100 best places to live in the US

Money magazine's annual list names the top American small towns based on job opportunities, fiscal strength, schools, safety, health care, activities and weather.

By MSNMoney partner Aug 15, 2011 2:05PM
Image: Man and woman standing in front of house, smiling, portrait (© Ivan Hunter/Photodisc/Getty Images)Money magazine's 2011 list of "100 best places to live in America" highlights small towns across the country with populations of 50,000 or less. For the annual cover story, published in August, Money looked for places with the optimal combination of job opportunities, fiscal strength, top-notch schools, safe streets, good health care, cultural and outdoor activities, and even nice weather.

Money's editors write, "With the current state of the economy -- and the dispiriting sight of the nation's leaders endlessly battling about how to fix it -- the phrase 'small town' conjures up images of a happier time. When unemployment wasn't above 9%. When people didn't stress out about home values. When school budgets weren't under siege. Those were the days, right?"

Topping the list is Louisville, Colo., 23 miles outside of  Denver. It has a strong economy, stable housing and lots to do. Louisville has one of the lowest crime rates in Colorado and was also ranked No. 1 in 2009, when Money assessed places with populations of under 50,000.

There are good jobs in Louisville in tech, telecom, aerospace, clean energy and health care. Additionally, Money's editors report that businesses are flourishing in the historic downtown. "This summer alone saw the opening of three restaurants, a rooftop bar, a coffee shop, a yoga studio, a gift shop, and two art galleries. And world-class outdoor recreation is a short drive away." 

Here are Money's top 25 places to live in the United States:

1. Louisville, Colo.

2. Milton, Mass.

3. Solon, Ohio

4. Leesburg, Va.

5. Papillion, Neb.

6. Hanover, N.H.

7. Liberty, Mo.

8. Middleton, Wis.

9. Mukilteo, Wash.

10. Chanhassen, Minn.

11. Sharon, Mass.
12. Farmington, Utah
13. Johnston, Iowa
14. Arden Hills, Minn.
15. Sammamish, Wash.
16. Acton, Mass.
17. Montville, N.J.
18. Newcastle, Wash.
19. Castle Rock, Colo.
20. Superior, Colo.
21. Hunter's Creek, Fla.
22. South Brunswick, N.J.
23. North Salt Lake, Utah
24. Mason, Ohio
25. West Goshen, Pa.

See all of "Money's 100 Best Places to Live in America" here.


Aug 15, 2011 5:40PM
Jack the list is based on "job opportunities, fiscal strength, schools, safety, health care, activities and weather". What does that have to do with African Americans living in the area?
Aug 15, 2011 3:58PM

I guess you can make whatever list you want, but how was each category weighted? Is that nut Lisa Pullman still working here?


No Southeastern States indeed. It is hard, in the extreme, to believe.


I call BS. I live in Western Washington. Three of our cities are listed. Yes, they are nice places, but the Puget Sound region is nuts and our political leadership has spent us into oblivion. Live elsewhere. I'm trying to escape myself!



Aug 15, 2011 5:06PM

Interesting to see two suburban Seattle cities on the list (Multikeo and Sammamish).. Yes they are great small towns to live in, but try to live in Sammamish where your average home price is about 500 k. You will need an income of about 120 k a year to afford a mortgage on a house there, and that assumes that you put 100 K down. Unfortunately, I am nearing retirement, and I do not have that kind of money to spend on a house in Seattle Metro.


Lived in WA state for years,in Eastern WA (Spokane) and housing prices are a lot more reasonable there. Love Seattle Metro, but again, it is too pricey for today's economy, so when I retire it will be in Eastern WA, or in the Midwest (northern MI) where houses are dirt cheap.

Aug 15, 2011 3:33PM
Gov Perry states that he has improved the health of Texas.  I don't see one city in Texas listed.  Is he really telling the truth?  
Aug 15, 2011 3:50PM
I love MN, its amazing but I hardly think Twin Cities suburbs are small towns. Try looking a little harder next time.
Aug 15, 2011 3:44PM
There are so few Southeastern states represented - I find that very hard to believe!
Aug 15, 2011 5:14PM
So when you actually rate small towns, what do you call them? I'm familiar with about 40% of the cities in this poll, and they are all upper upper middle class suburbs whose economies rely on the bigger cities to which they are attached. Small towns indeed. Next time you do an article like this, do some research -- or at least define your subject by better defined terms. How about Dekalb, IL or Dubuque, IA or Ellensburg, WA. Better yet, small cities that don't have the benefit of an expensive college -- Sheboygan, WI or St. Augustine, FL or Santa Fe, NM?? eh, don't go to too much trouble -- you only get paid to do it.
Aug 15, 2011 5:32PM

Not about small towns, this article is about suburb towns of the big cities in the US...I would not want to live in most of these...



Aug 15, 2011 7:57PM
I really don't see how could Hunter's Creek, Florida be included here. All of central Florida is terrible. I moved here 8 years ago and I now realize I made a terrible mistake. The housing market is terrible - (foreclosures, short sales, etc.), unemployment is high, and crime rate has been going up (I heard it went up 30% in the past few years) due to so much immigration. Florida is DEFINITELY not one of the best places to live and NOT the same place it use to be several years ago.
Aug 15, 2011 5:37PM
I love it, not one Montana town. THANK YOU Money for hiring a lousy writer that could miss an entire state full of towns better than any on this list. I admit I'm biased, but again thank you. With press like this it will remain a great place to live.
Aug 15, 2011 7:03PM
Hey jack2323 , that's why they're great cities...
Aug 15, 2011 4:14PM
Great to see Louisville, CO first on the list!  BTW, it's actually pronounced like Lewisville; not pronounced like the city in Kentucky.

I live in suburban Denver just 5 or so miles from Louisville.  It really is a nice little town and they have a great event in June called Taste of Louisville.  It's better than the main Taste of Colorado in downtown Denver every Labor Day.

What's funny about this list is that Superior is #20 and basically right next to Louisville!

Dec 2, 2011 4:37PM
What would be the top places to live that you don't have to freeze your a$$ off?
Aug 15, 2011 7:50PM
2005 list, Bainbridge Island, WA was #2. Now it doesn't even make the top 100. California moved here when they saw it on the list, although I think the migration had already began, and now the place is a shambles. Be careful what you wish for folks, see what the past winners look like five or six years later.
Aug 15, 2011 7:23PM
I guess money does not take surfing in to account.
Aug 15, 2011 6:09PM

Sammamish WA - Give me a break!   That place is not a city.   It is a commuter hell to Seattle or Bellevue.    Nobody really lives and works in Sammamish.   It has no city things.   Unless you count a few little strip malls, and a couple Highschools a city, this place is just not a city.



Aug 15, 2011 4:20PM
Louisville is set within urban sprawl and is a suburb of Denver. If paradise paved over. crowds and long lines are your thing then by all means move to metro Denver (of which Louisville is a part),
Aug 15, 2011 4:10PM
Obvious to see this article was written to the soccer mom audience.
Aug 15, 2011 7:54PM

Why do these east coast mags keep trying to sell the cold weather cities? Don't they see everyone is moving south where it is warm?

Aug 15, 2011 8:10PM
As a resident of North Salt Lake I love it here and don't want to leave, it's not perfect, just ticket happy police (everywhere?) and a refinery or two next door. (helps stabilize gas prices).

Thanks for the mention.

Two minutes from Salt Lake City with none of the big city uppity.

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