When it comes to the economy, it’s bad, but not all bad. A team of CNN Money writers joined Onboard Informatics in ranking the top small towns (under 50,000 people) in the country for low crime and high employment, as well as good schools, cultural attractions and weather, among other factors. If “Green Acres” is the place for you, check out these overlooked and underdeveloped American hamlets.
7. Liberty, Mo.
Population: 29,100 Unemployment: 7.6%
Vanessa Richardson notes Liberty is a draw for history buffs and Mormons (or both). “Known to tourists as the town where Jesse James’ gang staged its first daytime bank robbery—and where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith languished in jail before fleeing west—Liberty today is a charming place with a quick commute to Kansas City’s mix of jobs in telecom, engineering, and life sciences,” Richardson writes.
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6. Hanover, N.H.
Population: 8,600 Unemployment: 4.4%
“Dartmouth College, located in this hamlet near the White Mountains, gives Hanover an economic, social, and cultural advantage rare in towns so far from major urban centers,” Pieter van Noordennen writes. “Unemployment in town is about half the statewide average (Dartmouth and its top-rated medical center provide over 12,000 jobs).”
5. Papillion, Neb.
Population: 18,900 Unemployment: 4.2%
“Nebraska, sexy? You’d better believe it,” Sarah Max boldly states. “With agriculture booming, towns here are showing employment and housing-market strength that’s the envy of the coasts. Papillion is no exception; its economy benefits from a broad base of industries, including health care and transportation, in nearby Omaha.”
4. Leesburg, Va.
Population: 42,600 Unemployment: 4.1%