July 13, 2009 / 10:00 PM / in 8 years

Colorado town top choice as best small place to live

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Tired of living in a bustling city with millions of people and high crime rates? Head to Louisville, Colorado, which topped Money Magazine’s list of the 100 best small towns in the United States.

<p>Smoke continues to pour from the canyons of the Rocky Mountains in the Hayman fire south of Denver, Colorado June 13, 2002. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>

With a strong economy, affordable housing, good schools and just 20 minutes from Denver, it came in No. 1 among places with populations ranging from 8,500 to 50,000.

“We know that in this economy that people are most concerned about living in a place where there is a strong local economy and lots of jobs,” Donna Rosato, of Money Magazine, said in an interview.

“It has key factors like having good schools, low crime, affordable homes and lots to do. Louisville had the best combination of all those things.”

Louisville also scored points because of its closeness to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is less than an hour away, its many hiking trails and its proximity to ski resorts.

It edged past Chanhassen in Minnesota, Papillion in Nebraska, Middleton in Wisconsin and Milton in Massachusetts, which rounded out the top five small towns.

A recent CNNMoney.com poll of 43,000 people, which guided how the magazine selected the best 100 small places to live, showed that availability of jobs was the most important aspect in assessing a town.

Other factors in the magazine’s selection were the quality of schools, crime rate, home affordability, sense of community, diversity, access to healthcare and arts and leisure.

“Chanhassen has a very strong local economy,” Rosato explained about its number two choice. “The economic strength of this town was really impressive.”

Its small town feel, low unemployment, declining property taxes and abundance of lakes and parks also helped.

“Every home (in Chanhassen) is within a half of a mile of a park,” said Rosato.

Warren in New Jersey, Keller in Texas, Peachtree City in Georgia, Lake St. Louis in Missouri and Mukilteo in Washington completed the top 10.

Rosato said it was no coincidence that many of the top towns were in the mid-west of the United States, with the exception of Michigan, which has been hurt by the auto industry, and Ohio.

“The highest ranking on our list were places that never had a big housing boom, so they never had a housing bust, which has hurt some folks. They are also towns that have very diverse local economies,” she added.

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