Money's list of America's best small cities


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65. Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill
Students around the Old Well on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 65C
Population: 49,900
Compare Chapel Hill to Top 10 Best Places
Chapel Hill is home to a little school you may have heard of (hint: it's the oldest public university in the country). But even if you're past your dorm days, the town has plenty to offer.

Arts and entertainment are a significant part of life here. There are two museums, a historic planetarium, a botanical garden and dozens of pubs and concert venues in the town's 20 square miles to keep your senses stimulated and your heart content.

UNC's reputation has trickled down to the public school district, where East Chapel Hill High is consistently ranked as one of the nation's best high schools. What's more, the town's relatively low tax rates mean your hard-earned dollars will go far.

Median family income
(per year)
$93,470 $93,313
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$73,367 $84,802
Sales tax 6.75% 6.60%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
8.00%I 5.22%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
6.00%I 2.42%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,816 $1,854
Job growth %
(2000-2007)
3.94% 18.60%
Median home price $275,750 $293,712
Average property taxes
(2007)
$3,458 $4,072
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Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
11 40
Junior colleges and
technical institutes (within 30 miles)
7 20
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
15.0% 17.3%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
25.4% 16.6%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
90.6/8.3 89.5/10.5
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
68.7% 76.0%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 5 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 44 25
Median commute time
(in minutes)
16.2 23.0
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
5.2% 15.8%
% population walk or bike to work 18.1% 3.0%
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
16 51
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
1,160 4,141
Bars
(within 15 miles)
70 338
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
107 242
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
26 90
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
5 11
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) N.A. 13
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 1.2 1.5
Annual rainfall
(inches)
46.38 36.31
% clear days in the area 30 30
High temp in July ° F 88.8° 87.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F 28.4° 22.9°
Has health plan
(% of residents)
85.5% 88.2%
Body mass index (avg. for residents) 26 27
Diabetes rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
9.6% 9.6%
Hypertension rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
27.6% 27.3%
Median age 26.5 36.0
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
89.1% 73.6%
Married 33.2% 57.5%
Divorced 5.2% 8.3%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
108.3 104.0
Amount spent on vacations
(domestic and foreign, household avg. per year)
$7,906 $8,012
From the August 2008 issue
Notes:
* County data
** State data
(C) = Only cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000 were eligible for this year's Best Places to Live list.
(I) Income tax notes:
The tax brackets reported are for single individuals. For married taxpayers, the same rates apply to income brackets ranging from $21,250 to $200,000. Lower exemption amounts allowed for high income taxpayers. Tax rate scheduled to decrease after tax year 2007.
These states allow personal exemption or standard deductions as provided in the IRC. Utah allows a personal exemption equal to three-fourths the federal exemptions.
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Some data may be provided courtesy of its partners.
Sperling's Best Places
Additional data and consulting services provided by Bert Sperling's bestplaces.net.
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Top 3

City Median income
New Canaan, CT $231,138
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Lake Forest, IL $212,122
City % single
Hoboken, NJ 57.7%
Cambridge, MA 52.4%
Somerville, MA 51.4%
City Median home price
Nicholasville, KY $70,000
Watauga, TX $117,040
Redan, GA $115,000
Using statistics from data provider Onboard Informatics and consultant Bert Sperling of BestPlaces.net, 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 7,500 and 50,000.) More
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