21. Bedford, N.H.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$352,642|
Location, affordability, and fresh air are a winning equation for residents of Bedford. Commuters to Boston can drive there in about an hour, depending on traffic—just slightly longer than it takes from popular Boston 'burbs like Acton, #11 on Money's Best Places to Live list. On this side of the state line, though, residents avoid state income and sales taxes and get a lot more elbow room for their housing dollar.
Locals can also find ample employment opportunities in next-door Manchester, whose largest employers include two large hospitals, offices for three major banks, fast-growing Southern New Hampshire University, and high-tech employers including Autodesk, Texas Instruments, and Verizon.
There is also a major airport, with direct flights to New York, D.C., Chicago, and beyond. Outdoorsy types will find plenty of woods and lakes to explore locally and can be on an Atlantic beach or a Vermont ski mountain in less than two hours. Large home lots, many with pools, provide neighbors here with lots of breathing space. But the town comes together around school events, and Bedford’s newly renovated high school ranks sixth in the state. Dean Kamen, inventor of the heart stent and the Segway Scooter, also has his home and "secret research" laboratory in Bedford.—Adam Bluestein