43. La Palma, Calif.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$605,500|
La Palma is as close to “small town” as you’re going to get in the Los Angeles-Orange County area. Covering just 1.8 square miles, it’s Orange County’s smallest ‘burb. Just south of the Los Angeles County border, La Palma has easy access to the beach, the city, and Disneyland; Knott’s Berry Farm is right next door. And because it's halfway between downtown L.A. and Irvine on Interstate 5, it's a desirable location for commuters who want to save time in the infamous area traffic. But residents pay for the central location—median home prices hover around $600,000.
La Palma has the lowest crime rate and the quickest police response time in Orange County. Its schools, while high-ranking, are served by five separate school districts, meaning many students are assigned to a school that’s not closest to home, or even in La Palma. The town recently proposed “open enrollment” legislation that would allow high school students to transfer into a La Palma school if they wished, but the bill was shot down in the state legislature.—Vanessa Richardson