Money's list of America's best small cities


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23. Cary, NC
Cary
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 23
Population: 130,000
Compare Cary to Top 10 Best Places
This town in the heart of North Carolina's Research Triangle boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, AAA bond ratings from Moody's, and an unemployment rate below the country's average.

Cary is even Martha Stewart-approved: The domestic goods tycoon collaborated with developer KB Homes to design and construct her own subdivision within the town.

Sports lovers will rejoice that Cary is hosting finals in college sports ranging from baseball to tennis as part of the NCAA's Championship City pilot program.

One drawback: Fast growth has resulted in school overcrowding. --J.S.

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Is Cary a great town, or what?
Cary stats
  City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$110,707 $90,957
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
26.02% 15.71%
See jobs near Cary
Median home price $252,500 $239,391
See Cary homes for sale
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
45.9% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
32.6% 22.9%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 18 24
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
2,422 2,967
High temp in July ° F 88.8° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 30.2° 21.3°
Median age 35.2 35.3
Financial City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$110,707 $90,957
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$111,566 $86,860
State sales tax 5.75% 5.45%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
7.75%I 7.35%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
6.00%I 2.96%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,511 $1,707
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
26.02% 15.71%
See jobs near Cary
Housing
Median home price $252,500 $239,391
Average property taxes
(2009)
$2,371 $3,418
See Cary homes for sale
Education
Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
12 25
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
45.9% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
32.6% 22.9%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
86.8/13.2 87.8/12.2
Quality of life
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
66.0% 77.8%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 18 24
Median commute time (in minutes) 21.2 21.4
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
7.5% 13.6%
% population walk or bike to work 1.8% 3.6%
Leisure and culture
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
29 31
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
2,422 2,967
Bars
(within 15 miles)
138 207
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
99 162
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
42 72
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
5 10
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) N.A. 12
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 1.0 1.5
Weather
Annual rainfall
(inches)
45.69 37.40
% clear days in the area 30 29
High temp in July ° F 88.8° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 30.2° 21.3°
Median age 35.2 35.3
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
83.8% 71.5%
Married % 63.6% 56.6%
Divorced % 6.8% 8.4%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
117.6 94.9
From the August 2010 issue
Notes: *County data

(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 $100,000. Lower exemption amounts allowed for high-income taxpayers. For tax years 2009 and 2010, a surcharge that equals 2% of total liability for taxpayers with income over $60,000 single filer ($100,000 joint) and 3% of total liability for income over $150,000 ($250,000).
These states allow personal exemption or standard deductions as provided in the IRC.
Galleries & video
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Find Your Best Places
Region
Northeast South
Midwest West
Ranking
Top 100 winners only
Population
8.4M
46,000
Home Prices
2009 median sales prices
$1.2M
$36K
Video
Using statistics from data provider 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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