554 (15% rent) - Median household income: $135,444

New Territory is another planned community in Sugar Land with 4,606 homes on 3,200 acres. Once pecan groves and sugar cane fields, it is now 450 acres of parks, lakes, and trees. There’s a full-sized gymnasium, swimming pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a tennis pro shop, plus regulation-sized sports fields. The community falls within the Fort Bend Independent School District, and additional patrols are provided by deputies from the Fort Bend County Constable's Office.

Robert McKean/grossepointetoday// Flickr 6/51

#46. Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

- Population: 11,207 - Median home value: $347,900 (76% own) - Median rent: $1,016 (24% rent) - Median household income: $112,384

Grosse Pointe Park is a Metro Detroit suburb on the southwestern shore of Lake St. Claire, one of five “Grosse Pointes” that share a top-rated school system. East of downtown Detroit, it has two waterfront parks, with a pool and skating rink. Its housing ranges from single-family homes to mansions on the waterfront. Originally woods and marsh, then farms and orchards, Grosse Pointe developed as Detroit’s summer resort until electric trains and automobiles made it practical as a year-round community. Fun fact: Windsor, Canada, is actually south of Grosse Pointe Park.

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#45. Wyoming, Ohio

- Population: 8,535 - Median home value: $314,800 (85% own) - Median rent: $1,048 (15% rent) - Median household income: $121,071

A suburb of Cincinnati in the Mill Creek Valley, Wyoming began to grow after the completion of the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad in 1851. It is named after another Wyoming, but not the one you might think: The original village was reminiscent of a spot in Pennsylvania with the same name. Its Facebook page urges, “Come for the charm, stay for the friendships,” and its schools are highly rated. Wyoming has just added a story to its hiking and bicycle path that you can follow along with as you walk or bike.

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#44. Oakwood, Ohio

- Population: 9,030 - Median home value: $239,600 (80% own) - Median rent: $1,172 (20% rent) - Median household income: $102,159

Oakwood prides itself on being a safe and walkable city. Crimes rates are low, and children can walk or ride their bikes to one of the top-notch schools, while adults can go to shops, parks, and other destinations. There’s a welcoming, small-town spirit attached to the community’s events, from the MOMS of Oakwood, which sponsors playgroups and other activities, to the new-resident breakfast and the ice cream social that starts the school year.

ncbPhotography-NancyCarol // Shutterstock 9/51

#43. Rock Hill, Missouri

- Population: 4,637 - Median home value: $180,500 (88% own) - Median rent: $999 (12% rent) - Median household income: $80,042

A suburb of St. Louis, Rock Hill owes its name to a Presbyterian minister who traveled there to celebrate a new congregation. According to a 1934 history of the city, it was first settled by French explorers coming from St. Louis. The city, which has highly rated schools, hosts drive-in movies, parking lot bingo, a front-yard tombstone hunt (with candy and toys hidden behind the “tombstones”), and a city-wide garage sale. A nearby attraction is the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, where the future president lived with his wife in the 1850s.

James Meyer // Shutterstock 10/51

#42. Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

- Population: 14,039 - Median home value: $373,200 (82% own) - Median rent: $1,253 (18% rent) - Median household income: $117,300

Whitefish Bay residents value their village for its proximity to Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee, its good schools, diverse housing, and strong community. It’s a village mostly of single-family houses and safe streets, and it was once the site of a resort, built in 1889 by one of Milwaukee’s so-called “beer barons.” The visitors came to ride the Ferris wheel, listen to concerts, and eat whitefish from the bay.

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#41. Broadlands, Virginia

- Population: 13,704 - Median home value: $591,200 (84% own) - Median rent: $2,161 (16% rent) - Median household income: $179,574

Broadlands is a planned community with highly rated schools in Ashburn, Loudoun County, midway between Dulles International Airport and the town of Leesburg. It was named a certified wildlife habitat community by the National Wildlife Federation, part of an effort to make communities greener and friendlier to wildlife. Managed by a homeowners association, it is designed around the 150-acre Stream Valley Park and includes single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments.

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Kristopher Kettner // Shutterstock 12/51

#40. Park Forest Village, Pennsylvania

- Population: 10,610 - Median home value: $268,700 (57% own) - Median rent: $1,002 (43% rent) - Median household income: $71,791

Park Forest Village was the first large suburb near State College, home to Pennsylvania State University. Begun in 1956 and continuing to grow into the 1990s, it won awards for its move away from a grid, its attention to preserving trees, and its development of parks. There are sidewalks throughout, and its schools get top grades.

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#39. Homewood, Alabama

- Population: 25,595 - Median home value: $333,600 (62% own) - Median rent: $1,090 (38% rent) - Median household income: $77,269

Homewood is a suburb of Birmingham with top-rated schools. A spurt of growth in the 1870s in the area that would become Homewood was a result of Birmingham’s misfortune: a cholera epidemic that sent people out of the city. Homewood was a result of a merger of several smaller communities beginning in the 1920s. It is home to boutiques, antique stores, and restaurants, as well as Shades Creek Greenway, for walking and bicycling, and Samford University, a private Christian college.

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#38. Lemont, Pennsylvania

- Population: 2,439 - Median home value: $236,100 (71% own) - Median rent: $863 (29% rent) - Median household income: $85,938

Lemont is northeast of State College, and at its center it has preserved the John I. Thompson Grain Elevator and Coal Sheds, a historic landmark. Some nearby attractions include The Arboretum at Penn State, with its botanical gardens, and the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.

Philip Leara // Wikimedia Commons 15/51

#37. Kirkwood, Missouri

- Population: 27,693 - Median home value: $293,200 (75% own) - Median rent: $1,031 (25% rent) - Median household income: $88,378

A suburb of St. Louis, Kirkwood advertises itself as a walkable, bikeable community. It was built after the St. Louis Fire of 1849, when the Kirkwood Association bought 240 acres of land along the route of the new Missouri Pacific Railroad and named the community after James Kirkwood, the railroad’s chief engineer. The Kirkwood Train Station is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the downtown area boasts a farmers market that becomes a pumpkin patch and harvest market in October.

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#36. Garrett Park, Maryland

- Population: 1,010 - Median home value: $812,000 (90% own) - Median rent: $1,646 (10% rent) - Median household income: $179,306

A small town next to Rock Creek Park, Garrett Park offers easy access to Washington, D.C., by commuter train or the Metro. Dating to 1898, it boasts winding, tree-lined streets, different types of homes, a community pool, and various parks and playgrounds. It became the first nuclear-free zone in the United States, and it has its own newspaper, The Garrett Bugle, started in 1953 by two elementary school children. Its schools are rated above average compared to other Maryland schools.

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#35. Glendale, Missouri

- Population: 5,888 - Median home value: $385,700 (97% own) - Median rent: $1,350 (3% rent) - Median household income: $141,217

Glendale is another community on the Missouri Pacific Railroad line and is named after a station between Webster Groves and Kirkwood. In the early 1860s, it was made up of country houses and estates, some of which remain today. Residents get together at the Algonquin Country Club, or through the Glendale Women’s Club and the local gardening club. The community has only elementary schools—older students go to high school in neighboring communities.

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#34. Rollingwood, Texas

- Population: 1,569 - Median home value: $991,400 (93% own) - Median rent: $3,501 (7% rent) - Median household income: $190,795

A suburb of Austin, Rollingwood was founded in 1955. Rollingwood Park is at its heart, with playgrounds, a pavilion, ball fields, a field house, and a communal garden where residents grow sugar snap peas, spinach, fennel, and many other vegetables. There’s a private pool in town, part of an athletic club.

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#33. Hanover, New Hampshire

- Population: 11,512 - Median home value: $548,200 (68% own) - Median rent: $1,475 (32% rent) - Median household income: $133,672

Home to Dartmouth College, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and a research laboratory of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hanover is one of the communities of New Hampshire and Vermont in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River, at the center of which are Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire, and White River Junction, Vermont. It is known for the arts, including the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth, and for outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and rock climbing. Nearby are the Lebanon Opera House and the Barrette Center for the Arts.

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#32. Princeton, New Jersey

- Population: 30,728 - Median home value: $833,000 (59% own) - Median rent: $1,563 (41% rent) - Median household income: $138,194

Another university town, Princeton includes much of the university of the same name as well as the world-renowned Institute for Advanced Study, where Albert Einstein was one of the first staff members. It has a range of housing, from large homes to affordable units, and many recreational opportunities including a pool complex, tennis courts, parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields. In 2013, the former Borough of Princeton and the Township of Princeton merged to become Princeton.

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#31. Great Neck Estates, New York

- Population: 2,841 - Median home value: $1,356,100 (90% own) - Median rent: $1,884 (10% rent) - Median household income: $148,939

This village, which lies on a peninsula, is one of nine in Great Neck. Created in 1911, it is on the north shore of Long Island and is a suburb of New York City. Its schools are highly rated, and there is a waterfront park featuring tennis courts, a playground, playfields, a pool, and a marina. Summer begins with a Memorial Day picnic complete with food, rides, music, and food, and continues with tennis tournaments on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, as well as water races on the Fourth of July and Labor Day. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in Great Neck Estates in the 1920s and set The Great Gatsby on Long Island.

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#30. Bexley, Ohio

- Population: 13,764 - Median home value: $359,200 (77% own) - Median rent: $965 (23% rent) - Median household income: $108,750

Bexley is a suburb of Columbus bordered by the Alum Creek, with self-described close-knit neighborhoods, a walkable Main Street, and top schools. Capital University, an independent school with a Lutheran background, calls the town home. Bexley is the result of the merger of two communities: the Lutheran neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge around Capital University and Bullit Park, once the site of country homes of rich residents of Columbus, including the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden.

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#29. Great Neck Gardens, New York

- Population: 1,183 - Median home value: $941,800 (92% own) - Median rent: null (8% rent) - Median household income: $218,603

Great Neck Gardens is a hamlet on Long Island’s Great Neck peninsula. It includes Allenwood Park, with its softball fields, tennis courts, pond, and playgrounds. Great Neck falls within the town of North Hempstead, which has a beach, a public golf course with an 18-hole championship course, and 38 parks.

 

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#28. East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania

- Population: 11,415 - Median home value: $392,700 (69% own) - Median rent: $1,542 (31% rent) - Median household income: $111,870

East Whiteland Township is at the center of Chester Valley, about 25 miles west of Philadelphia. The first Europeans in the area came from Wales, and the town’s name is Welsh: the original Whiteland Gardens is in Flintshire County. It is rich with historical sites, including the Lapp Log House, built in 1700. The area was called the Dark Valley by Native Americans because of the thick growth of trees and features the Conestoga Trail Ecology Park. In addition to the highly rated Great Valley School District, Drexel University and Pennsylvania State University have campuses here.

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#27. Leawood, Kansas

- Population: 34,570 - Median home value: $447,100 (90% own) - Median rent: $1,699 (10% rent) - Median household income: $149,736

The city of Leawood is part of the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area, about 10 miles southwest of the city. It originated with Oscar G. Lee, a retired Oklahoma police officer, in 1920, and then began to flourish in the 1940s with a housing development. The goal was the friendliness of a small town matched with the conveniences of a city, and Leawood claims to offer just that with its established neighborhoods, new developments, and office buildings, not to mention its highly rated public schools.

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#26. Devon, Pennsylvania

- Population: 2,008 - Median home value: $600,200 (84% own) - Median rent: $2,177 (16% rent) - Median household income: $183,333

Devon is part of Philadelphia’s fabled Main Line suburbs, named after the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. It is also home to the internationally known Devon Horse Show, which began in 1896, and its schools are highly rated. Homes range from turn-of-the-century carriage houses to new condominiums, and a notable attraction is the nonprofit Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens.

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#25. Cascades, Virginia

- Population: 11,670 - Median home value: $489,800 (76% own) - Median rent: $1,920 (24% rent) - Median household income: $146,435

Cascades is a planned community of about 2,500 acres and 6,500 homes along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia. There is no shortage of recreational opportunities: 15 tennis courts and 10 multipurpose courts, five swimming pools, five community centers, a bocce court, and a soccer field. A boat launch onto the Potomac River is available at the nearby Algonkian Regional Park. Throughout the year, there are yard sales, movie nights by the pool, fun runs, and holiday events.

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#24. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania

- Population: 4,666 - Median home value: $291,900 (85% own) - Median rent: $1,069 (15% rent) - Median household income: $102,722

Close to Pennsylvania State University, Boalsburg is believed to have originated Memorial Day, and each year it hosts a traditional celebration complete with a parade, military reenactments, and a walk to the cemetery. The Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum has what are said to be two pieces of the True Cross of Jesus that the bishop of Leon in Spain gave to the Columbus family.

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#23. Ottawa Hills, Ohio

- Population: 4,436 - Median home value: $300,800 (85% own) - Median rent: $1,203 (15% rent) - Median household income: $139,559

Ottawa Hills is a suburb of Toledo that sits on both sides of the Ottawa River. Its development began in 1915 as "a scenic home park,” according to a booklet from the E.H. Close Realty Company. The village offers a variety of classes, provides a Community House for use by residents, and has its own publication, The Village Voice of Ottawa Hills.

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#22. Long Grove, Illinois

- Population: 7,978 - Median home value: $657,200 (99% own) - Median rent: $2,688 (1% rent) - Median household income: $208,250

Long Grove was Illinois’ first historic district, and it recently embraced that history by reopening a one-lane covered bridge. Its German heritage is evident in some of the annual festivals it is known for, among them an Apple Fest, a Strawberry Fest, and a Chocolate Fest, a Cocoa Crawl,a Craft Beer Festival, and a Scarecrow Day. The village is northwest of Chicago, and its schools are highly rated.

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#21. Elm Grove, Wisconsin

- Population: 6,172 - Median home value: $362,200 (93% own) - Median rent: $955 (7% rent) - Median household income: $115,972

West of Milwaukee, Elm Grove dates to the mid-1800s. Its main road, Watertown Plank Road, was at first literally made up of 650,000 white oak planks laid down to make the journey from Milwaukee to Watertown easier. Another story about its settling: A group of nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame—whose horse pulling their wagon stopped and refused to go further—established a convent, school, and orphanage there. Today the community is a sanctuary for birds, and volunteers step forward for the Friends of the Elm Grove Library, the Sunset Playhouse, and other groups.

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#20. Brighton, New York

- Population: 36,447 - Median home value: $175,200 (58% own) - Median rent: $1,005 (42% rent) - Median household income: $75,812

A suburb of Rochester that was established in 1814, the town was originally hunting grounds for the Seneca, then farmland (at first for grains and then fruits and flowers) on the Erie Canal, and then a brick-making center. With the growth of Rochester and its industrial development, wealthy residents began building outside of the city, and Brighton became the top suburb in the county. Today it is fully built up with homes and office buildings.

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#19. Prairie Village, Kansas

- Population: 22,048 - Median home value: $261,500 (78% own) - Median rent: $1,321 (22% rent) - Median household income: $88,635

Shawnee, Osage, and Kansa once lived on the land that is now Prairie Village, part of the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area. As settlers moved west, families stopped to farm in and around the area. In the 1940s, the land was turned into housing for returning servicemen and their families. Today, there is the Village Fest, a jazz festival, art shows, a pool, and a park pavilion.

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#18. Creve Coeur, Missouri

- Population: 18,445 - Median home value: $399,400 (69% own) - Median rent: $1,211 (31% rent) - Median household income: $100,735

Part of the greater St. Louis area, Creve Coeur got its name from the nearby Creve Coeur Lake, a phrase which means “heartbreak” in French. According to legend, an Native American woman fell in love with a French trapper and, when he did not return her feelings, jumped from a ledge above the lake. It is made up of homes, businesses, parks, and high-tech office parks, and besides its good schools, it is home to the Missouri Baptist University. It also has a golf course and a farmers market.

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#17. Innsbrook, Virginia

- Population: 8,549 - Median home value: $355,600 (60% own) - Median rent: $1,152 (40% rent) - Median household income: $88,428

Developed in 1979, Innsbrook mixes offices, apartments, and condominiums on 800 acres connected via hiking trails and other green spaces. Part of the Richmond area, it calls itself a mixed-use community for new urbanism, with 500 companies and 20,000 employees. Nearby are single-family homes, townhouses, and other styles of homes. Some yearly events: Innsbrook Classic Golf Tournament, Innsbrook Taste of Virginia, and a midweek concert series, Innsbrook After Hours.

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#16. Brentwood, Missouri

- Population: 8,023 - Median home value: $222,200 (64% own) - Median rent: $1,225 (36% rent) - Median household income: $79,469

Brentwood is a suburb of St. Louis. It was on the Manchester Trail and originally called Maddenville after a businessman who owned a grocery store and barbershop. It incorporated in 1919 and became Brentwood. Brentwood Days is the community’s yearly festival of live music, food, carnival rides, and a parade, culminating in fireworks.

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#15. Jericho, New York

- Population: 13,827 - Median home value: $772,900 (84% own) - Median rent: $2,044 (16% rent) - Median household income: $161,771

Jericho is a suburb of New York City, a hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island in the town of Oyster Bay with good schools. The English who settled here were Quakers, and a Friends meeting house was built in the late 1788. There was a stop on the Underground Railroad, the network helping to move slaves to freedom, in one of the colonial houses in Jericho that has since been designated a historic landmark. The 1820-established Jericho Cider Mill is still in operation.

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#14. Short Pump, Virginia

- Population: 27,526 - Median home value: $403,100 (60% own) - Median rent: $1,366 (40% rent) - Median household income: $109,384

Short Pump is a suburb of Richmond that got its name from a pump at a tavern dating from the early 1800s along what was then the main road between Richmond and Charlottesville. It’s in Henrico County and boasts Short Pump Park, which has a dog park, athletic fields, spots to picnic, and a 1902 two-room schoolhouse that has been restored.

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#13. Madeira, Ohio

- Population: 9,091 - Median home value: $281,100 (91% own) - Median rent: $986 (9% rent) - Median household income: $112,513

Madeira is in the Greater Cincinnati area, incorporated in 1910 and developed along the railroad line between Cincinnati and Parkersburg, West Virginia. It promotes its strong schools, small-town feeling, and a main shopping area that can be walked to from almost anywhere in town.

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#12. North Potomac, Maryland

- Population: 24,148 - Median home value: $663,300 (83% own) - Median rent: $2,130 (17% rent) - Median household income: $159,232

North Potomac is a suburb of Washington, D.C., near Gaithersburg and the Potomac River, with good schools and safe streets. It is about 7 square miles and features a North Potomac Citizens Association established to speak for the area. The Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center is next to Big Pines Local Park, with a basketball court, tennis courts, and a place to picnic.

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#11. Cinco Ranch, Texas

- Population: 16,977 - Median home value: $362,100 (83% own) - Median rent: $1,375 (17% rent) - Median household income: $139,420

Cinco Ranch is a planned community in the Greater Houston area with excellent schools and roots as a working ranch in the 1800s. Its transition began in 1984, and today it has 14,000 homes, as well as parks, trails, pools, tennis courts, a golf club, and other opportunities for outdoor activities. There’s also a library, a women’s club, and swim teams.

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#10. South Kensington, Maryland

- Population: 8,769 - Median home value: $736,300 (90% own) - Median rent: $2,164 (10% rent) - Median household income: $181,941

South Kensington is a suburb of Washington, D.C. Some sites nearby to visit include Kensington Cabin Local Park, a 4-acre park with tennis courts, softball fields, and a basketball court, and Rock Creek Regional Park, which offers archery and places to picnic.

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#9. Stone Ridge, Virginia

- Population: 12,990 - Median home value: $454,900 (88% own) - Median rent: $2,339 (12% rent) - Median household income: $143,140

Stone Ridge is in Loudoun County near Dulles International Airport. It’s a planned community of condominiums, townhouses, and single-family houses. There’s a clubhouse with a fitness center, pools, tot lots, tennis courts, a basketball court, and other outdoor amenities. The schools are top-rated.

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#8. Morrisville, North Carolina

- Population: 25,007 - Median home value: $317,700 (48% own) - Median rent: $1,330 (52% rent) - Median household income: $96,489

Morrisville is part of the Research Triangle, and its motto is “Live connected. Live well.” It is the oldest community in Wake County and named for Jeremiah Morris, who donated land to the North Carolina Railroad, along which the town was built. On April 13, 1865, it was the site of one of the last battles of the Civil War. It has a community center, pools, and other recreational amenities, as well as good schools.

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#7. Houserville, Pennsylvania

- Population: 2,013 - Median home value: $220,200 (88% own) - Median rent: $1,172 (12% rent) - Median household income: $88,583

Houserville is part of the greater State College area. Its schools are excellent, and it offers a community garden. It’s also close to Spring Creek Park, with its covered bridge, 62-acre Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, and the Pennsylvania Military Museum.

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#6. Richmond Heights, Missouri

- Population: 8,457 - Median home value: $247,500 (55% own) - Median rent: $1,010 (45% rent) - Median household income: $78,481

Richmond Heights is a suburb of St. Louis. Its development, The Boulevard-St. Louis, is an example of the “new urbanism,” combining shops, homes, and office space. The community’s motto is “Progress with Tradition.” It has top-ranked schools and a 73,000-square-foot library and community center housing one of the largest municipal fitness centers in the area.

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#5. Clarendon Hills, Illinois

- Population: 8,711 - Median home value: $561,700 (84% own) - Median rent: $985 (16% rent) - Median household income: $126,500

The village of Clarendon Hills calls itself The Volunteer Community. It’s a suburb of Chicago with excellent schools, a summer concert series, and a weekend of carnival rides, face-painting, games, music, and other events called Daisy Days. The community grew up around the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and the noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted helped to design its curved streets.

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#4. Los Alamos, New Mexico

- Population: 12,373 - Median home value: $295,600 (68% own) - Median rent: $1,007 (32% rent) - Median household income: $106,288

Los Alamos is known for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where during World War II the first atomic bomb was developed, and the laboratory remains a top employer. A 45-minute drive from Santa Fe, it is also the gateway to three national parks: Bandelier National Monument, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. It was the home of Pueblo people, ancestors of current Native Americans. Schools are also top-rated.

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#3. Okemos, Michigan

- Population: 23,912 - Median home value: $231,100 (61% own) - Median rent: $965 (39% rent) - Median household income: $78,080

Okemos is a suburb of Lansing, Michigan’s capital, and near Michigan State University. It was founded in 1839 and was a trading post with the Ojibwa nation. First called Hamilton, it was later named for a chief, John Okemos, of the Saginaw Chippewa. It was originally a farming community.

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#2. Holly Hills, Colorado

- Population: 2,909 - Median home value: $426,500 (93% own) - Median rent: $2,634 (7% rent) - Median household income: $136,176

Holly Hills is about halfway between downtown Denver and the nearby Denver Tech Center. Residents describe it as family-friendly, with great schools that preclude having to move to the suburbs. It’s close to all of Metro Denver and stands out for the availability of housing, low cost of living, the quality of its public schools, and the diversity of its residents.

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#1. Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania

- Population: 4,714 - Median home value: $312,800 (78% own) - Median rent: $1,813 (22% rent) - Median household income: $119,010

Chesterbrook is about 20 miles from Philadelphia near the Valley Forge National Historical Park. Its schools are among the top in Pennsylvania. It is also noted for its outdoor activities and nightlife, as well as the diversity of the community, and it has been repeatedly ranked as one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

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