Money's list of America's best small cities


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6. Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 6
Population: 141,000
Unemployment: 7.4%
Compare Fort Collins to Top 10 Best Places
Bikers and beers. In most parts of the country, those two elements may be reasons to move elsewhere. But in the foothills of Colorado's Front Range, bikers mean cyclists: Fort Collins has 29 miles of well-used trails.

As for beers, this town has become a high-end microbrew mecca. New Belgium Brewery (maker of Fat Tire) is based in this entrepreneurial town, and competitors are moving in.

People here aren't slackers either. Bolstered by Colorado State University, which employs 7,000, "the Fort" is a center of economic activity. Hewlett-Packard, the city's second-largest employer, announced worldwide layoffs in June, but they won't affect Fort Collins. In fact, the company is adding jobs here.

This idyllic town -- No. 1 in 2006 -- would rank even higher but for one thing. (No, it's not last summer's Balloon Boy hoax, perpetrated by the local Heene family.) Colorado schools are hurting. After the state sliced public schools budget this year, Fort Collins's Poudre School District laid off 139 full-time employees. --Pieter van Noordennen

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Is Fort Collins a great town, or what?
Fort Collins stats
  City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$81,624 $90,957
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
11.73% 15.71%
See jobs near Fort Collins
Median home price $210,000 $239,391
See Fort Collins homes for sale
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
22.4% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
24.9% 22.9%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 4 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 32 24
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
625 2,967
High temp in July ° F 83.5° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 14.8° 21.3°
Median age 29.1 35.3
Financial City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$81,624 $90,957
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$85,560 $86,860
State sales tax 2.90% 5.45%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
N.A. 7.35%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
4.63% 2.96%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
$1,532 $1,707
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
11.73% 15.71%
See jobs near Fort Collins
Housing
Median home price $210,000 $239,391
Average property taxes
(2008)
$1,650 $3,418
See Fort Collins homes for sale
Education
Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
2 25
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
22.4% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
24.9% 22.9%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
95.3/4.7 87.8/12.2
Quality of life
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
68.0% 77.8%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 4 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 32 24
Median commute time (in minutes) 15.0 21.4
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
7.6% 13.6%
% population walk or bike to work 8.3% 3.6%
Leisure and culture
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
7 31
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
625 2,967
Bars
(within 15 miles)
45 207
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
44 162
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
18 72
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
1 10
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 13 12
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 0.5 1.5
Weather
Annual rainfall
(inches)
15.72 37.40
% clear days in the area 29 29
High temp in July ° F 83.5° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 14.8° 21.3°
Median age 29.1 35.3
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
78.6% 71.5%
Married % 46.5% 56.6%
Divorced % 8.8% 8.4%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
60.6 94.9
From the August 2010 issue
Notes: *County data
Galleries & video
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Find Your Best Places
Region
Northeast South
Midwest West
Ranking
Top 100 winners only
Population
8.4M
46,000
Home Prices
2009 median sales prices
$1.2M
$36K
Video
Using statistics from data provider Onboard Informatics, we crunched the numbers in order to zero in on America's best small cities for families. (Last year, we looked at small towns, with populations between 8,500 and 50,000.) More

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