Money's list of America's best small cities

1 of 100
1. Plymouth, MN
Plymouth's numerous lakes are a magnet for boaters, water skiers and fishermen.
Top 100 rank: 1
Population: 70,100
Compare Plymouth to Top 10 Best Places
Topnotch schools, good jobs, affordable housing, low crime, an active outdoor culture - yep, they're pretty much all here. Plymouth could have become just another Twin Cities suburb, but more than 50,000 jobs keep residents working there.

Home prices are within reason: The typical three-bedroom, two-bath house goes for $350,000. The city's main school district is ranked among the top three in the state, and for culture, Plymouth's open-air amphitheater, the Hilde Performance Center, hosts numerous summer concerts. Residents are a quick drive from the Mall of America, the nation's biggest mall.

And did we mention the outdoors? Plymouth boasts more than half a dozen sizable bodies of water. Of course, this being Minnesota, winter can be brutal: January's average low temperature is about 13F. But when the mercury plummets, the locals get busy. In February the city hosts a Fire & Ice Festival that includes mini-golf, bowling and basketball - all right on the ice.

Median family income
(per year)
$111,631 $93,313
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$93,650 $84,802
Sales tax 6.65% 6.60%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
7.85%I 5.22%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
5.35%I 2.42%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,590 $1,854
Job growth %
7.89% 18.60%
Median home price $288,950 $293,712
Average property taxes
$4,526 $4,072
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Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
27 40
Junior colleges and
technical institutes (within 30 miles)
27 20
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
31.6% 17.3%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
33.2% 16.6%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
88.9/9.1 89.5/10.5
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
70.1% 76.0%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 23 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) N.A.3 25
Median commute time
(in minutes)
21.0 23.0
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
7.6% 15.8%
% population walk or bike to work 1.8% 3.0%
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
66 51
(within 15 miles)
3,362 4,141
(within 15 miles)
324 338
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
281 242
(within 15 miles)
104 90
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
4 11
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 14 13
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 2.1 1.5
Annual rainfall
29.81 36.31
% clear days in the area 26 30
High temp in July ° F 83.2° 87.8°
Low temp in Jan ° F 3.7° 22.9°
Has health plan
(% of residents)
91.2% 88.2%
Body mass index (avg. for residents) 26 27
Diabetes rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
8.0% 9.6%
Hypertension rates
(% of residents diagnosed)
25.4% 27.3%
Median age 37.8 36.0
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
83.3% 73.6%
Married 60.8% 57.5%
Divorced 8.0% 8.3%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
49.7 104.0
Amount spent on vacations
(domestic and foreign, household avg. per year)
$8,528 $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.

(I) Income tax notes:
17 states have statutory provision for automatic adjustment of tax brackets, personal exemption or standard deductions to the rate of inflation. Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio indexes the personal exemption amounts only.
The tax brackets reported are for single individual. For married couples filing jointly, the same rates apply for income under $31,150 to over $123,751. A 6.4% AMT rate is also applicable.
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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...What Readers Say
They speak out on Plymouth and other places ...
UnitedHealth Group 25
Target 31
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FORTUNE: Best to work for
Mayo Clinic 59
General Mills 69
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Information powered by Onboard Informatics
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

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