Residents who live in these 25 growing towns see their incomes go the furthest.
Homewood boasts a large creative class -- many residents are musicians, designers, art curators and educators. And low real estate prices here make it easier for them to follow their muses: Two-bedroom condos regularly go for around $60,000, while those who need more space can get 4,000-sq.-ft. homes for $400,000.
The town feels very walkable, but cyclists will find plenty of paths and storefront bike racks. For big-city entertainment, Chicago's just 22 miles away. Still, there's plenty to do close to home. The town has 60 events a year, ranging from an art and garden fair to movies in the park.
Powder Springs, GA
Families love Powder Springs's charming downtown and pleasant quality of life. They also appreciate its reasonable real estate prices: Three-bedroom homes are on the market here for $75,000 and less.
Another big draw is McEachern High School, which used to be a college campus. The school is supported by a large endowment, according to city manager Brad Hulsey. "People really want their kids to attend," he said.
Winter Weather Georgia
The snow covered statue of late Georgia Governor and U.S. Sen.Richard B. Russell points the direction for a pedestrian as she makes her way past the state capitol while snow begins to accumulate Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Atlanta.
An Indian sales assistant arranges gold bangles in a jewelry shop in Hyderabad, India, on May 13, 2013
Boehner, House Leaders Hold Speak To Media At The Capitol
From left, Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Republican Conference vice chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, House majority leader Eric Cantor and Representative Nan Hayworth attend a news conference on Capitol Hill on July 10, 2012
A baker poses with a marzipan mosaic of Britain's Queen Elizabeth in the City of London
A baker poses with a marzipan mosaic of Queen Elizabeth II at Konditor and Cook in London on May 3, 2012.
A classic New England town in the heart of Connecticut, Cromwell is filled with late 18th- and 19th-century Victorian, Colonial and Federal houses. More than 120 buildings there are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But even those historic homes are affordable. A house built in 1840 with three bedrooms, hardwood floors and two fireplaces sold recently for $170,000.
Many town residents have well-paying jobs in nearby Hartford, working for the state government or for one of the many insurance and financial services firms there, like Travelers, Aetna and The Hartford.
Neenah is home to 3,800 feet of Lake Winnebago shoreline, where residents spend a lot of time boating, waterskiing, fishing and sailing. The water is so important to the community that last year, a local woman donated $600,000 to build a waterfront park.
This city maintains a base of jobs in the metal foundry and papermaking industries, but the service sector is now more prevalent, according to Neenah's mayor, George Scherk.
Housing-wise, Neenah offers everything from modest homes for factory workers and clerks to luxury mansions for paper industry millionaires, according to Scherck. Prices are low. Last year, a 7,000-square-foot house sold for $770,000.