Rating the Suburbs 2012: The No. 1 Suburb

With strong schools, low crime and steady home-sale values this West Side suburb takes the top spot.

Bay Village

Shelly and Mike Morrison got what they wanted for Christmas: a baby boy and a house in Bay Village.

The Morrisons sold their starter home in Lakewood last fall, knowing they were on an adoption list and would soon need more space. In two weeks, they went on a shopping blitz through two dozen houses.

"Pretty much every home I ended up liking was in Bay," Shelly says. "They weren't your cookie-cutter development houses. [They] seemed like they were very solidly built."

They'll remember Dec. 1, 2011, forever. That's the day the Morrisons put in their offer on their large Cape Cod in Bay Village — and learned a birth mother had chosen them. The Morrisons picked up their week-old baby boy, Charlie, on Dec. 3, and moved into their new home with him on Dec. 29.

Now Charlie has a big bedroom to grow up in, across the hall from Mom and Dad. Simon, the family's dog, runs about the fenced-in 3/4-acre lot.

"The location was ideal," Shelly says. It's a five-minute drive from both Crocker Park and Huntington Beach.

That suburban idyll appeals to a lot of families like the Morrisons. Bay Village is our No. 1 suburb this year, thanks to its strong schools, low crime and stable, growing home-sale values.

Bay Village is also surprisingly affordable. "We're seeing a big influx of new and young families moving into Bay Village," says Mayor Deborah Sutherland. "You can get a two- or three-bedroom bungalow for $120,000, or a house for several million, or everything in between."

Bay Village, No. 1 in our 1995 and 1996 rankings, leaps back to the top spot thanks to a striking trend. While the housing market's downturn caused home prices to drop in most Cleveland suburbs between 2006 and 2011, Bay Village's median home sale value went up 12.2 percent, more than any other suburb. Nos. 2 and 4 in sale-price increase were Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. Why are these older towns defying the trend?

"It's the quality of the neighborhoods," Sutherland says. "You can walk to the grocery store, restaurants and parks." They're beautiful cities, she adds, full of parkland and tall canopies of trees.

"I got a lot of value for my money," Shelly says.

Neighborhood Hot Spot

"One thing that makes it attractive is the proximity to the lake," says Howard Hanna's Dan Weist of the Bay Village neighborhood along Ashton Lane. "You can get to Crocker Park easily as well. It's a pretty quiet neighborhood with well-maintained homes. It's not strictly ranches, but the majority are definitely ranch-type [homes]."

What You Get

Ashton Lane

Asking price: $179,000

Selling price: $175,000

Square feet: 2,304

No. of bedrooms: 3

No. of bathrooms:

Time on the market: 37 days

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