Where are paychecks a little fatter or living costs a little cheaper? Where can you get more bang for your real estate buck? Looking to get the best maternity leave? Check out these finds.
- Lowest Monthly Mortgage: Buffalo, New York With a median payment of $760 per month and an average total mortgage of less than $60,000, residents here pay just one third the housing costs of list-topper Honolulu.
- Highest Household Earnings: San Jose, California Residents of this warm-weather community earn an average annual salary of $70,240 per household. "Even after the tech bubble burst, the truly creative jobs -- thinking up and designing new computer hardware and software -- stayed here and still tend to command higher-than-average salaries," says Robert Mullins, a San Jose Business Journal reporter.
- Best Parental Leave: California The Golden State is truly family friendly. It's the only state in the entire country to receive an A grade in a National Partnership for Women & Families report comparing policies on job-protected, family, pregnancy, maternal, paternal, and paid leave.
- Lowest Rate of Childhood Poverty: Appleton, Wisconsin Only 7.5 percent of children here are raised under impoverished conditions, compared with 16 percent of all children living at or below the poverty level nationally.
- Lowest Unemployment: Fairfax County, Virginia With a jobless rate of less than 1 percent, most people here can feel secure about providing for their growing family.
- Cheapest City for Commuters: Brownsville, Texas Short commute times and low gas prices mean these Texas residents spend less money fueling up than drivers anywhere else, according to the Sperling's Best Places Web site.