For those of you wondering which cities in America are the "best to live" then you might want to check out this list compiled by CNN Money... Hit the flip for the top 20.
20. Waldorf, MD Top 100 rank: 20 Population: 69,400
After the remodel of its two-story, 981,000-square-foot shopping mall in 2007, Waldorf is now considered the major retail spot in Southern Maryland. The welcoming vibe and safe streets attract buyers in search of home bargains too: Despite its location in the ultra-pricey East Coast corridor just 40 minutes from Washington, D.C., and about an hour from Baltimore, the median price of a house in Waldorf is just $190,000. --D.M.
19. Lakeville, MN Top 100 rank: 19 Population: 56,700
Kids have it good in Lakeville, a city just 26 miles from Minneapolis. All 14 of Lakeville's public schools beat the state averages; summertime brings swimming, boating, and fishing at Marion and Orchard lakes as well as hiking along the Genesee Valley Greenway. Lakeville's downtown is small but there are several shopping and restaurant destinations within driving distance, like the Burnsville Center shopping mall, just five miles north of the city. -- L.M.
18. South Jordan, UT Top 100 rank: 18 Population: 52,700
South Jordan is one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah. Daybreak, a planned community, has drawn more residents to the area than any other new home community in the state. Locals take health seriously: When they're not skiing or off-road biking in nearby mountains, residents take to the trails at Jordan River Parkway for jogging, horseback riding, fishing, and more. As with many parts of Utah, the area lacks diversity. But it also boasts the lowest divorce rate on our list: around 4%. --L.G.
17. Centreville, VA Top 100 rank: 17 Population: 72,900
Centreville strikes the right balance for those who want to escape big-city life without sacrificing big-city job opportunities. Though the commute to Washington, D.C., can be lengthy due to traffic, Centreville is within reasonable driving distance of both mountain and beach getaways (it's even easier to get far away: Dulles International Airport is minutes down the road). That's not to say there's no such thing as local traffic too -- Centreville's Little League team, recent state champions, has been known to draw quite a crowd. --E.R.
16. Castle Rock, CO Top 100 rank: 16 Population: 52,500
A far cry from its Wild West beginnings, Castle Rock has set out to become a major magnet for businesses. The chamber of commerce holds regular networking events; the Castle Rock Economic Gardeners helps small businesses. That effort has paid off: Forty-four businesses opened in the first quarter of 2012. The downsides? There's not much diversity; Denver is a 40-minute drive. Small tradeoffs, say locals, to live in a place with 255 days of sunshine and an up-close view of the Rockies. -- Lauren Gensler
15. Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ Top 100 rank: 15 Population: 53,200
Parsippany/Troy Hills has something for everyone. Looking for work? Some 30 Fortune 500 companies have offices in town, including Deloitte & Touche, American Financial, and Wyndham Worldwide. Stuff to do? The city's recreation program offers sports teams and holiday celebrations. Those craving serious nightlife can easily make the 40-minute drive to New York City. Parsippany/Troy Hills is a standout in diversity too: The population is 29% Asian and 8% Hispanic. --D.M.
14. Eagan, MN Top 100 rank: 14 Population: 64,700
Just a 20-minute commute from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Eagan is often seen as a bedroom community. But there are a lot of people who commute to Eagan too, to work for large firms like Thomson Reuters, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Coca-Cola. That's helped keep the unemployment rate here well below the national average. Granted, Minnesota winters are brutal, but Eagan residents make up for it during the summer, spending time in the hundreds of lakes and parks that dot the city, as well as at Cascade Bay, Minnesota's largest outdoor water park. -- L.M.
13. Allen, TX Top 100 rank: 13 Population: 83,700
To see Texas-style supersizing in action, look no further than Allen High School's new stadium: The $60 million project will welcome as many as 18,000 spectators when it opens for the fall season. When residents aren't cheering for the home team on Friday nights, they can often be found at the Allen Event Center, home to a minor league hockey team. And if your preferred method of exercise is walking from store to store, Allen is home to 5.5 million square feet of retail space. -- Elayna Rose
12. Fishers, IN Top 100 rank: 12 Population: 78,600
Fishers is no stranger to the Best Places list, and it's easy to see why. It has reasonably priced homes, one of the top school systems in the state, and seamless access to downtown Indianapolis (about a 30-minute drive). For fun, there are 451 acres of parks, summer music festivals, and the annual Flavor of Fishers Festival, where local restaurants showcase their best dishes. While the charm factor is a little lacking, Fishers is in the process of redeveloping its downtown area. -- Doris Martinez
11. Woodbury, MN Top 100 rank: 11 Population: 63,600
What brings outsiders to Woodbury? Sports and health care. The city's Bielenberg Sports Complex, which houses 18 softball fields, two ice rinks, and a volleyball court, often hosts pro games. U.S. and international tourists seeking top medical care are drawn to Woodbury's more than 120 health-care firms, including several of the country's best hospitals. Woodbury is widely considered one of the top places in the Twin Cities area to raise a family, thanks to highly rated schools and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. -- Lisa Mahapatra
10. Chapel Hill, NC Top 100 rank: 10 Population: 59,000
Locals aren't exaggerating when they refer to Chapel Hill as a "town within a park." The roads wind through tunnels of arching trees, and the area has a rain forest-like charm. But Chapel Hill isn't just a pretty face. It's part of the state's Research Triangle, which boasts one of the highest numbers of Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. The town also houses the nation's oldest public university, and interesting educational opportunities abound. The main drawbacks? Parts of the downtown aren't in great shape, and some areas feel overrun by students.
9. Overland Park, KS Top 100 rank: 9 Population: 175,300
There's no lack of town spirit in Overland Park. Independent shops line downtown streets and residents rave about their friendly neighbors. Residents and visitors alike flock to the biweekly farmers' market, known as one of the best in the area, and enjoy the 300-acre arboretum, world-class soccer fields, and a re-created turn-of-the-century family farm. The biggest knock on the city is that its fortunes depend heavily on its largest employer, Sprint. There have been no layoffs lately, however, and a half-dozen midsize firms moved to town in the past year. Nightlife is a little skimpy, but Kansas City is nearby for a late night escape.
8. Columbia/Ellicott City, MD Top 100 rank: 8 Population: 100,700
Living on the border of Columbia and Ellicott City offers the best of both worlds -- a charming, historic downtown with plenty of restaurants (Ellicott City) and a thoughtfully laid-out planned community with tons of big-box stores and a giant arena (Columbia). Families in this pair of unincorporated cities get to enjoy living in a community with a diverse population, reasonable housing costs, terrific schools, miles of hiking trails, and a new development, Blandair Park, which will include 20 acres of forest, wetlands, meadows, and a historic farm complex.
7. Reston, VA Top 100 rank: 7 Population: 60,300
Reston may be a planned community, but don't expect cookie-cutter homes here. Thanks to famed master planner Robert Simon, houses of all shapes and sizes sit next to one another. Activities come in all stripes too, from an über-urban downtown to 55 miles of bike paths, 52 tennis courts, and 15 pools. Thanks to Reston's growing reputation as a technology hub near Washington Dulles International Airport, major firms have large offices here. Those who do commute to D.C. contend with traffic, but next year's completion of the Washington Metro's extension to Reston will help alleviate the pain.
6. Irvine, CA Top 100 rank: 6 Population: 213,600
Irvine has all the surf, sand, and sun Southern California is known for, with 44 miles of bike trails, 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, and a beach 10 miles away. Thanks to smart planning, this big city can feel surprisingly small. The 40-year-old community is divided into 40 "villages," and a minimum of five acres of park space is added for every 1,000 newcomers. Home prices are high, but new development is creating more affordable options - along with new schools, bike paths, and green spaces
5. Redmond, WA Top 100 rank: 5 Population: 55,200
Redmond may be home to one of the largest companies in the world, but life in the city is anything but a grind. With Seattle just 15 miles to the west, the Cascade Mountains a short drive to the east, and more than 90 wineries to the north, Microsoft's hometown is an ideal base camp for exploring the Northwest. Meanwhile, there's plenty to do right in Redmond, where historic buildings, quirky shops, eateries, and brewpubs mingle in colorful condo and retail developments with public art and giant evergreens. Redmond's picturesque neighborhoods, low crime rate, and stellar schools are a major part of the city's attraction.
4. Newton, MA Top 100 rank: 4 Population: 84,700
You might think folks in Newton are obsessed with education. The city is divided into 13 villages built around elementary schools, making it easy for kids to walk to school amid the city's lush greenery. Being close to prestigious universities adds even more benefits -- MIT partnered with the innovation lab at a local high school on a project to convert algae into fuel, for example, and Boston College will donate $300,000 for technology for Newton schools over three years. There's also a wealth of activities, from swimming at Crystal Lake to browsing boutiques in Newton Centre to celebrations like Taste of Newton. Though housing prices are high, families say the perks are well worth it.
3. Eden Prairie, MN Top 100 rank: 3 Population: 61,200
Not much has changed in Eden Prairie lately, and that's a good thing. It still has the heady combination of terrific employment prospects, natural beauty, and a well-educated workforce. It's also kept a healthy budget surplus of 2% the past two years. Already home to major business firms, the city is preparing for further expansion with a light commuter rail project in the works for 2018. You have to look hard to find downsides, but there are a few: winters are long and cold, and there's not much of a downtown besides a mega shopping mall. But families come for the jobs and stay for the lifestyle.
2. McKinney, TX Top 100 rank: 2 Population: 136,100
Established in 1849, McKinney is one of northern Texas' oldest towns. Stroll around downtown, and you'll see cotton mills and feed stores transformed into hip boutiques and art galleries. The city offers plenty of housing options, from starter homes to old Victorians and "Texas-style" five-bedrooms. Low taxes have lured companies with white-collar jobs in technology and energy, a new hospital opened in July, and a conference center and hotel complex is in the works. McKinney's location on the fringes of the Dallas area means commuters have a longer drive downtown, but also easy access to rolling green hills, golf courses, and leafy open spaces lacking in neighboring towns.
1. Carmel, IN Top 100 rank: 1 Population: 80,100
Five years ago Carmel was a quiet, upscale bedroom community that offered an easy 20-minute commute to downtown Indianapolis. Despite the recession, this formerly sleepy burb has since transformed itself into the ideal place to work and play. Carmel's business district now has the second-largest concentration of office workers in Indiana and an unemployment rate that's just over half the national average. The city also has excellent schools, a big sports and recreation center, a performing arts center, and wide bike lanes. All that, plus a variety of housing options ranging from older homes to new subdivisions, and you have an irresistible draw for families.Via CNN Money