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36. Stafford, Texas
Population: 25,607
Pros: Minimal taxes, cheap housing and ample available land
Con: Business community still small

Stafford is a small community that offers Texas-sized savings: The town has no city property tax and the lowest sales tax in the Houston area.

"If you have any type of business with substantial inventory or taxable assets, starting up in Stafford is extremely favorable," says Jeff Wiley, president of the Greater Fort Bend County Economic Development Council.

In addition to the traditional Texas oil and gas sector, there's also a growing medical community in the city. Wiley says that Stafford is bursting with office parks and undeveloped land, but adds that there's a balance between commercial and residential areas.

Some flock to Stafford for its density of churches - 51 in seven square miles - but the city drew attention a few years ago for its attempts to quell their proliferation. Stafford is located near the many museums and shopping centers in Houston, but also boasts its own upscale shopping center, called the Fountains on the Lake. -Mina Kimes

Interactive map: Stafford, Texas
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Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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