By Michael J. Weiss
Median Income: $70,065
Median Home Value: $166,000
Households with Children: 45%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16:1
From her family's quaint 1903 Victorian home, Melissa Hulsey, 39, walks the 2 miles to the employment agency she owns. Husband Jamey, 42, can drive to his job at the local electric company in 10 minutes flat. As for their kids -- 6-month-old Adeline, Jack, 7, and Alison, 9 -- "there's always something within easy reach, like sports leagues, outdoor concerts, movie nights, and hayrides," Melissa says. "You don't have to make a big production of packing up the car to go everywhere."
Ordinances in this Civil War-era town require the use of 19th-century brick architecture, including lampposts and benches. Civic pride, superb schools, and a half-dozen universities in nearby Atlanta are a big draw -- the population has tripled since 1980. But Kennesaw hasn't outgrown its sense of community. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce pays for SAT prep courses for hundreds of high school juniors. "Kids have the best chance of getting into the college they want," says Melissa. "How many places can you say that about?"
Family-friendly perk: Kids and grown-ups can brush up on their history watching combat reenactments at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.Cooper City, Florida
Median Income: $85,402
Median Home Value: $375,000
Households with Children: 52%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 21:1
Lori Green, 43, gave up a nursing job last year to spend more time with kids Jeremy, 15, and Heather, 17, but she never slowed down. She became a parent liaison at her local high school and joined an advisory council, providing input on curriculum. Lori's one of many moms who have helped area schools earn the state's highest rating. "We take volunteering seriously," she says. That includes husband Mitch, 49, a lawyer who coaches baseball for one of the town's many sports leagues, which boast 6,000 youngsters. Team spirit has made Cooper City so desirable that homes are often sold by word of mouth. "Most towns have to beg for volunteers," he says. "We've got a surplus of helping hands."
Family-friendly perk: Green and proud of it, Cooper City helps folks who've lost trees to storms or hurricanes by replacing them for free.