Best PlacesBy CNNMoney Editors

With the current state of the economy -- and the dispiriting sight of the nation's leaders endlessly battling about how to fix it -- the phrase "small town" conjures up images of a happier time. When unemployment wasn't above 9%. When people didn't stress out about home values. When school budgets weren't under siege. Those were the days, right?

"Those days" are right now -- if you know where to go. A team of seven MONEY reporters spent months combing through reams of data provided by OnBoard Informatics and other sources and fanning out across the country to identify small towns (those with populations of less than 50,000) that stand out in the qualities American families care about most.

The goal: Find the best combination of job opportunities, fiscal strength, top-notch schools, safe streets, good healthcare, cultural and outdoor activities, even nice weather. The result: MONEY's 100 Best Places to Live. The top 20 follow.





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Author Ron Stack

Florida should be looked at especially because it is off the radar right now. Best asset protection state in the US, no state income tax and you can steal a home at 60% off right now. No other state can claim that.

October 10 2011 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pplea23676

how is thise

August 16 2011 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Florida is lovely - please come spend your money and then go home.

August 15 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JC

Cedar City, Utah. Population 29000, home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, nearly nonexistent crime, average summer high of 90 with no humidity, $60 hotel rooms, and nearly unlimited outdoor activities.

August 15 2011 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

I have lived in many places. Central Texas was the best. Most affordable, nicest people, low crime, low traffic, low pollution, great food, etc. BUT - the hot humid weather gets darn near unbearable, and the lush green landscape is murder on your allergies.

August 15 2011 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
z4rock

I love the "High Desert." Put me anywhere between the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail where I can see mountains.

Gary
Reno, NV

August 15 2011 at 5:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
goldmakers

I live in Maine and have lived many places except the NW. 4 seasons Hot, Colds, Wet, Mountains, Rivers, lakes, Ocean, even a small desert. Truly a nice place to raise children, nad live cheaply. But it is just like all of America today; it's subject to "change"

August 15 2011 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
paigeotron1

I can hardly believe no cities or towns in Hawaii were included. Not only do we have by far the best weather of all 50 states, but unemployment is always lower than the mainland average. Yes, utilies such as water and electricity as well as gasoline are higher here, but considering you don't need a furnace, (in fact most homes don't have any type of heating in them at all and many have no air conditioning because it isn't necessary) the extra other costs are mostly offset. Yes, housing prices are higher, but no higher than comparable places in southern California, for instance.

August 15 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to paigeotron1's comment
hgeorgech

uh ... would think that living in HI would be a bit ... shall we say, "islolated"? Would be a great place for someone in the Witness Protection Program!

August 16 2011 at 6:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ltchawaii

I'm happy if they leave Hawaii out. We have just the right number of people here. It's just fine if people stay on the mainland with all of "non isolation" of smog and crime.

November 09 2011 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robbie

i HAVE LIVED ALL OVER THE U.S. MAINE WAS SO GORGEOUS YEAR AROUND AND THE PEOPLE ARE HONEST. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA USED TO BE FULL OF NICE LITTLE TOWNS, RIVERSIDE WAS NICE IN THE 50S. COAST OF OREGON AT BROOKINGS IS STILL NICE AND NOT OVERGROWN. LOVE FRED MEYER SHOPPING! TEXAS WAS A MIXED BAG. UPSTATE,NY IS VERY PRETTY MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS. I WAS BORN IN KANSAS, NO PLANS TO RETURN! iLLINOIS HAS GROWN TOO BIG. MY LITTLE AURORA WHERE I USED TO WALK WITH MY SMALL CHILDREN IN THE EARLY 50s IS SO DIFFERENT NOW WITH LOTS OF CRIME. FOUND FRIENDS EVERYWHERE I WENT. AS A NURSE IT WAS EASY TO FIND JOBS.
ROBBIE

August 15 2011 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ghezzi

News: Top 20 Places to Live - CNN (2 in MN)

August 15 2011 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply