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2. Vero Beach, FL
2. Vero Beach, FL
64% Projected gain in home prices (5-year)*
Median home price Median home price
2006: $235,000
2011: $386,000
Population Population
2006: 131,000
2011: 147,000
Per capita income Per capita income
2006: $44,400
2011: $51,200
*Metro region statistics

Balmy weather, low property taxes, and a cost of living 3% lower than that of nearby West Palm Beach make this coastal town an affordable alternative, with sandy shores and the best surfing on the East Coast.

"Vero Beach is at high risk in the short term but will move up in the long term," Cochrane says.

Here's why: A Florida Atlantic University study says Indian River County and its two closest neighbors will need a projected 154,000 new homes during the next 25 years to house the growing population and replace old structures. A Manpower Employment Outlook Survey predicts growth in construction, manufacturing, and retail jobs too. Per capita income growth closely shadowed that of Martin County, Florida's second-wealthiest, and is gaining on that of Palm Beach County, the state's richest.

CAUTION: Projected job growth in the region will revolve mainly around lower-wage work, which can dampen home values.