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1. Sharon, MA
Sharon, MA
1
Top 50 rank: 1
Population: 17,944

This New England town is surrounded by a wealth of good jobs in Boston, Providence, and the Route 128 tech corridor. That helped insulate Sharon from the worst of the recession and ignited its rapid recovery.

A half-hour train ride from Boston or Providence, this one-time summer resort has the natural beauty of a more remote place. Forty percent remains open space, and the town jewel, Lake Massapoag, offers a place for residents to swim, picnic, and enjoy concerts on Memorial Beach.

Sharon's schools are a big draw for families. So is its diversity. The town has seven synagogues, nine churches, and one of New England's largest Islamic mosques. Nearly 30% of students in public school are nonwhite, and 18% speak a language other than English at home. --Donna Rosato

Watch: In Sharon, MA, you can live big – or small

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Sharon, MA
Town stats
Median family income (per year)
$139,850
Job growth % (2010-2012)
5.31%
Median home price (2012)
$375,000
Reading test scores (% above/below average)
34.9%
Math test scores (% above/below average)
40.0%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000)
0
Property crime incidents (per 1,000)
8
Financials
Town stats
Median family income (per year)
$139,850
Family purchasing power (annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$99,276
Sales tax (state)
6.25%
State income tax rate (highest bracket)
5.25%I
State income tax rate (lowest bracket)
5.25%I
Auto insurance premiums (Average price quotes, for the state)
N.A.
Job growth % (2010-2012)
5.31%
Housing
Median home price (2012)
$375,000
Average property taxes
(2012)
$8,103
Education
Reading test scores (% above/below state average)
34.9%
Test scores math (% above/below average)
40.0%
% students attending public/private schools (located within town limits)
92.1/7.9
Quality of life
Air quality index* (% of days AQI ranked as good)
91.6%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000)
0
Property crime incidents (per 1,000)
8
Median commute time (in minutes)
33.3
% population with commute 45 mins. or longer
36.3%
% population walk or bike to work
1.0%
Leisure and culture
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts)
1.2
Weather
Annual rainfall (inches)
42.53
% clear days in the area
55%
High temp in July ° F
82.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F
17.7°
Meet the neighbors
Median age
42.9
Completed at least some college (% of residents)
82.8%
Married %
66.2%
Divorced %
2.9%
Racial diversity index (100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
72.1
From the September 2013 issue

Source: Onboard Informatics. Details


(I) Income tax notes:
17 states have statutory provision for automatically adjusting to the rate of inflation the dollar values of the income tax brackets, standard deductions, and/or personal exemptions. Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska index the personal exemption only. Oregon does not index the income brackets for $125,000 and over.
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Money picked the top 100. Now it's your turn: Which town will be our fan favorite? 'Like' your town and it might just make it to No. 1.

Town # of Likes
1. Sharon, MA 11,944
2. Apex, NC 10,710
3. Westford, MA 6,014
4. Peachtree City, GA 5,623
5. Hillsborough, NJ 5,323
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Using statistics from data services company Onboard Informatics and other sources, we crunched the numbers in order to zero in on America's best small towns for families. (Last year, we looked at small cities, with populations between 50,000 and 300,000.) More

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