6. Crete, IL
Crete, IL
Median home price: $147,000
Median family income: $91,939

This Chicago suburb is the last stop for those who want a small town atmosphere with a convenient commute into the city. "After Crete, it's all farmland," said Mayor Michael Einhorn.

Crete boasts good schools, low crime and an almost-bucolic landscape. There are acres upon acres of forest preserve, plenty of hiking and horseback riding trails and an ice-skating park.

Even though many residents earn big-city wages in Chicago, the cost of living is low and homes are particularly affordable, said Einhorn. That has attracted rapid growth over the past decade, during which Crete's population has grown by nearly 25%.

And if the mayor has his way, the expansion will continue. He's pushing to extend a commuter train that will connect Crete with the high-paying financial services district in downtown Chicago. 

See complete data and interactive map for Crete

Last updated August 15 2011: 2:48 PM ET
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These terrific small towns -- even now -- boast great job opportunities, top-notch schools, safe streets, economic strength, and more.

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