Rating the Suburbs 2010 - Top Suburbs

Services, schools and low taxes lift this city to our top spot.
<< 1 Twinsburg

Laura Leonard loves a good story. As the director of the Twinsburg Public Library, she’s read a lot of them, discovering other places and times. But as a born-and-raised Twinsburg resident, the 42-year-old prefers her reality to any book.

“There’s a lot of security here — familiar places, familiar people,” she says of deciding to settle down in her Summit County hometown after attending college out of state. “It’s perfect to live and work in the same town you grew up in.”

Taking the No. 1 spot in this year’s Rating the Suburbs, the city of Twinsburg has many stories to be proud of. Ten years ago, the city saw a boost in population that changed the small community of about 9,000 into one almost double in size. The economy was up, businesses expanded, and others moved to town. That healthy tax base soon led to new single-family developments.

Today, the school system has an excellent with distinction rating from the State of Ohio Department of Education for the second year in a row, and city amenities include an affordable fitness center. The public library Leonard oversees has been ranked No. 1 for its size six out of the past 10 years, including this year as it celebrates its centennial.

Leonard’s list of favorite things about her city includes Liberty Park, where she takes her cavalier King Charles spaniel, Calamity Jane, to play.

“We get people from outside the community who come in and are stunned by what Twinsburg has to offer,” she says.

But the city has faced adversity, too. The recent closing of the city’s Chrysler plant will result in the loss of 1,000 jobs and a revenue shortfall of about $4 million for the city. Twinsburg’s leaders have already passed a city budget 8.5 percent lower than last year’s and hope a new Cleveland Clinic medical facility set to open in 2011 and bring 300 new jobs will help offset some of that lost revenue.

Leonard has seen her city band together to get through tough times before, specifically the death of police officer Joshua Miktarian in 2008.

“That was one point where old and new Twinsburg melded together,” she says. “It affected everybody. To see the street shut down and all the people out for him was truly amazing.”

2 Orange Village

Schools that consistently rank in our Top 10 (No. 6 this year), a strong median home sale value (the fifth-largest jump between 1999 and 2009), and the most diversity of any Top 20 suburb propelled this 3.75-square-mile village to another finish near the top of our list.

3 Avon

This booming Lorain County town may be working to hang onto its country charm, but the suburb’s growth during the past decade has boosted median home sale values an impressive 43 percent between 1999 and 2009. It’s been a consistent Top 20 finisher, coming in at No. 14 in 2007 and No. 17 the past two years.

4 Solon

This East Side suburb has topped our school rankings for three of the past five years, falling only to No. 2 on the occasions it didn’t come out on top. That sterling schools performance alone gives Solon a solid leg up. Moderate taxes and abundant city services, including many activities for people with disabilities, cemented the city’s finish.

<< 5 Aurora

This outlying suburb experienced the biggest jump in median home sale value (68.5 percent) between 1999 and 2009, reminding us of pre-real-estate bust figures. Schools are also a big reason Aurora made our Top 5. After improving its finish in each of the past three years, Aurora’s school system broke the Top 10 (No. 9) in our education rankings this year.

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