America's best small towns- according to CNNMoney

Small town America. Those from big cities often think of them as peaceful, friendly, unsophisticated. Some who grew up in them couldn't wait to leave. But many didn't. There are almost 19,000 incorporated towns in the U.S. with populations under 50,000. From these, a recent CNNMoney list culled the top 100, or .005% .5%.

The list is based on a number of criteria, including availability of jobs, price of housing, low crime, good schools, and average income; no points for charm, spirit, swimming holes, churches or potluck dinners. You'd think CNNMoney had never listened to The Prairie Home Companion.

Tops among the country's small towns on this list were (links go to AOL Real Estate home listings)
  1. Louisville, Colo.
  2. Chanhassen, Minn.
  3. Papillion, Neb.
  4. Middleton, Wis.
  5. Milton, Mass.
  6. Warren, N.J.
  7. Keller, Texas
  8. Peachtree City, Ga.
  9. Lake St. Louis, Mo.
  10. Mukilteo, Wash.

What does Louisville, an old mining town, offer that can't be found in your small town? It didn't finish in the top 25 by median income- the leader here was Holmdel, N.J. with $159,633. It wasn't in the top 25 in affordable housing; #1 Duncanville, Texas has an average home sale price of $99,648. It also wasn't among the leaders in fast commutes, led by Grinnell, Iowa at 7.8 minutes.

It does have 275 days of sunshine a year, an average high temperature in July of 72 degress, easy access to Boulder and Denver and 1,700 acres of dedicated open space. It evidently does a lot of things well, which is what we expect of a good small town.

The study includes some nuggets that would be of interest to specific populations. For example, the three small towns with the the most rich and single residents:
  1. Hermosa Beach, CA, 47.2% single, $137,941 median family income
  2. Arlington, VA, 41.6%, $108,815
  3. Coronado, CA, 36.1%, $106,817

While I have no reason to doubt that these small towns are all worthy, I'm always a little skeptical when I see every part of the country represented in a top 10 list. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, South, and a mountain state, this dispersion reads more like the result of a bull session than an objective poll. Demographics are rarely neat.

My experience has shown me that what makes a small town a great town is often a few key leaders. Those towns who have residents that care about the community, are willing to roll up their sleeves and work, and create a climate of fellowship are the ones I call great. Cheap houses and high incomes are no substitute for that.,feedConfig,entry&id=489811&pid=489810&uts=1247501794
Best Rural Towns in America
Small town America. Those from big cities often think of them as peaceful, friendly, unsophisticated. Some who grew up in them couldn't wait to leave. This gallery lists some of the best rural towns in America.
Douglas Graham, Getty Images
WalletPop is not responsible for caption content.
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