The best U.S. small city to live in has a median household income around $100,000, a healthy but not booming economy, high home values, very low property taxes and isn't in the Northeast.
That's according to the data collected for Money magazine's list of The Top 50 Places to Live in the U.S. The magazine put McKinney, Texas, as No. 1 on its list, citing its combination of Southern charm with "a thoroughly modern city." But while its population of 140,000 is right at the mean average of all 50 towns and cities, income and home prices there are lower, while job growth and property taxes are higher.
For the list as a whole, the mean income is $106,855, about $10,000 higher than McKinney, but right in line with incomes in Milpitas, California (29th overall on the list). The mean home value on the list is $434,250 almost exactly twice McKinney's median home price. While McKinney's average property tax is low -- 2.36 percent -- it's a whole percentage point higher than the average for the list. The closest to the mean average for this is Pembroke Pines, Florida (32nd).
McKinney's economy is doing much for its ranking, with a projected job growth of 13.1 percent. The average for the list is a healthy but more sedate 8.3 percent, which you can find in Gilbert, Arizona (22nd).
If there is a clear loser on the "best places" list it is the Northeast, with only 11 locations listed. Vermont was the only state in the region without any listing.
After McKinney, the other cities in the top 10 are:
2. Maple Grove, Minn.
Projected job growth: 6.5 percent
3. Carmel, Ind.
Projected job growth: 17.1 percent
4. Castle Rock, Colo.
Projected job growth: 11.5 percent
5. Kirkland, Wash.
Projected job growth: 4.5 percent
6. Columbia & Ellicott City, Md.
Projected job growth: 8.7 percent
7. Clarkstown, N.Y.
Projected job growth: 5.6 percent
8. Ames, Iowa
Projected job growth: 0.6 percent
9. Rochester Hills, Michigan
Projected job growth: 4.3 percent
10. Reston, Virginia
Projected job growth: 1.8 percent
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