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America's hottest towns: West
Incomes are high. Home prices are rising ever higher. Here's where people are moving.
March 22, 2005: 5:30 PM EST
Population: 271,090
Pop. increase from 1990: 113%
Median household income: $82,857
Median home price: $191,520
Population: 49,898
Pop. increase from 1990: 205%
Median household income: $84,159
Median home price: $350,000
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NEW YORK (Money Magazine) - These two places, Plano, Tex. and Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., topped our rankings of the most desirable places to live in the western United States. For the complete list of top-ranked places to live click here.

Plano, Tex.

Nothing plain about it A burgeoning burg 20 miles north of Dallas, Plano has for years been collecting plaques from business and community groups praising everything from its schools and parks to its municipal budgets and solid-waste-treatment plants. In part, Plano has Ross Perot to thank.

In 1985, his Electronic Data Systems was the first company to set up shop in a business park in the dusty plains of northwest Plano. Frito-Lay soon followed. Today, the town and its outskirts are home to 21 of Dallas-Fort Worth's more than 260 publicly traded companies. The community that has developed is both upscale and caring--a children's clinic regularly provides free medical treatment to kids without health insurance.

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

The ultimate commuter's compound Southern Californians commute for a living, literally, and Rancho Santa Margarita residents tip the scale at just over 33 minutes on the road each way, on average. The trade-off is pristine California living in a highly planned community where little is left to chance.

Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, 5,000-acre Rancho Santa Margarita was incorporated only in 2000 and is almost an homage to urban planning, with palm trees evenly spaced and traffic lights synchronized to the second. There are 10 parks, four pools, numerous recreational fields and a man-made swimming lagoon, all held in common and maintained with dues paid into a homeowners' association.  Top of page

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