WASHINGTON — Cue up “The Andy Griffith Show” music. Mayberry has some competition from four local small cities listed on Money magazine’s annual list of the best places to live in the U.S.
The factors taken into account for the ranking are good jobs, strong economies, affordable homes, excellent schools and “that special something that makes it a great place to live.”
In Maryland, North Laurel, Damascus and Urbana all crack the top 50, as does Vienna, Virginia.
Here’s the breakdown:
Median Income: $90,192
Job Growth: 12%
Median Home Price: $304,500
Property Taxes: $4,307
It’s all about location, location, location for Laurel residents, since the town is situated pretty much halfway between Baltimore and D.C. Thanks to its proximity to the two major metro areas, the town’s unemployment rate is just 4 percent.
The schools are great, and there’s plenty to do around town or right next door in Columbia.
Median Income: $106,104
Job Growth: 8%
Median Home Price: $310,290
Property Taxes: $3,331
Damascus is a sleepy little town that was “dry” up until 2013, but it recently launched an art festival featuring local musicians, crafters and artists.
Families with kids also have access to the county’s wonderful schools.
Median Income: $120,909
Job Growth: 6%
Median Home Price: $409,172
Property Taxes: $5,598
Urbana offers residents plenty of work opportunities because of its proximity to the MD-355/I-270 tech corridor and its MARC access.
For families, the schools are excellent in terms of SAT scores, AP courses and the percentage of students who advance to college.
However, there’s a shortage of leisure activities available and the town hasn’t been able to keep up with rapid growth as well as it might have.
Median Income: $123,400
Job Growth: 8%
Median Home Price: $660,175
Property Taxes: $7,081
Vienna, Money says, “has a vibrant downtown, with mom-and-pop shops, locally owned restaurants, and historic buildings like the Freeman House, a country store built in 1859,” plus “plenty of outdoor recreation, including biking and walking paths along the 45-mile W&OD Railroad track, and low unemployment due to the town’s proximity to Tysons Corner, where Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One, and Hilton Worldwide are headquartered.”
It’s dropped in the rankings, however, because it may soon face overcrowding, higher living costs and increased traffic as the Tyson’s area grows.
To see Money’s full list of the best places to live in the U.S., visit Time.com/Money.
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