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.

Charlottesville, Va. (1998)
The Paramount Theater
Charlottesville, Va. (1998)
 
1998 39,100 1.2% $140,000
2007 40,900 2.7% $375,000


Charlottesville was Money's winning city in 1998 on the strength of its public schools, low cost of living and such cultural and scenic assets as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate, the University of Virginia and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The city spent nearly twice as much per pupil as and had far fewer students per class than the national average, and reasonable property taxes and good water quality rounded out the picture.

Since then the city's population has held fairly steady, although the greater Charlottesville area has seen a boom in residents. Money's was one of the first of a host of best-place listings, followed - coincidentally or not - by a near tripling of housing prices in less than a decade. These days a four-bedroom home easily costs $400,000 - and that's before you update the kitchen. In response, city officials have lowered property taxes. Charlottesville's historic downtown walking mall has more than 30 restaurants, a 1930s movie palace turned performing arts center and a new 3,500-seat open-air pavilion, which brings in national acts three seasons of the year.

Biggest development since 1998: The John Paul Jones Arena, a 16,000-seat indoor stadium and the largest arena in the state, was built.

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.