Money's list of America's best small towns

83 of 100
83. Clayton, CA
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Top 100 rank: 83
Population: 10,500
Compare Clayton to Top 10 Best Places
This picturesque Bay Area town (itís 30 miles east of San Francisco) is great for outdoor lovers: Itís right next to Mount Diablo State Park. Walkers, bicyclists, and equestrians ply the Clayton Trail System, a bucolic 27 miles on 515 acres. The town makes efforts to preserve its Old West heritage (it recently renovated a 1885 winery, which now houses City Hall) and its family-friendly feel (the crime rate is low). While the drive to the city can be a long one, many people here work out arrangements to telecommute to San Francisco four days a week. --D.B.
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Clayton stats
  City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$129,883 $99,975
Job growth %
-0.79% 24.63%
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Median home price $505,000 $265,929
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Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
52.6% 25.1%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
26.4% 24.7%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 1
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 17 16
(within 15 miles)
1,494 2,758
High temp in July ° F 85.2° 84.1°
Low temp in Jan ° F 39.3° 20.9°
Median age 42.2 36.35
Financial City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$129,883 $99,975
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$111,872 $95,706
State sales tax 8.25% 5.75%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
9.30%I 7.37%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
1.00%I 3.13%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,644 $1,687
Job growth %
-0.79% 24.63%
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Median home price $505,000 $265,929
Average property taxes N.A. $4,083
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Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
21 28
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
52.6% 25.1%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
26.4% 24.7%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
100.0/0.0 92.1/7.9
Quality of life
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
84.0% 78.5%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 1
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 17 16
Median commute time (in minutes) 31.4 23.3
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
34.0% 15.4%
% population walk or bike to work 1.5% 2.6%
Leisure and culture
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
19 30
(within 15 miles)
1,494 2,758
(within 15 miles)
59 208
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
100 165
(within 15 miles)
27 74
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
11 10
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 0 16
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 0.1 1.2
Annual rainfall
23.96 39.07
% clear days in the area 44 27
High temp in July ° F 85.2° 84.1°
Low temp in Jan ° F 39.3° 20.9°
Median age 42.2 36.35
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
80.4% 74.5%
Married % 68.1% 61.5%
Divorced % 6.9% 7.6%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
113.6 71.0
From the September 2011 issue
Notes: *County data

(I) Income tax notes:
17 states have statutory provisions for automatically adjusting to the rate of inflation the dollar values of the income tax brackets, standard deductions, and/or personal exemptions. Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska index the personal exemption only. Oregon does not index the income brackets for $125,000 and over. Because the inflation-adjustments for 2011 are not yet available in most cases, the table reports the 2010 amounts, unless 2011 is specified in a footnote.
For joint returns, taxes are twice the tax on half the couple's income.
The personal exemption takes the form of a tax credit instead of a deduction.
California imposes an additional 1% tax on taxable income over $1 million, making the maximum rate 10.3% over $1 million.

(II) Sales tax notes:
California and Virginia rates each include a 1% statewide "local" sales tax rate that localities can not amend.
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We asked readers to share their favorite hometown dishes. Now itís time for you to choose: The most popular dish will be named Fan Favorite!

Hometown dish Town
1. Low Cal Tex Mex Seguin, TX
2. Chile Relleno Seguin, TX
3. Super Bowl Breakfast Jamestown, CA,
4. Texas BBQ Luling, TX
5. Shrimp 'n Grits to die for! Raleigh, NC

Money picked the top 100. Now it's your turn: Which town will be our fan favorite? 'Like' your town and it might just make it to No. 1.

Town # of Likes
1. Saratoga Springs, NY 407
2. Glen Ellyn, IL 202
3. Castle Rock, CO 199
4. Mason, OH 181
5. Oswego, IL 172
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Using statistics from data services company 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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