Money's list of America's best small cities


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3. Newton, MA
Newton
WINNER
Top 100 rank: 3
Population: 82,000
Unemployment: 6.0%
Compare Newton to Top 10 Best Places
Less than 45 minutes from downtown Boston via train, subway, or express bus, Newton is divided into 13 "villages" loaded with classic New England charm. Most have pedestrian-friendly shopping districts, parks, and playgrounds.

The town weathered the economic downturn fairly well, thanks to such stable local employers as Boston College and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. And Greater Boston, of course, offers a wealth of health care, education, and government jobs.

Residents rave about the top-ranked schools, and parents are excited for the new high school opening this fall. "It's absolutely beautiful," says Claudia Wu, 51, an attorney with three school-age kids who has lived in Newton for 20 years. It should be: The school cost $197 million, an amount that sparked plenty of local outrage.

After all, living in this community is expensive enough: a three-bedroom house runs nearly $600,000. If it weren't for those hefty price tags, this town would be pretty close to perfect. --Beth Braverman

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Is Newton a great town, or what?
Newton stats
  City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$138,070 $90,957
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
-2.38% 15.71%
See jobs near Newton
Median home price $625,000 $239,391
See Newton homes for sale
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
62.0% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
89.0% 22.9%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 13 24
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
5,435 2,967
High temp in July ° F 82.8° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 16.6° 21.3°
Median age 41.3 35.3
Financial City stats Best places avg.
Median family income
(per year)
$138,070 $90,957
Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)
$128,437 $86,860
State sales tax 6.25% 5.45%
State income tax rate
(highest bracket)
N.A.I 7.35%
State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)
5.30%I 2.96%
Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)
N.A. $1,707
Job growth %
(2000-2009)*
-2.38% 15.71%
See jobs near Newton
Housing
Median home price $625,000 $239,391
Average property taxes
(2007)
$6,343 $3,418
See Newton homes for sale
Education
Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)
57 25
Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)
62.0% 22.9%
Test scores math
(% above/below average)
89.0% 22.9%
% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)
71.9/28.1 87.8/12.2
Quality of life
Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)
93.0% 77.8%
Personal crime incidents (per 1,000) 1 2
Property crime incidents (per 1,000) 13 24
Median commute time (in minutes) 23.7 21.4
% population with commute
45 mins. or longer
14.4% 13.6%
% population walk or bike to work 5.8% 3.6%
Leisure and culture
Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)
52 31
Restaurants
(within 15 miles)
5,435 2,967
Bars
(within 15 miles)
262 207
Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)
302 162
Libraries
(within 15 miles)
184 72
Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)
28 10
Ski resorts (within 100 miles) 26 12
Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts) 1.7 1.5
Weather
Annual rainfall
(inches)
45.79 37.40
% clear days in the area 27 29
High temp in July ° F 82.8° 86.2°
Low temp in Jan ° F 16.6° 21.3°
Median age 41.3 35.3
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
84.3% 71.5%
Married % 52.8% 56.6%
Divorced % 6.0% 8.4%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
62.2 94.9
From the August 2010 issue
Notes: *County data

(I) Income tax notes:
16 states have statutory provision for automatic adjustment of tax brackets, personal exemption or standard deductions to the rate of inflation. Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio index the personal exemption amounts only.
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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