In our yearly roundup of perfect places to raise kids, we salute these communities for their affordable homes, green spaces, blue-ribbon schools, and giving spirit.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $75,999
Median Home Price: $185,000
Households with Children: 38%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16:1
Great Schools Rating: 10
Kathleen Ganster likes nothing better than eating dinner alfresco and taking a stroll with her husband after work. So when the day is done, Kathleen, 52, and Paul Sauers, 53, drive home from their jobs in Pittsburgh—she's a journalism teacher, he's a chemist—and head for the Hampton hills. "A typical evening for us is to walk 5 miles—we keep shorts and hiking boots in the car—then grill dinner in the backyard and maybe invite friends over for dessert," Kathleen says.
Sometimes, though, they'll take in a Pirates or Steelers game with her kids, Eliza, 20, Kenton, 18, and Cole, 16. (Paul's daughters, Christina, 23, and Elizabeth, 21, are away at college.) "You don't have to plan everything," Kathleen says. "The beauty of living here is that there are so many options, and you don't get stuck in traffic going from one place to the next."
Hampton's stellar schools are another asset. Of the hundreds of area high school students who take Advanced Placement exams every year, 84 percent earn a score of 3 or higher. Eliza is a senior at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Kenton will attend the Honors College there this fall, and Cole is thriving at Hampton High, which ranks among the top 3 percent of high schools nationwide. "I'm curious to see where all our kids will settle down," says Paul. "Call me biased, but Hampton has everything anyone could want."
Good Deeds: This township really rallies around its teachers. When a middle school instructor lost his home to a fire last Christmas, students collected $12,000 through a talent show, gift basket auctions, and candy cane sales. After an illness paralyzed a math teacher, residents raised funds to make her home wheelchair-accessible, and neighborhood volunteers assist her in the classroom.