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Top 10 best places to live in 2011 – America’s top small towns

Historic downtown Louisville, CO. Photo by Daniel Spiess.

Best places to live

CNN Money has released their 2011 Best Places to Live list, outlining what they have deemed to be America’s best small towns. They analysed financial factors, housing, quality of life, education and other factors to determine the top ten, with Louisville, CO taking the top spot.

Below are the top ten towns with #1 being the winner:

  1. Louisville, CO
  2. Milton, MA
  3. Solon, OH
  4. Leesburg, VA
  5. Papillion, NE
  6. Hanover, NH
  7. Liberty, MO
  8. Middleton, WI
  9. Mukilteo, WA
  10. Chanhassen, MN

Financial data on the top ten towns

Looking at CNN Money’s top ten list from strictly a financial perspective makes one question if Leesburg, VA should have been the front runner over Louisville, CO. Nearly 50 percent job growth in just ten years? That is impressive.

  1. Louisville, CO – 3.07% job growth (2000-2010), median family income per year $104,222
  2. Milton, MA – -1.76% job growth, median income $121,355
  3. Solon, OH – 2.90% job growth, median income $110,762
  4. Leesburg, VA – 47.16% job growth, median income $128,595
  5. Papillion, NE – 32.75% job growth, median income $92,430
  6. Hanover, NH – -3.71% job growth, median income $120,957
  7. Liberty, MO – 11.98% job growth, median income $77,429
  8. Middleton, WI – 8.85% job growth, median income $104,456
  9. Mukilteo, WA – 13.58% job growth, median income $104,939
  10. Chanhassen, MN – 25.62% job growth, median income $123,580

Median home prices

After looking at income and job growth, it is interesting to see that some small towns are certainly more affordable than others and a wide range of median home prices is represented by the top ten list.

  1. Louisville, CO – $342,000
  2. Milton, MA – $425,965
  3. Solon, OH – $220,000
  4. Leesburg, VA – $279,250
  5. Papillion, NE – $145,000
  6. Hanover, NH – $355,000
  7. Liberty, MO – $137,574
  8. Middleton, WI – $250,000
  9. Mukilteo, WA – $379,950
  10. Chanhassen, MN – $324,000

Other factors to consider

Most of these areas have low crime, high quality of life and great job growth, but we noticed the list leans away from the South (arguably the home of small town mentality) and favors mostly northern cities as can be seen by the fact that no city exceeds 87.5 degrees as their high temperature in July. Every town in the top ten exceeds the average for percentage of residents who have completed at least some college, yet the divorce rates in these areas is higher than the national average in most cases.

It is an interesting study of what makes small towns “the best” to live in, and although the list is certainly lacking in Southern small towns, the data shows that these top ten small towns are economically stable and appealing to residents.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Sheila Rasak

    August 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I'll relocate after I help the area residents in Ventura County! Thanks for the 411 on the Top 10.

  2. Jen

    August 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    REally Muklkteo, WA? Huge drug problems there. HUGE! Student drop out rate is well above national average.

  3. Jen

    August 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    How can I even view the other comments. I'm not really interested in who twittered what. But viewing comments would be interesting. It lists 26, but I can only see 2, presumably the last two. Please advise- Thanks.

  4. Joe Loomer

    August 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

    "…although the list is certainly lacking in Southern small towns, the data shows that these top ten small towns are economically stable and appealing to residents…" Indeed – or that CNN Money's correspondents don't like the heat so they never got too far south of the Mason Dixon Line while researching this piece.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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