Money Magazine Ranks Best Places to Live

Best places to live in 2009

So may places to go.

So many places to go.

Every year, CNN’s Money Magazine names the best places to live. Today, the list of the 100 best small towns in the United States were published at

“Small towns,” according to Money Magazine, are places with populations of 50,000 or fewer. Rather than just rehash the top few places, I’ve chosen some random selections from the top 100 Money Magazine best places to live.

Something new in Nebraska

The No. 3 city on Money Magazine’s best places to live is Papillion, Nebraska. It has an unemployment rate of just 4.5 percent, and there are plenty of places to get an easy payday loan. Money Magazine says:

It’s rare for a town to rack up great scores in both economic performance and housing affordability. This friendly community outside Omaha delivers both.

Papillion has acres of open space, traffic jams are unheard of, and par­ents feel comfortable letting their kids ride bikes unsuper­vised.

The knocks on Papillion used to be a tired-looking downtown and few things to do. But the town has been working hard to fix both problems. It is $750,000 into a multiyear downtown revitalization project that in­cludes new sidewalks and antique lighting.

Near the Great Salt Lake

No. 14 on the list of Money Magazine’s best places to live is Farmington, Utah. This town has 16,500 people, and the report says:

A one-stoplight town squeezed between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake, Farmington has a quaint, quiet downtown with few shops.

Most Farmington residents commute south to Salt Lake City, but some travel north to Hill Air Force Base, Utah’s sixth largest employer.

Go west

No. 17 on the Money Magazine best places to live is Newcastle, Washington. This town has only 9,800 people, but it’s a favorite getaway for golfers.

Once full of coal miners, Newcastle now has a much more diverse jobs base: The town is 15 minutes from both Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters and Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton.

But the biggest draw here may be The Golf Club at Newcastle. Built by former Microsoft exec Scott Oki, the massive site includes two 18-hole public courses and a 44,000-square-foot clubhouse.

An inkling about Iowa

The town of Urbandale, Iowa, is ranked No. 42, and it has gotten some support from residents in the comments section.

Attracted by a strong local economy and low taxes, some 35,000 people have made this Des Moines suburb home since its 1917 incorporation date.

There is much to do within city limits, including exploring 900 acres of parkland and hiking 36 miles of trails.

Go for the ribs

In the home state of the president, Batavia, Illinois, makes No. 56 on the Money Magazine best places to live. The article doesn’t mention that Batavia is near Naperville, which holds a competitive rib-making festival each year. That sounds like a selling point to me.

Here’s what Money Magazine did have to say about Batavia:

Lined with 19th-century limestone buildings, Batavia has an old-town feel despite its location 35 miles west of downtown Chicago and easy access to commuter trains. … Batavia is also home to nearly 200 manufacturing, research, and warehousing firms as well as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a world-renowned center for physics research.