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10 Best Towns for Families

Chanhassen, MN Chanhassen, Minnesota

Population: 25,133
Median Income: $98,296
Median Home Value: $293,250
Households with Children: 50%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16:1

Some communities define themselves by their proximity to a big city. Here, residents like Brian Lundquist, 36, talk about their nearness to a lake. "We're only a hundred yards from the water and a wetlands area," says Brian, a manager for ConAgra who moved to Chanhassen from Toledo, Ohio, in 2000 with wife Kellie, 37, and children Lily, 8, and Jordan, 10. "We open a window and see a loon flying overhead." An eco-haven situated 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis, the town has 12 lakes, 55 miles of walking trails, and 27 parks (local regulations, in fact, require every home to be within a half-mile from one). Even the winters are family friendly: Kids participate in ice-fishing contests to catch the most crappies, then gather around a fire to toast s'mores. Given the modest nightlife -- there's only one movie theater -- families entertain at home, inviting friends over to grill burgers and hot dogs in their backyard fire pit. "The kids like to play tag or alphabet memory games," says Kellie, a part-time preschool teacher. "They get so much more out of entertaining one another under the stars than vegging out in front of a TV or computer."

Family-friendly perk: The 950-seat Chanhassen Dinner Theatre serves up supper and Broadway musicals like Grease and Les Miserables.

Turn Your Town Around

Sure, small is beautiful. But even if you live in a metropolis, there are steps you can take to make life feel more like the good ol' days.

  • Create a walkable community. Lobby officials to repair broken sidewalks, build public spaces for residents to gather and sit, and designate areas for people first, cars second. See walkable.org.
  • Go green. Urge local leaders to participate in Tree City USA (treecityusa.org), which plants and preserves greenery. Ask dry cleaners to replace perchloroethylene, an air and groundwater contaminant, with biodegradable detergent. Join the Cool Cities campaign (coolcities.us) and urge your mayor to pursue smart energy solutions.
  • Bring back safety after sunset. Join National Night Out (nationalnightout.org) to heighten drug and crime awareness and clean up problem neighborhoods.

How We Chose

With the help of On Board, a New York City research firm providing real estate and demographic data, Family Circle assembled a list of 1,850 places with populations between 15,000 and 150,000 and a high concentration of households with an average income of $65,000. From that, 800 localities were selected based on our family-friendly criteria, including cost of living, jobs, schools, healthcare, air quality, green space, and crime rate. We assessed which towns best met those standards and ranked them according to state. Family Circle selected the winners from the highest-rated towns in the top 10 states nationwide.

Wanted: People Who Love Where They Live

Go to familycircle.com/towns and tell us why we should pack up and move to your place. Maybe we'll even feature you and your kids in our My Hometown page in the magazine!

Neighborhood content provided by On Board LLC. Copyright © 2007 On Board LLC. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

On Board LLC
 

Originally published in Family Circle magazine, August 2007.