Money Magazine ranked the top 50 small cities to live in and four cities in the greater Washington region cracked the top 50: North Laurel, Md.; Damascus, Md.; Urbana, Md.; and Vienna, Va.
The rankings consider factors like median income, job growth, median home price, property taxes, schools and “that special something that makes it a great place to live.” Apex, N.C., a city of about 42,000 people with a median household income of $88,558, topped the entire list.
In the D.C. area, North Laurel ranked highest, coming in at No. 23.
North Laurel, according to the rankings, is boosted by its proximity to both D.C. and Baltimore and an unemployment rate that’s lower than the state average.
“Thanks to its proximity to two major metropolitan areas, the town’s unemployment rate of roughly 4% is well below the state average of 5.3%,” Money writes. “The big draw for families, though, is Howard County’s public education system; with a graduation rate of 93%, the high schools are top-notch.”
Damascus, a town of 15,723 and a median household income of $106,104, came in at No. 31, with Money noting its high-performing Montgomery County Public Schools.
Urbana, whose residents have a median household income of $120,909, ranked No. 35 on the list.
“Talk about a booming economy,” Money writes. “Work opportunities abound thanks to the nearby MD-355/I-270 tech corridor, where more than 300,000 people work at over 18,000 businesses, including Lockheed Martin and bio-pharmaceuticals giant MedImmune (both headquartered in the tech corridor). The Social Security Administration opened a 300,000-square-foot data center in Urbana last year.”
Vienna came in at No. 48. The city, with a population of about 16,000 and a median household income of $123,400, “has a vibrant downtown, with mom-and-pop shops, locally owned restaurants, and historic buildings like the Freeman House, a country store built in 1859,” according to Money.
The magazine warned, however, that, with Tysons Corner nearby, Vienna could face potential overcrowding.
“As Tysons undergoes a major transformation from being a mostly commercial area to one with a healthy mix of commercial and residential living — Fairfax County projects Tysons’ population could soar from 21,803 people today to more than 100,000 by 2050 — Vienna is bracing for potential overcrowding, higher living expenses, and increased traffic in an area already known for brutal congestion,” Money writes.
See the full rankings here.