Great American towns
Americans are flocking to places that offer big-city opportunity and amenities - with a lot more green space and a lot less stress.
(MONEY Magazine) -- When it comes to a place to live and raise a family, most Americans want two things: the opportunity for themselves and their children to prosper, and a quality of life that lets them enjoy the fruits of their work. For several generations, that's meant moving from big, crowded cities to the suburbs.
Along with that, however, have come major compromises like a long commute and a certain lack of community and cultural life.The solution seems obvious: Combine the vibrancy of the city with the comforts of the suburbs.
So for this year's installment of Best Places to Live, we set out to find small livable cities that had the best possible blend of good jobs, low crime, quality schools, plenty of open space, rational home prices and lots to do.
The following gives a closer look at our top 10 Best Places to Live. Many of our picks started as small towns on the edge of metropolitan areas and blossomed into destinations in their own right, like No. 1, Fort Collins, Colo. Founded as a military outpost 60 miles north of Denver in 1864, the city is now home to 128,000 people, a thriving tech industry and the main campus of Colorado State University.
Other choices, like Naperville, Ill., started out as traditional suburban towns and really started to grow as companies followed their workers out of older cities. Still others were sleepy places like Sugar Land, Texas, whose low costs attracted residential and commercial developers, as well as big corporations that transformed the area in less than a generation.
It's worth noting that eight of our top 10 are removed from the traditional - and pricey - power centers of the coasts."These places are the new suburbia, increasingly independent from traditional metropolises," says economic historian Joel Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History.
"They offer a quality of life that is hard to find on the coasts anymore: affordable single-family homes, short commutes and good jobs. For many people, these are very good choices for living." Those who live there, you'll find, couldn't agree more.