To determine the best towns in which to live well, Forbes teamed with ZoomProspector.com, a San Francisco-based consulting firm specializing in corporate relocation.
Because geographical definitions range widely, we used the term “town” to describe every city, town, borough or Census-designated-place under 100,000 people.
To rank each town, we looked at median income; average commute; distance to highways and airports; per capita venture capital funding; per capita number of small businesses, sole-proprietorships and start-ups; the percentage of the population with bachelor’s degrees or higher; the share of professional-level workers as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); the percentage of young and educated people, or those 25-34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher; and the percentage of foreign-born residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
We also measured the per capita number of restaurants, bars, museums and cultural institutions.
2. Doral, Fla.
Location: West of downtown Miami by 13 miles.
Median income: $70,895
Strongest categories: Doral is probably most famous for its world-class golf courses and resorts, but it’s also a vibrant center of multinational importing and exporting businesses due to its proximity to the Miami airport. It ranks second for the number of sole proprietors running their own business and third for its share of young and educated workers. Thanks to the resort communities and high-end clientele, it also ranks toward the top for restaurants per capita.
Drawbacks: While there is plenty of entrepreneurial and smal- business activity in Doral, there aren’t many cutting-edge companies developing new technologies or creating new fields. Its rank for venture capital cash and patents are low, despite its third place ranking for start-ups.
9. Coral Gables, Fla.
Location: A southwest suburb of Miami.
Median income: $83,129
Strongest categories: Coral Gables ranks third for its number of small businesses per capita. Nearby University of Miami helps both its start-up score–tied for fourth overall–and the number of patents per capita. While it ranks in the middle of the pack for patents, it’s No. 1 in Florida. Weather and restaurants are also a plus, as are the entertainment options the university attracts.
Drawbacks: While there are plenty of BLS-defined professionals here, Coral Gables lags behind others on our list. Further, it has a low share of young and educated workers, suggesting that Miami grads don’t stick around into their mid-20s through 30s.
25. Kendall, Fla.
Location: A southwest suburb of Miami, out the Don Shula Expressway, and on even parallel with Key Biscayne.
Median income: $62,887
Strongest categories: Kendall performs well by our sole proprietors and start-ups rankings, where it boasts 0.12 and 0.0041 per capita, respectively. Both scores rank in the top 10.
Drawbacks: There isn’t a critical mass of high-level research universities nearby, and Kendall does poorly in attracting young and educated people. Venture capital money is scarce, and with an average commute of 30 minutes, residents spend a lot of time on the road.