20 years of Best Places

Money's top places have always had great schools, reasonable housing and a genuine sense of community. For many, the trick today is to maintain those virtues when everyone wants to move in. Here is an update on seven past winners.

Gainesville, Fla. (1995)
Considered Gainesville's cultural center, the Thomas Center is housed in a beautifully restored Mediterranean Revival-style hotel.
Gainesville, Fla. (1995)
 
1995 96,100 2.9% $89,900
2007 120,900 2.5% $216,400


Gainesville led the country in employment growth in 1995. It was a place where you could work in town, live in the wilderness and have a maximum 30-minute commute. A typical three-bedroom cost just $82,000. The University of Florida and its 50,000 students were, and remain, central to Gainesville's job boom and identity.

Today unemployment is still low and the city is in the throes of a go-green campaign; Gainesville Regional Utilities is the efficiency leader of all Florida utilities, drastically reducing customers' energy usage. And despite expansion in outlying communities, the city has largely escaped the overbuilding that plagues much of Florida.

Two things Gainesville hasn't escaped: housing-price escalation and crime. That $82,000 house will cost you $200,000 today. And the city has seen an uptick in crime, particularly drug-related incidents. On the upside, everybody knows the Gators now; Florida's football team won the national championship this year, and the basketball team grabbed the same title for the second year in a row.

Biggest development since 1995: In 2006 the university received funding for a new center to fight infectious diseases, opened a genetics research complex and treated its first patients at its new Proton Therapy Institute in nearby Jacksonville.

Nashua, N.H.

Seattle

Rochester, Minn.

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill

Gainesville, Fla.

Charlottesville, Va.

Sarasota
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.