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: $54,350
Median Home Price: $247,500
Households with Children: 29%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 9:1
Great Schools Rating: 9
When heavy rains pounded this New England town last spring, J.P. Cloutier, 43, a computer programmer and volunteer firefighter, worked round the clock dispatching emergency crews and pumping out waterlogged homes. He had plenty of assistance. "There were neighbors helping neighbors and kids carrying couches from basements for older residents," he says. "That's because people here know what it means to be a community," adds wife Trisha, 43, a dental hygienist.
The Cloutiers love everything about their hometown, including its scenic view of Narragansett Bay—perfect for corn and clam boils—affordable homes, and top-notch schools. "We don't have any bullying, alcohol, or other problems because the teachers really care about students and want us to succeed," says daughter Rachel, 13. She pays it forward by tutoring first- and second- graders in math, and also teaches catechism classes at St. Elizabeth Church with sister Lauren, 15. "We try to tell our kids that the world is going to remember you for what you leave behind, not for what you took," says Trisha. "Living in Bristol, where everyone gives back, makes it easy."
Good Deeds: All of the town's tenth-graders are required to do a year of community service. Working in small groups with adult mentors, teens have made videos on the dangers of drunk driving and presented them to middle schoolers. They also pitch in by helping to clean up the beaches and monitor water pollution in Bristol Harbor.