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Looking for a small place to call home? Columbia, Maryland, could be a great choice, according to an annual survey for Money magazine.
For Money, the nation’s best locales to live in offer a very particular combination of characteristics that includes top schools, affordable homes, good jobs and “that special something that makes a community a great place to live” — among other factors.
While that may seem an impossible combination to find, Money recently released its latest annual list of the best small cities and towns. This year, 50 out of 823 eligible destinations made the cut.
The magazine considered all U.S. cities and towns with populations of 50,000 to 300,000, for an initial pool of 823.
From there, the pool was narrowed by eliminating the places with the lowest predicted job growth, highest crime rate and poor sense of ethnic diversity (defined as having more than 90 percent of one race).
Then, Money examined financial factors like home values and tax rates as well as factors like the quality of health care and public school systems. Reporters also visited each locale.
After all that, Columbia came out on top. Money gave the 49-year-old planned community high marks for economic and social diversity.
Columbia promotes socioeconomic diversity, for example, through its layout — 10 villages that include a mix of apartments, townhomes and single-family.
The population is 55 percent white, 25 percent black, 12 percent Asian and 8 percent Latino.
Resident Shani Ball told Money:
“…diversity is not only tolerated here. It’s celebrated”
The top 10 cities and towns on the Money list are:
- Columbia, Maryland
- Eden Prairie, Minnesota
- Plano, Texas
- West Des Moines, Iowa
- Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey
- Highlands Ranch, Colorado
- Clarkstown, New York
- Weston, Florida
- Beaverton, Oregon
- Naperville, Illinois
Highlands Ranch also stands out for topping Money’s list of the healthiest places to live.
The magazine also looked at big cities, citing a few standouts.
New York City topped the list of the best places to be rich and single.
Additionally, six cities were named the best big cities in the country, with one selected for each of six regions:
- Portland, Oregon — Best in the West
- Colorado Springs, Colorado — Mountains
- Arlington, Texas — South
- Columbus, Ohio — Midwest
- Raleigh, North Carolina — Southeast
- Boston — Northeast
What makes a city or town one of the best in your opinion? Let us know below or on Facebook.