1. Middleton, Wis.
Median home price (2006):$290,269
Average property taxes (2005):$5,067
Pros: Small-town charm; booming economy; extensive parks and bike trails
Cons: Do you like winter?
Many Middletonians commute to Madison, but Middleton proper has a strong pool of jobs too, mainly in the pharmaceutical, tech and medical industries. After business hours, Middleton has more going on than you might expect for a town of 17,000. The beer garden at the Capital Brewery is host to corporate mixers, and there are good restaurants downtown.
But make no mistake: Family life is what Middleton is about. In the summer you'll see parents and kids plying the bike trails of the conservancy, splashing in the town's waterslide-equipped pool or sailing on Lake Mendota. On the downside, winter is tough, and there's not great ethnic diversity