In our yearly roundup of perfect places to call home, we give high marks to these communities for their affordable housing, good neighbors, green space, and A+ schools.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $62,127
Median Home Price: $215,312
Households with Children: 31%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16:1
Great Schools Rating: 9
With Nashville just 18 miles away, Hendersonville is home to several country music legends, including the Oak Ridge Boys and T.G. Sheppard. But here it's the kids who can't step out without being noticed. Just ask Wade Evans. When the 19-year-old college sophomore had a few too many friends packed into his car, his mom, Debbi, got phone calls from concerned neighbors. "There's a kind of unspoken agreement among parents to look out for each other's children," she says. "It's not like anyone's telling on them, just keeping them safe."
And the kids are all right with the grown-up grapevine. "Everyone knows everyone else here, and sometimes the attention can be a little annoying," says daughter Mackenzie, 17. "But it keeps you grounded and humble knowing you can't get away with anything."
Debbi, 49, a first-grade teacher, and husband Mark, 49, who co-owns a triathlon supply store, also take pride in their hometown schools, where student achievement routinely surpasses state and national averages. The Evanses like to spend summer afternoons at Old Hickory Lake, exploring its secluded coves on Jet Skis or just relaxing on inner tubes. "There are so many healthy activities for kids," says Debbi. "On any given evening you head over to the park or ball field and it's full of families, practicing, playing, enjoying each other's company. We love being a part of that."
Gold Star: At Hendersonville High, the 315 seniors logged a total of 20,000 hours at retirement homes, food banks, and literacy centers with the Leadership Summer project.