Money's list of America's best small towns


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4. Middleton, WI
Middleton
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 4
Population: 16,900
Unemployment: 5.9%*
Compare Middleton to Top 10 Best Places
Residents of Middleton, which ranked No. 1 on Money's 2007 Best Places list, are just 7 miles from Madison -- Wiscon≠sin's cosmopolitan capital. But they don't need to leave home to find things to do; Middleton has a downtown with plenty of res≠taurants, boutiques, and small businesses.

Newer developments--includ≠ing Greenway Station, a hub for upscale retailers and restau≠rants, and Middleton Hills, a mixed-use community inspired by the designs of Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright--have been thoughtfully planned, folks who live here say.

As for the economy, Madison's major employers (the state government and one of the nation's largest state universities) are about as stable as you can get. And within Middleton, large employers include the University of Wisconsin Foundation and medical research development firm PPD.

The resulting tax base has helped the town maintain its top-notch school system and 1,000-acre network of parks, bike paths, and running and cross-country ski trails. That helps make the frigid winters more bearable.

Is Middleton a great town, or what?
Middleton stats
Median family income
(per year)
$95,342 $97,441
Job growth %
(2000-2008)*
5.81% 19.58%
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Median home price $235,650 $262,148
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Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
24.2% 25.6%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
33.8% 28.2%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 1
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 27 19
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
1,003 1,923
High temp in July ° F* 82.2° 85.5°
Low temp in Jan ° F* 6.9° 21.0°
Median age 38.6 36.6
Median family income
(per year)
$95,342 $97,441
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$96,305 $95,041
State sales tax 5.00% 5.63%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
6.75%I 6.06%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
4.60%I 3.07%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,295 $1,744
Job growth %
(2000-2008)*
5.81% 19.58%
See jobs near Middleton
Median home price $235,650 $262,148
Average property taxes
(2007)
$4,704 $3,853
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Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
2 20
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
24.2% 25.6%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
33.8% 28.2%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
100.0/0.0 90.1/9.9
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
76.0% 78.6%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 1
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 27 19
Median commute time (in minutes) 16.3 22.5
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
3.6% 13.8%
% population walk or bike to work 2.7% 2.3%
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
13 24
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
1,003 1,923
Bars
(within 15 miles)
176 174
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
70 148
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
51 53
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
3 7
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 25 17
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 0.7 1.2
Annual rainfall
(inches)
34.10 39.77
% clear days in the area 24 27
High temp in July ° F* 82.2° 85.5°
Low temp in Jan ° F* 6.9° 21.0°
Median age 38.6 36.6
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
84.5% 71.9%
Married % 53.5% 62.9%
Divorced % 11.2% 7.7%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
38.5 58.9
From the August 2009 issue
Notes:
* County data

(I) Income tax notes:
Values adjusted for inflation each year.
Some states effectively double the bracket widths for joint filers (AL, AZ, CT, HI, ID, KS, LA, ME, NE, NY, OR). CA doubles all bracket widths except the $1,000,000 bracket. Some states increase, but don't double, all or some bracket widths for joint filers (GA, MN, NM, NC, ND, OK, RI, VT, WI). Some states do not adjust their brackets for joint filers (AR, DE, IA, KY, MS, MO, MT, OH, SC, VA, WV, DC). Of these states, some permit married couples to file separately to avoid a marriage penalty, and some allow joint filers to make an adjustment to reduce their tax after it is calculated. MD decreases some of its bracket widths and increases others. NJ adds a 2.45% rate and doubles some bracket widths.
Deduction phases out to zero for single filers at $87,500 and joint filers at $99,736.
FORTUNE 500
Johnson Controls 58
Northwestern Mutual 118
See the rest
Money picked the top 100. Now itís your turn: Which town will be our fan favorite? Become a fan of your town and it might just make it to No. 1. Results updated monthly.
Town Become a fan # of fans
1. Louisville, CO Become a fan on facebook Add me! 4,256
2. Chanhassen, MN Become a fan on facebook Add me! 2,410
3. Papillion, NE Become a fan on facebook Add me! 1,581
4. Middleton, WI Become a fan on facebook Add me! 1,481
5. Milton, MA Become a fan on facebook Add me! 1,425
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Using statistics from data provider Onboard Informatics, 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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