Best Places to Live : Number Two in Country

Milton #5 Best Places to Live

July 15th, 2009 7:52 AM by Paul Rege , G.R.I, C.B.R. President

Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 7:46AM ET - U.S. Markets open in 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Best Places to Live, 2009 Edition

Monday, July 13, 2009provided by

4. Middleton, WI

Best_Places_to_Live_Middleton

Top 100 rank: 4
Population: 16,900
Typical single-family house: $350,000
Estimated property taxes: $6,000
Unemployment rate: 5.9% (county)
Fun fact: Mattel’s American Girl brand is based here.
Pluses: Small-town charm close to big-town amenities
Minuses: Brrr!

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Residents of Middleton, which ranked No. 1 on Money's 2007 Best Places list, are just 7 miles from Madison -- Wisconsin's cosmopolitan capital. But they don't need to leave home to find things to do; Middleton has a downtown with plenty of restaurants, boutiques, and small businesses.

Newer developments--including Greenway Station, a hub for upscale retailers and restaurants, and Middleton Hills, a mixed-use community inspired by the designs of Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright--have been thoughtfully planned, folks who live here say.

As for the economy, Madison's major employers (the state government and one of the nation's largest state universities) are about as stable as you can get. And within Middleton, large employers include the University of Wisconsin Foundation and medical research development firm PPD.

The resulting tax base has helped the town maintain its top-notch school system and 1,000-acre network of parks, bike paths, and running and cross-country ski trails. That helps make the frigid winters more bearable.

5. Milton, MA

Best_Places_to_Live_Milton

Top 100 rank: 5
Population: 25,400
Typical single-family house: $460,000
Estimated property taxes: $5,400
Unemployment rate: 6.8%
Fun fact: All public elementary schools here offer French immersion starting in first grade.
Pluses: Good schools, short commutes, diversity
Minuses: Few restaurants or small businesses

Just a few miles from downtown Boston, Milton is full of historic homes, tree-lined streets, and well-tended gardens, plus lots of parks and playgrounds.

There's a strong identity reflected in everything from the enthusiastic crowds at Milton High School's sports events (the basketball team was state champion in its division last year) to the sandwiches named for local landmarks and luminaries at G.H. Bent's Cookie Factory (built in 1891).

A vintage trolley whisks commuters to Boston's subway, and more than 5,000 jobs can be found right in town. Home prices rose a bit last year, and foreclosures are practically unheard of. Don't expect to score a housing bargain here.

Crime in Milton is low, but not nonexistent. A drive-by shooting occurred last summer and two people were killed by a troubled family member last March. "It's still an extremely safe place," says Tanya Frank, 34, who lives here with her husband, Paul McKnight, 35, and their two kids. "The police in Milton are great."

Next: Warren, NJ; Keller, TX; and Peachtree City, GA

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Posted by Paul Rege , G.R.I, C.B.R. President on July 15th, 2009 7:52 AM

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