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10 Best Towns for Families: 2011


St. Charles, Illinois

St. Charles, Illinois

Population: 33,015
Median Income: $84,881
Median Home Price: $221,000
Households with Kids: 37%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Great Schools Rating: 9

Chicago residents Mike and Monica Corbett were diehard urbanites. But after visiting St. Charles on a weekend golfing trip, the couple was so smitten they decided to trade the Windy City for this town, 40 miles west. It was the right choice. "We have twice the living space plus an acre of property," says Monica, 47, a music teacher. "And we can walk downtown and take in great culture and restaurants." Along with their four children—Morgan, 17, Palmer, 14, Tommy, 11, and Hadley, 8—the Corbetts spend much of their time outdoors at Pottawatomie Park, which has panoramic views of the Fox River. Education is first-rate: Last year North High became the third school in the district to earn a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon award. But Monica and Mike, 45, a finance manager, are even more impressed with St. Charles' community spirit. "I'll never forget the time a police officer rewarded kids who wore bike helmets with free coupons for ice cream, or when our neighbor offered to lend us his car while he was away for the winter," says Monica. "This place is a little slice of heaven."

Good Deeds

Every September St. Charles' high school drill teams begin fundraising for the American Cancer Society and a local health center; the campaign, which netted an impressive $74,000 last year, culminates in October at the homecoming football game, where people line up across the field and do 100 kicks.