16 of 100
16. Novato, Calif.
Population: 48,410
Pro: Educated workforce
Con: Competitive labor market

The northernmost city in Marin County, Novato is about 29 miles north of San Francisco and 20 miles from the wine regions of Napa and Sonoma. Still, it's one of the most affordable towns in the Bay Area, with a median home price of $625,500. Birkenstock Footprint Sandals call Novato home, and many software and telecommunications companies are based here. In recent years, the local economy has generated numerous small,knowledge-based startups oriented toward global markets.

As city officials seek out ways to provide more available commercial space, the Novato Independent Business Alliance has rallied to support local businesses and to discourage an influx of big-box retailers.

As the fastest growing community in Marin County, Novato enjoys a healthy influx of new potential workers. The city recently revitalized its 10-block stretch of downtown, making way for additional mixed-use space and attracting new retailers. -Kelsey Abbott

Interactive map: Novato, Calif.
Homes for sale Find homes for sale in Novato, Calif.

NEXT: 17. Santa Fe

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
More Galleries
5 startups that are reimagining the world Bricks that grow from microorganisms, household garbage turned into art, three-wheeled bike-cars -- these startups are redefining urban living. More
Blue collar entrepreneurs These five entrepreneurs took their blue collar experience and used it to launch innovative businesses. More
7 lifehacks to eliminate your holiday hassle Whether curating the perfect gift or finding a pet-sitter, these startups offer time-saving services that might just seem like holiday magic. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.