Money's list of America's best small cities

3 of 100
3. Naperville, IL
Front yards in Naperville are big enough for a mean game of Slip n Slide.
Top 100 rank: 3
Population: 142,900
Compare Naperville to Top 10 Best Places
It's no wonder Naperville has made Money's Best Places list three times now. The walkable downtown area is packed with restaurants and shops. The popular Riverwalk is a nearly two-mile brick path that follows the DuPage River's course through town.

Naperville's proximity to Chicago is a plus, but there are plenty of jobs to be had right here. Edward Hospital and Nicor Gas employ more than 8,000 people between them, and companies such as BP America, Lucent and Tellabs have offices in town.

Graduates of the city's schools handily outscore state and national averages on college entrance exams. And Naperville's public library is ranked the best in the nation among small cities by Hennen's American Public Library Ratings. On the downside, housing is pricier here than in some nearby suburbs; the typical three-bedroom, two-bath house runs $380,000. And congestion on the city's major roads can slow traffic to a crawl.

Median family income
(per year)
$123,221 $93,313
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$97,331 $84,802
Sales tax 6.75% 6.60%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
N.A. 5.22%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
3.00% 2.42%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,537 $1,854
Job growth %
18.77% 18.60%
Median home price $369,000 $293,712
Average property taxes
$6,402 $4,072
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Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
76 40
Junior colleges and
technical institutes (within 30 miles)
32 20
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
34.2% 17.3%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
14.7% 16.6%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
93.2/6.8 89.5/10.5
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
69.9% 76.0%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 13 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) N.A.3 25
Median commute time
(in minutes)
27.7 23.0
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
29.6% 15.8%
% population walk or bike to work 1.9% 3.0%
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
36 51
(within 15 miles)
4,338 4,141
(within 15 miles)
334 338
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
290 242
(within 15 miles)
86 90
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
15 11
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 13 13
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 1.2 1.5
Annual rainfall
37.53 36.31
% clear days in the area 23 30
High temp in July ° F 85.7° 87.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F 14.1° 22.9°
Has health plan
(% of residents)
89.9% 88.2%
Body mass index (avg. for residents) 26 27
Diabetes rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
7.5% 9.6%
Hypertension rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
27.5% 27.3%
Median age 34.8 36.0
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
84.3% 73.6%
Married 67.3% 57.5%
Divorced 5.6% 8.3%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
81.0 104.0
Amount spent on vacations
(domestic and foreign, household avg. per year)
$9,029 $8,012
From the August 2008 issue
* County data
** State data
(3) Crime incidences are estimates based on FBI 2006 Universal Crime and incidence reports, OnBoard analysis.
See Naperville in...
...What Readers Say
They speak out on Naperville and other places ...
Boeing 27
State Farm Insurance Cos. 32
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FORTUNE: Best to work for
There are no Best Companies to Work For in this state.
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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
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Do you live in a great place? Does your city have great cafes and culture? Lovely affordable homes? Low crime and a thriving downtown? A thriving local economy? Amazing neighbors? Show us why your town is remarkable: Send your photos and videos, and they could be profiled in an upcoming story.
Top 3

City Median income
New Canaan, CT $231,138
Darien, CT $218,130
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, 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