No. 8. Boise, Idaho
This city, where commuters prefer to ride bikes, ranks eighth on this year's list of Great American Towns.
(MONEY Magazine) -- In Idaho's largest city, people prefer to ride their bikes to work. If commuters have to drive, the trip often takes less than 20 minutes. "There is a low hassle factor here," says Tom Hadzor, 42, owner of a local video production company. "You have more time to enjoy life." Boiseans have a lot to enjoy besides biking (and good potatoes): The city boasts 2,700 acres of green space and trails, with the foothills of the Rocky Mountains serving as a backdrop. The downtown is stocked with boutiques and restaurants, and a three-block-long farmers' market comes to town every Saturday in the summer.
The economy is booming. Boise is headquarters for chip maker Micron and a host of smaller tech concerns, and it's the state capital, which means plenty of government jobs. Unemployment is just 3.1%. While Boise can feel isolated, an expanded airport now means easy access to the West Coast (though getting east is still tough). Both Forbes and Inc. magazines have named the city one of the country's best places to do business.
Opportunity and green space have made Boise a magnet for Californians looking to escape congested freeways and high home costs. As a result, development in the western suburbs is turning farmland into not-so-bucolic sprawl. Property values - and property taxes - are rising fast.
Still, voters recently approved a $94 million bond issue to renovate city schools, where standardized test scores are above average, though not as high as those of richer cities in MONEY's top 10. Then again, people don't come here to chase money. "In Washington people ask where you work or went to school," says Adrienne Swain Smith, 36, who moved to Boise with her husband and two daughters from the East Coast a year ago. "Here it's 'What type of dog do you have?' or 'Where did you get your bike?'