Housing prices across the nation are being flattened by the worst economic crisis in decades. But it's still not necessarily easy to find affordable suburbs with good schools, low crime, reasonable commutes, strong economies, and a good quality of life. That's where BusinessWeek can help. We've selected one affordable suburb near the biggest city in each state where residents can find the best quality of life for their money in 2009.
Editor's note: The selected suburbs were limited to towns within 25 miles of the most populated city, with populations of 5,000 to 60,000 people, median family incomes of $51,000 to $120,000, and lower-than-average crime rates. We weighted a variety of factors including livability (short commutes, low pollution, green space), education (well-educated residents, high test scores), crime (low personal and property crime), economy (high job growth, low unemployment rate, high family income), and affordability (median household income, cost of expenditures). Affordability was most heavily weighted in our calculations. We penalized places with bad weather, a lack of racial diversity, high divorce rates, and few children. Household median income, which is derived from U.S. Census data, and the median home price are 2008 projections. The unemployment rate comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2007. The violent crime index, which is based on FBI crime statistics, is a weighted index of the most recently available seven years ("100" is the national average for violent crime, so "200" would be twice the national average and "50" would be half the national average). The commute time is the median travel time for residents in the area, and is not necessarily the time it takes to reach the largest major city.
Data coordinated by Onboard Informatics http://www.onboardinformatics.com
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