Looking to relocate? Time has released its annual ranking of the 50 best places to live—this year, the magazine focused on small cities (populations between 50,000 and 300,000), and next year it will focus on small towns. Among the more than 50 factors considered: the local economy, the housing market, schools, health care, and the sense of community. The top 10:
- McKinney, Texas: "Around here, everyone says hello and stops to chat," says one local. "It’s a truly hometown feeling." Plus, there are lots of jobs, good schools, affordable housing, and a downtown that boasts everything from art galleries to farm-to-table restaurants.
- Maple Grove, Minn.: It's close to Minneapolis and has lots of open space, including bike and running paths—and, of course, 10 lakes. Plus, the job market is booming: "I couldn’t believe the options we had," says one recent transplant.
- Carmel, Ind.: Want culture? Take your pick of performances, from the local symphony to a traveling theater or dance show, or visit one of the many free arts festivals that take place throughout the year. Another bonus? You can often walk to wherever you need to be.
- Castle Rock, Colo.: What started as a quarry town is growing rapidly, with quite a few new jobs, and a town center and indoor athletic complex coming soon. But the downtown remains quaint and filled with local shops, and the Rockies are practically in your backyard.
- Kirkland, Wash.: This Seattle suburb has a downtown situated on Lake Washington's shores, with the Seattle skyline viewable from its beaches. But the city has its own nightlife, with one local calling it a "hotspot" that also happens to have a "fantastic" school system.
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