15. Columbia, IL
Columbia, IL
Median home price: $154,000
Median family income: $90,854

Set amid 500-foot bluffs above the Mississippi (and out of flood danger), this town was originally settled by Germans attracted to the rich farmland. Those bloodlines run through the veins of many of Columbia's residents today, but few are still farmers.

Instead, many residents commute to jobs in St. Louis about 15 minutes away. Some residents stay local, working for one of the several employers in town such as adhesive tape maker, Budnick Converting, and Hoya, an optical glass maker.

Many of the older homes in town are made with bricks fired from local clay. They were built close to the street so there would be plenty of room in back for gardens and livestock. That, said Mayor Kevin Hutchinson, helps Columbia retain "the charm that attracted many German immigrants in the 1800s." 

See complete data and interactive map for Columbia


Last updated August 15 2011: 2:48 PM ET
Join the Conversation
Full list: Top 100

These terrific small towns -- even now -- boast great job opportunities, top-notch schools, safe streets, economic strength, and more.

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.