Cost of Living Index (100 is U.S. Avg., lower is better): 129
Civic Engagement Index (100 is U.S. Avg., higher is better): 117
Crime Rate (100 is U.S. Avg., lower is better): 40
Quality of Schools: 8/10
2. Dobbs Ferry, NY
Located along the Hudson River about 20 miles north of New York City, the village of Dobbs Ferry, NY offers its 10,000-plus residents a compelling mix of charm and convenience. Once the overlooked neighbor of Hastings and Irvington, Dobbs Ferry – one of the 10 Best Small Towns – has come into its own in recent years, attracting city folks looking for the slower pace small towns afford.
Another reason Dobbs Ferry attracts newcomers is its top-ranked schools. The village was the first in Westchester County to offer the International Baccalaureate diploma at Dobbs Ferry High School. Comprised of an elementary, middle and high school, the Dobbs Ferry School District offers small class sizes, a challenging curriculum and a learning environment that feels more like a private school setting. More than 98 percent of teachers have graduate degrees. Not only does the school system have a high graduation rate, some 97 percent of graduates go on to pursue a college degree at one of the many Ivy League, Big Ten and State University of New York schools, as well as at Mercy College, a private, four-year institution located in Dobbs Ferry with undergraduate and graduate programs.
Residents enjoy an active lifestyle with access to a variety of neighborhood and waterfront parks and nature preserves. For example, Gould Park in the center of the town, features two swimming pools, a playground, basketball court and multi-sport ballfields. Thanks to a comprehensive public transportation system, which includes bus and commuter rail service, Dobbs Ferry boasts one of the shortest commutes to work of any of the towns on our list. In fact, about 10 percent of residents don't even own a car, preferring to walk, bike or take public transportation. The lowered emissions is one reason Dobbs Ferry is a certified Climate Smart Community and part of a network of communities dedicated to reducing greenhouse emissions and minimizing the risks of climate change.
Dobbs Ferry offers families a diverse range of housing options – from condos and co-ops to quaint Victorian bungalows and multi-million-dollar mini mansions. Residents also appreciate the demographic diversity and the wide range of cultural opportunities that diversity brings. For example, the town's restaurant scene is an eclectic mix of Italian, American, Greek and Mediterranean eateries.