Money's list of America's best small cities


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1. Carmel, IN
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Carmel
Homes on the west side of town
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 1
Population: 80,100
Compare Carmel to Top 10 Best Places
Five years ago Carmel was a quiet, upscale bedroom community that offered an easy 20-minute commute to downtown Indianapolis. Despite the recession, this formerly sleepy burb has since transformed itself into the ideal place to work and play.

Carmel's business district now has the second-largest concentration of office workers in Indiana and an unemployment rate that's just over half the national average.

The city also has excellent schools, a big sports and recreation center, a performing arts center, and wide bike lanes. All that, plus a variety of housing options ranging from older homes to new subdivisions, and you have an irresistible draw for families.

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Carmel stats
  City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$120,714 $96,825
Job growth %
(2000-2011)*
26.44% 25.01%
See jobs near Carmel
Median home price $268,750 $269,768
See Carmel homes for sale
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
35.4% 28.2%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
33.4% 29.2%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 11 20
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
2,240 3,134
High temp in July ° F 84.5° 86.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F 17.0° 18.4°
Median age 34.4 35.2
Financial City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$120,714 $96,825
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$132,072 $93,218
State sales tax 7.00% 5.57%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
3.40%I 7.31%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
3.40%I 3.08%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,518 $1,596
Job growth %
(2000-2011)*
26.44% 25.01%
See jobs near Carmel
Housing
Median home price $268,750 $269,768
Average property taxes
(2010)
$2,203 $6,517
See Carmel homes for sale
Education
Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
12 8
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
35.4% 28.2%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
33.4% 29.2%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
93.8/6.2 91.5/8.5
Quality of life
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
79.3% 77.3%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 11 20
Median commute time (in minutes) 20.9 22.2
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
9.6% 14.9%
% population walk or bike to work 1.2% 3.2%
Leisure and culture
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
24 33
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
2,240 3,134
Bars
(within 15 miles)
221 199
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
154 169
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
54 70
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
8 10
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 2 6
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 0.6 1.4
Weather
Annual rainfall
(inches)
42.85 34.21
% clear days in the area 24 32
High temp in July ° F 84.5° 86.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F 17.0° 18.4°
Median age 34.4 35.2
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
85.0% 72.6%
Married % 72.0% 57.9%
Divorced % 5.2% 8.0%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
53.3 118.4
From the September 2012 issue
Notes: *County data

Due to an error by our data provider, an earlier version listed incorrect stats for this city's number of colleges.

(I) Income tax notes:
In Indiana, includes an additional exemption of $1,500 for each dependent child.
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Using statistics from data services company Onboard Informatics, we crunched the numbers in order to zero in on America's best small cities for families. (Last year, we looked at small towns, with populations between 8,500 and 50,000.) More

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