23. North Laurel, Md.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$304,500|
There’s no shortage of job opportunities for residents of North Laurel. Thanks to its proximity to two major metropolitan areas—Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—the town’s unemployment rate of roughly 4% is well below the state average of 5.3%. 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.
North Laurel Park offers a 12,000 square foot Skate Park, basketball and tennis courts, and baseball diamonds. Residents also make the short drive to downtown Columbia (ranked no. 6 on Money’s 2014 Best Places to Live) for shopping, dining, and fishing and kayaking on Lake Kittamaqundi. Real estate, however, can be pricey: North Laurel’s median home price is $332,000. And rush hour traffic to Baltimore and D.C. on I-95 can be brutal.—Daniel Bortz