The top 20 small cities in America

Money magazine's list of the best 'small cities' in the U.S. shows that suburban America hasn't changed much since the 1950s.

Money magazine's list of the top 20 best 'small cities' in the United States is out, and it paints an interesting picture of the demographic composition of America.

Using data provided by Onboard Informatics, Money factored in economic strength, quality healthcare and education, low crime, and entertainment to estimate quality of living in each city. (A 'small city' is defined as having a population between 50,000 and 300,000.)

Topping the list? Carmel, Ind., with a population of 80,100, a median household income of $120,988 and a racial composition of 85.4 percent white and 14.6 percent everything else.

Indeed, the top performers on this list are not a far cry from the 1950s standard of the American dream -- suburban, wealthy, white -- but that's changing as the demographics of America's cities, suburbs and rural areas shift.

In the context of this diverse, contemporary America, the list may not ring true for many. Wait a few years, and it won't ring true for most.

Let SmartPlanet know what you think. Here are your top five of 2012:

  1. Carmel, Ind. (pop. 80,100) -- "This formerly sleepy burb has since transformed itself into the ideal place to work and play," Money writes, with the second-largest concentration of office workers in the state and an unemployment rate that's about half the national average.
  2. McKinney, Texas (pop. 136,100) -- Lots of housing options and a location between Dallas' urban and rural areas means McKinney is well-positioned for growth. "Stroll around downtown, and you'll see cotton mills and feed stores transformed into hip boutiques and art galleries," Money writes.
  3. Eden Prarie, Minn. (pop 61,200) -- You can't go wrong with a town that keeps a balanced budget, but the winters might scare you off. Still, it "has the heady combination of terrific employment prospects, natural beauty, and a well-educated workforce."
  4. Newton, Mass. (pop. 84,700) -- This one's for the brainiacs among you. Near Harvard, MIT and Boston University, the town's schools have close ties to institutions of higher education. "Though housing prices are high, families say the perks are well worth it," Money writes.
  5. Redmond, Wash. (pop. 55,200) -- Headquarters of Microsoft, Redmond sits between downtown Seattle and the Cascade Mountains and is littered with "historic buildings, quirky shops, eateries, and brewpubs."

For more, you can check out the complete list here.

[via: Planetizen]

Photo: Hamilton County/Tod Martens

Author's Note: The original version of this post, which placed a focus on the racial makeup of cities on this list, was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately, it came off as mean-spirited. I've rewritten the post, from top to bottom, to correct for my original intention. I sincerely apologize for causing any offense; it was not intended.

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