1. Dickinson, ND
Located near the rugged, rocky badlands of North Dakota, the town of Dickinson is experiencing a surge in new residents, businesses and amenities. Dickinson's population grew by nearly 50 percent over the past three years, according to city officials. A proliferation of jobs in the energy development sector, coupled with gains in manufacturing, tourism and agriculture continue to attract people. Planners estimate the Dickinson area will see a 48 percent increase in new homes by 2020.
What keeps new residents in Dickinson is the growing array of amenities, good schools and recreational opportunities. Natural attractions like the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Little Missouri National Grasslands and Patterson Lake give residents chances to hike, camp, fish and experience the wide-open beauty of western North Dakota. Among the many improvement projects planned for Dickinson are the creation of a new public safety center for the police and fire departments, a new hospital, new waste reclamation facility, and a long list of street, water and sewer upgrades.
Sports teams for Dickinson State University, Dickinson High School and Trinity High School play games at the Biesiot Activities Center, a 5,500-square-foot facility with indoor and outdoor playing surfaces. The city maintains more than 20 parks on 1,538 acres that include playgrounds, athletic fields, picnic areas and walking trails.
Downtown Dickinson contains many historic buildings, which house shops, restaurants and offices. More shops, including well-known chain stores, can be found at Prairie Hills Mall. Residents gather to celebrate the community during several annual events, including Roughrider Days Fair and Expo, the Northern Plains Ethnic Festival, rodeos and concerts.
*Growth rate (2010-12): 50%
Size: 10 square miles
2013 Median home price: $266,245
Average commute: 13 minutes
*Source: Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau