There is a genuine quaintness and quality about small towns. I grew up in one (Montrose, Colorado) where everyone essentially knew everyone and the sense of community was important.
Money Magazine has ranked the top 50 small towns across the country, but not on beauty and charm, but a matrix of quality-of-life and economic factors. This wasn’t just cursory a look either, but a detailed drill-down. Considerations of the towns included:
- Median family income
- Family purchasing power (annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
- Sales tax (state)
- State income tax rate (highest and lowest brackets)
- Auto insurance premiums (average price quotes for the state)
- Job growth percent (2010-2012)
- Median home price
- Average property taxes (2012)
- Reading test scores (percentage above or below the state average)
- Match test scores (percentage above or below the state average)
- Percent of students attending public/private schools (located within town limits)
- Air quality index (percent of days AQI ranked as Good)
- Personal crime incidents (per 1,000)
- Property crime incidents (per 1,000)
- Median commute time (minutes)
- Percent of population with commute 45 minutes or greater)
- Percent of population that walk or bike to work
- Annual rainfall (inches)
- Percent of clear days in the area
- High temperature in July
- Low temperature in January
- Median age
- Percent of residents completing at least some college
- Percent married, divorced
- Racial diversity index (national average is 100, higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
- Arts funding (dollars per person of state funds spent on the arts)
Onboard Informatics, which provides a vast array of real estate and local market data to real estate professionals, assembled the above data for 1,326 U.S. towns with populations ranging from 10,000 to 50,000. They excluded markets where the local median average income was more than 200 percent of the state median, and those with incomes less than 85 percent. Other exclusions included markets made up with 95 percent or greater of one race, or poor education and crime scores. Ditto retirement communities and towns with major job losses.
Those surviving the cuts were then ranked on ”job growth, housing appreciation and affordability, safety, schools, health care, arts. Leisure, diversity and ease of living”. To read the details on the ranking and selection process, click http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2013/faq/
So who were the winners?
To see the full list of the top 50 small towns, click http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2013/full_list/?iid=BPL_sp_full
Want to read the detail information on each of the 50 cities included in the study, and also see listings of homes available for sale within those markets? Click http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2013/snapshots/CS2560785.html?iid=BPL_sp_list
If I could pick my favorite small town, I believe it would be Fredericksburg, Texas.
What is your favorite small town?