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‘Hulk’ star Ruffalo joins call for global wealth tax

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US actor Mark Ruffalo was one of dozens of new millionaires to put their names to an open letter titled 'In Tax We Trust'
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US actor Mark Ruffalo on Tuesday joined a call by over 150 wealthy people for governments to tax them more, as global elites and policymakers met at the World Economic Forum in Swiss resort Davos.

The face of Hulk in a decade of Marvel movies was one of dozens of new millionaires to put their names to an open letter titled “In Tax We Trust”, which was first delivered to attendees at a virtual WEF conference in January.

“While the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic — yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes,” the letter read.

The Patriotic Millionaires group said it had boosted the number of signatories to over 150 by May, from 100 in January.

Its chairman Morris Pearl, a former managing director at mammoth asset manager BlackRock, vowed in a statement to “continue to pressure global leaders to heed our call: tax the rich before it’s too late”.

But Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secretary-general Mathias Cormann said that wealth taxes could be less effective than other revenue-raising options.

“They don’t necessarily raise that much revenue,” he told a panel discussion at Davos. 

“In terms of the politics of it, it’s attractive, but in terms of the substance of what it achieves it’s not that attractive.”

Cormann did suggest that “property taxes are probably the most efficient, least distorting” form of wealth tax.

“There’s huge scope in wealth taxation… it’s been tried and in some countries it works,” Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher responded.

“These amounts that are being accumulated. You could not spend them in several lifetimes”.

Cormann and the OECD are betting on a deal struck by over 130 countries last year to tax multinational companies at a minimum of 15 percent to boost revenue for hard-up governments.

Asked if Washington might walk back its commitment should Republicans win control of Congress at November mid-term elections, Cormann said that “it’s in the rational self-interest of the United States to be part of this deal”.

For companies, it’s “much better for them to be operating in a globally consistent framework” rather than navigate conflicting tax regimes, he added.

“I can’t imagine that any country or any side of politics in any country would make a judgement that would put themselves at that sort of disadvantage.”

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Tech agility and relationship building among pillars of digital transformation for CIOs, HBR report finds

A look at HBR’s recent report about the changing role of CIOs and building resilience in digital transformation

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HBR recently released a report (sponsored by Red Hat as part of The Enterprisers Project), on the changing roles and landscapes of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) leading organizations through digital transformation

The goal? Resilience. 

Specifically, resilience in an organization’s people, business processes, and tech infrastructure. 

But don’t get too caught up in the tech just yet. As UC Dublin business professor Joe Peppard is quoted in the report, “digital transformation is less a technology challenge and more a leadership one.”

HBR shares how CIOs can step up to the plate with leadership that fosters resilience amidst digital transformation:

Adaptability for CIOs and the organizations they lead

Digital transformation is a response to change, whether that change is innovation, customer demands, or industry trends. Today’s CIO must prepare their organizations to adapt to those changes, specifically: 

  • Adapt new processes to speed up product development
  • Collaborate to create new business models
  • Respond faster to client demands
  • Experiment and pivot quickly
  • Attract and retain IT talent

To achieve all that, the role of CIO has quickly expanded its job duties. Indeed, 89% of CIOs feel their role has become “more important,” the report found, while 88% agree their role is the most “critical component” of their organization’s sustenance. 

What do these expanded duties look like, apart from leading adaptable organizations? The CIO is an educator, coach, strategic adviser, entrepreneur, relationship builder, and change agent. HBR even includes “evangelist” in the mix. 

Managing expectations, relationships, and talent

Communication and relationship building are increasingly important, even in a tech-dominated industry. HBR cites an IDC statement that CIOs will even out inflation, shortages, and other economic changes through negotiations and relationship building. 

Of course, that communication is vital internally as well. CIOs need to lead staff, managers, and executives through pivoting plans, unpredictable results, and changing expectations. How? Through empathy, a vital component in supporting a successful organization and successful professionals within one. This also includes fostering safety, diversity, personal growth, inclusion, and autonomy for experimentation, and learning from failures. 

Finally, there comes the talent — starting at recruitment, all the way to career development and flexible work arrangements for IT staff. 

Making tech more agile

CIOs can’t do this on their own. However, they can embrace transformation tools and support their organization using them. HBR cites a PwC study on strategies for adapting to new tech tools, including: 

  • Making an IT strategy more agile
  • Using infrastructure investment to move to the cloud
  • Leveraging data and analytics to inform strategic decisions

CIOs aren’t just responsible for securing the new tech. They also need to strategically and operationally decide how to best harness each tech’s capabilities. The answer comes from the entire organization, as business operations and IT become unsiloed to support better collaboration. 

Read the full report

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Why aren’t more people buying their cars online?

A 2021 Carfax survey found that only 8% of buyers want to buy their next new or used car online.

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The Covid-19 pandemic drove us into quarantine and lockdowns, and if you happened to be in the market for a new or used car, you probably weren’t schlepping to a dealership to make the purchase in-person. Rather, online transactions increased, and some say that’s the direction automotive retail we’ll continue to go.

According to a study by Capital One Auto Navigator, 56 percent of car dealers stepped up their use of digital tools in response to the pandemic. A Think with Google article said 63 percent of auto purchasers would consider ordering their next car online.

Besides Tesla’s online-only sales, online car sales have been around for some time, with various outlets including Cardoor.ca, Canadadrives.ca, Clutch.ca, Carnex.ca, Carvana and Vroom. But the pandemic served “as a catalyst to accelerate this transformation,” said Jessica Stafford, Senior Vice President, Consumer Solutions, Cox Automotive.

A 2022 study from Cox revealed that 81 percent of car shoppers felt that learning about their car online “improved the overall buying experience.” That included locating a dealer, looking up prices, finding vehicle specs, financing qualifications, investigating insurance products, and more.

“Amazon has trained consumers to be accustomed to being able to order whatever they need, not considering where it came from so long as they receive it in a timeframe that suits them, the price is within their budget, and the item is returnable,” she said. “This macro trend is now influencing car purchasing behavior with consumers open to receiving their cars from somewhere beyond their local market, as long as other conditions are favorable. In fact, many consumers now expect this, and are willing to pay a premium for some of these services.”

Cox’s data reveals buyers who complete more than 50 percent of the car shopping journey online were the most satisfied among all buyers. Reinforcing this view, Vog App Developers is expecting web-based apps for car consumers to become more the norm. That’s confirmed in this piece by Semetrical, that said nearly half of consumers are using their mobile devices to research their new car. 

Unfortunately, the industry isn’t keeping up. OSF Digital reported that almost eighty per cent of dealerships’ websites lacked the functionality for proper vehicle searches, and just over five per cent had 360-view photographs of their stock.

Michael Carmichael, president and CEO of UpAuto.ca, said that though there’s a big push from auto makers and dealers to develop the online funnel, “there is very little demand. It’s the biggest solution looking for a problem.” He believes “the emotional tie to an auto purchase is reduced dramatically. People want to come to see the car themselves and they want a relationship with the seller.” 

On the one hand, the online factor “plays a big role in an educational perspective — people doing their homework, [getting] information, and lots of pictures, and detail.” 

On the other hand, however, there are too many drawbacks: “How does my child seat fit in the back? What if it’s a smoker’s car? You can return it, but who wants to go through that hassle? It’s a lot of money,” says Carmichael.  

And he may be right: according to a 2021 Carfax Canada survey, only eight percent of Canadian buyers of new or used vehicles want to buy their next vehicle online. 

One challenge he has faced is attempted digital fraud — two attempts in recent weeks — an issue he says is rampant. “There still has to be a signature, and someone has to validate that you are who you say you are,” noting that as a lingering problem with online sales. By the end of 2021, digital fraud had been twice the problem in Canada than anywhere else in the world.

Sam Lee, Carnex.ca’s finance manager, sees things differently. 

“Purchasing a vehicle online is very straightforward,” he said. “It includes the vehicle’s imperfections and often, a good return policy. “What I see is the best model would be a hybrid system,” or more of an omnichannel approach. “In-person dealerships are time-consuming with pushy salespeople.”

EpicVin has delivered vehicle history reports for car buyers and displays used cars online, while working with hundreds of dealerships. Alex Black, its Chief Marketing Officer, says that photographs of cars have improved over time, as sellers have become more marketing savvy. 

“Nowadays, using the VR technologies, one can even create a model of a perfect car and to order it. So we can definitely say that the world of technologies introduced significant changes in the online car selling process.” On this point, the US Automotive Dealership Benchmark Study saw a direct correlation of sales to VR availability.

Zach Klempf, founder and CEO of Selly Automotive, is an automotive market contributor who has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, and other outlets. 

“For the part of the industry where there is more wear and tear on the car, it gets hard to sell that entirely online,” he explained. “But if it’s a commodity like a brand new Camry or Corolla under warranty, no major incidents, there is a market for it. Some consumers go into dealerships 

and completely change their mind on the car they want to buy once they see it and physically drive it.”

But things are looking a bit shaky for the online car industry, with volatile economic factors, noted Geoff Cudd, the CEO and founder of Find the Best Car Price. “With a diminishing supply of vehicles for sale, and the highest interest rates seen in years, the average price of a car is out of reach for the typical buyer. This is hurting all dealerships, but especially the online dealerships who overpaid to acquire vehicles from customers and they are now being forced to downsize in order to stay afloat.”  

Betakit in January confirmed as such, reporting that layoffs have been increasing in the market. 

Clutch and Canada Drives recently announced staff cuts, citing poor economic conditions. A representative from Clutch blamed a variety of factors, including “rising rates, supply chain disruptions, and volatile pricing.” 

New York Times reported that Carvana took a quarterly loss of more than a half-billion dollars, and laid off four thousand staff. In the past year, used car values have dropped 20 percent, leaving dealers to offload stock for far less than they paid, according to the Times. Cox Automotive said that 2023 sales will likely be half of the year before.

It looks like in-person shopping is here to stay, at least in the foreseeable: “There is still a general resistance by dealerships to complete the entire transaction online. Most dealers still push for an in-person meeting where they are more confident that the sales process will result in additional sales of high-margin items for the dealership,” said Cudd.

The Covid-19 pandemic drove us into quarantine and lockdowns, and if you happened to be in the market for a new or used car, you probably weren’t schlepping to a dealership to make the purchase in-person. Rather, online transactions increased, and some say that’s the direction automotive retail we’ll continue to go.

According to a study by Capital One Auto Navigator, 56 percent of car dealers stepped up their use of digital tools in response to the pandemic. A Think with Google article said 63 percent of auto purchasers would consider ordering their next car online.

Besides Tesla’s online-only sales, online car sales have been around for some time, with various outlets including Cardoor.ca, Canadadrives.ca, Clutch.ca, Carnex.ca, Carvana and Vroom. But the pandemic served “as a catalyst to accelerate this transformation,” said Jessica Stafford, Senior Vice President, Consumer Solutions, Cox Automotive.

A 2022 study from Cox revealed that 81 percent of car shoppers felt that learning about their car online “improved the overall buying experience.” That included locating a dealer, looking up prices, finding vehicle specs, financing qualifications, investigating insurance products, and more.

“Amazon has trained consumers to be accustomed to being able to order whatever they need, not considering where it came from so long as they receive it in a timeframe that suits them, the price is within their budget, and the item is returnable,” she said. “This macro trend is now influencing car purchasing behavior with consumers open to receiving their cars from somewhere beyond their local market, as long as other conditions are favorable. In fact, many consumers now expect this, and are willing to pay a premium for some of these services.”

Cox’s data reveals buyers who complete more than 50 percent of the car shopping journey online were the most satisfied among all buyers. Reinforcing this view, Vog App Developers is expecting web-based apps for car consumers to become more the norm. That’s confirmed in this piece by Semetrical, that said nearly half of consumers are using their mobile devices to research their new car. 

Unfortunately, the industry isn’t keeping up. OSF Digital reported that almost eighty per cent of dealerships’ websites lacked the functionality for proper vehicle searches, and just over five per cent had 360-view photographs of their stock.

Michael Carmichael, president and CEO of UpAuto.ca, said that though there’s a big push from auto makers and dealers to develop the online funnel, “there is very little demand. It’s the biggest solution looking for a problem.” He believes “the emotional tie to an auto purchase is reduced dramatically. People want to come to see the car themselves and they want a relationship with the seller.” 

On the one hand, the online factor “plays a big role in an educational perspective — people doing their homework, [getting] information, and lots of pictures, and detail.” 

On the other hand, however, there are too many drawbacks: “How does my child seat fit in the back? What if it’s a smoker’s car? You can return it, but who wants to go through that hassle? It’s a lot of money,” says Carmichael.  

And he may be right: according to a 2021 Carfax Canada survey, only eight percent of Canadian buyers of new or used vehicles want to buy their next vehicle online. 

One challenge he has faced is attempted digital fraud — two attempts in recent weeks — an issue he says is rampant. “There still has to be a signature, and someone has to validate that you are who you say you are,” noting that as a lingering problem with online sales. By the end of 2021, digital fraud had been twice the problem in Canada than anywhere else in the world.

Sam Lee, Carnex.ca’s finance manager, sees things differently. 

“Purchasing a vehicle online is very straightforward,” he said. “It includes the vehicle’s imperfections and often, a good return policy. “What I see is the best model would be a hybrid system,” or more of an omnichannel approach. “In-person dealerships are time-consuming with pushy salespeople.”

EpicVin has delivered vehicle history reports for car buyers and displays used cars online, while working with hundreds of dealerships. Alex Black, its Chief Marketing Officer, says that photographs of cars have improved over time, as sellers have become more marketing savvy. 

“Nowadays, using the VR technologies, one can even create a model of a perfect car and to order it. So we can definitely say that the world of technologies introduced significant changes in the online car selling process.” On this point, the US Automotive Dealership Benchmark Study saw a direct correlation of sales to VR availability.

Zach Klempf, founder and CEO of Selly Automotive, is an automotive market contributor who has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, and other outlets. 

“For the part of the industry where there is more wear and tear on the car, it gets hard to sell that entirely online,” he explained. “But if it’s a commodity like a brand new Camry or Corolla under warranty, no major incidents, there is a market for it. Some consumers go into dealerships 

and completely change their mind on the car they want to buy once they see it and physically drive it.”

But things are looking a bit shaky for the online car industry, with volatile economic factors, noted Geoff Cudd, the CEO and founder of Find the Best Car Price. “With a diminishing supply of vehicles for sale, and the highest interest rates seen in years, the average price of a car is out of reach for the typical buyer. This is hurting all dealerships, but especially the online dealerships who overpaid to acquire vehicles from customers and they are now being forced to downsize in order to stay afloat.”  

Betakit in January confirmed as such, reporting that layoffs have been increasing in the market. 

Clutch and Canada Drives recently announced staff cuts, citing poor economic conditions. A representative from Clutch blamed a variety of factors, including “rising rates, supply chain disruptions, and volatile pricing.” 

New York Times reported that Carvana took a quarterly loss of more than a half-billion dollars, and laid off four thousand staff. In the past year, used car values have dropped 20 percent, leaving dealers to offload stock for far less than they paid, according to the Times. Cox Automotive said that 2023 sales will likely be half of the year before.

It looks like in-person shopping is here to stay, at least in the foreseeable: “There is still a general resistance by dealerships to complete the entire transaction online. Most dealers still push for an in-person meeting where they are more confident that the sales process will result in additional sales of high-margin items for the dealership,” said Cudd.

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Best Midwest small towns to live in

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Stacker determined which small towns in the Midwest are the best places to live using data from Niche's 2022 Best Places to Live.
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The Midwest may be best known for its big cities of Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, but prospective homebuyers may want to turn their attention to the region’s small towns.

Across the 12 Midwest states are suburban and rural villages with more charm than size, which make for an ideal home. What these towns lack in size, they more than make up for in historical sites, lush woodlands, and friendly locals. Plus, residents can enjoy the accessibility to larger cities nearby without enduring the hustle and bustle of living in them.

To determine which of the Midwest’s small towns are the best places to live, Stacker used data from Niche’s 2022 Best Places to Live and narrowed the results to places in the Midwest with less than 5,000 residents. Niche determined its rankings by assessing factors such as cost of living, quality of public schools, crime and safety, and access to health resources. For each town, Stacker included the population, percentage of homeowners, percentage of renters, and median income.

You may also like: The richest town in every state

Pettibone Park in Glenwillow Town Center.

SilentMatt Psychedelic // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Glenwillow, Ohio

– Population: 861
– Median home value: $225,000 (84% own)
– Median rent: $716 (16% rent)
– Median household income: $84,000

Founded in 1893 as a company town by ammunition manufacturer Austin Powder Company, Glenwillow, Ohio, has been revamped. Old manufacturing facilities and housing stock have been replaced with boutiques, restaurants, and a modernized residential district. The quaint village is also part of the Solon School District, consistently rated as one of the best school systems in the state.

Franklin's downtown along Franklin Road.

Lrgjr72 // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Franklin, Michigan

– Population: 2,790
– Median home value: $612,900 (93% own)
– Median rent: $3,354 (7% rent)
– Median household income: $155,703

With an impressive amount of preserved historical architecture dating to the early 19th century, Franklin, Michigan, is home to the state’s first designated historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town, just 20 minutes from Detroit, is renowned for its large homes.

Park with giant oak trees in a suburban neighborhood.

N K // Shutterstock

#23. Tower Lakes, Illinois

– Population: 1,340
– Median home value: $465,800 (97% own)
– Median rent: $2,350 (3% rent)
– Median household income: $148,750

This small town is much more than just a Chicago suburb, although its proximity to the Windy City is part of its appeal. Tower Lakes, Illinois, is built around two lakes and prides itself on preserving the health and beauty of its environment. Residents regularly participate in reforestation and clean-up efforts; the town has been designated as a “tree city” by the Arbor Day Foundation for more than 25 years.

Exterior of a home in Bayside.

Jim Packett // Shutterstock

#22. Bayside, Wisconsin

– Population: 4,579
– Median home value: $349,000 (79% own)
– Median rent: $1,411 (21% rent)
– Median household income: $114,814

Bayside, Wisconsin, is a village in Milwaukee that is home to an environmentally minded community—with 15% of the town’s total acreage devoted to nature conservation. It’s home to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, with six miles of trails through woods and along Lake Michigan.

A view of Westwood City Hall.

Quint2724 // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Westwood, Kansas

– Population: 1,834
– Median home value: $315,400 (81% own)
– Median rent: $1,520 (19% rent)
– Median household income: $77,750

Westwood is a town in northeastern Kansas that features large parks, cycling trails, and a variety of shops and restaurants. It is also home to several University of Kansas hospital facilities, including the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

White front door with small square decorative windows.

David Papazian // Shutterstock

#20. Meridian Hills, Indiana

– Population: 1,736
– Median home value: $554,900 (100% own)
– Median rent: $2,667 (0% rent)
– Median household income: $172,969

Located just six miles from Indianapolis, Meridian Hills, Indiana, is best known for its high-end residential community. Established in 1937, the 1.5-square-mile town is characterized by rolling hills, rippling streams, and trails for hiking.

Front porch of Southern home with black rocking chairs.

Ursula Page // Shutterstock

#19. Fairway, Kansas

– Population: 4,147
– Median home value: $459,600 (91% own)
– Median rent: $1,642 (9% rent)
– Median household income: $136,579

Located close to several golf courses, this small town lives up to the inspiration behind its name with its expansive green lawns. Fairway, Kansas, is also rich in historical sites, including one National Historic Landmark—the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site.

Home with U.S. flag and pergola front porch.

David Prahl // Shutterstock

#18. River Hills, Wisconsin

– Population: 1,496
– Median home value: $637,900 (97% own)
– Median rent: $99 (3% rent)
– Median household income: $178,750

River Hills, Wisconsin, has a rich history as a summer and vacation home destination for wealthy Midwesterners. The local country club held fox hunts and polo matches well into the 1960s. The town housed a Nike anti-aircraft missile site during the Cold War. Today, the community is the only one in Milwaukee County that is zoned 100% residential, with exceptions for a country club, houses of worship, a school, and a sculpture garden.

Adirondack rocking chair with style buffalo check blanket and pillows.

Stephanie Frey // Shutterstock

#17. Moreland Hills, Ohio

– Population: 3,436
– Median home value: $463,000 (94% own)
– Median rent: $1,723 (6% rent)
– Median household income: $182,100

Located just 14 miles from Cleveland, Moreland Hills, Ohio, is an affluent suburb that prides itself on its history. The town is the birthplace of 20th president James A. Garfield. He is commemorated with four key sites along the Garfield Trail of Ohio, including a replica of the log cabin where Garfield was born. 

Grandfather playing soccer with his granddaughter in the yard.

Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#16. Orange, Ohio

– Population: 3,410
– Median home value: $373,600 (92% own)
– Median rent: $2,262 (8% rent)
– Median household income: $133,681

Orange, Ohio, is a Cleveland suburb with more than 60 acres of park space, including a golf course, hiking trails, and community garden. The town center frequently hosts festivals and celebrations for the close-knit community.

Overhead view of welcome mat outside front door of house.

WNstock // Shutterstock

#15. Kildeer, Illinois

– Population: 4,093
– Median home value: $639,900 (99% own)
– Median rent: $961 (1% rent)
– Median household income: $226,375

Kildeer, Illinois, is a Chicago suburb consisting of several upscale residential areas and four shopping centers. Its founders limited housing development exclusively to custom houses on large lots. The town is home to Kemper Lakes, a prestigious golf club that has hosted many major golf championships, including the PGA Championship.

Two dogs lying on a porch in front of a pastel blue door.

dezy // Shutterstock

#14. Leland Grove, Illinois

– Population: 1,336
– Median home value: $235,100 (95% own)
– Median rent: $1,059 (5% rent)
– Median household income: $123,810

Founded in 1950, Leland Grove offers residents plenty of trails and parks for a breath of fresh air in addition to a variety of restaurants and shops. The Springfield, Illinois, suburb covers 400 acres of grasslands and is known for its lush greenery.

Snowman built in a traffic circle in front of the Kenilworth train station.

On The Run Photo // Shutterstock

#13. Kenilworth, Illinois

– Population: 2,423
– Median home value: $1,286,500 (95% own)
– Median rent: $3,501 (5% rent)
– Median household income: $250,001

Kenilworth, Illinois, founded in 1889, is a Chicago suburb bordering Lake Michigan. The town is home to some impressive architecture thanks to the city’s former architect and town planner George W. Maher, a colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s own structure, a Prairie School-style home named the Hiram Baldwin House, is also located in the village.

Front porch seating with white rocking chairs and fresh flowers.

Lori Butcher // Shutterstock

#12. Riverwoods, Illinois

– Population: 3,742
– Median home value: $705,700 (95% own)
– Median rent: $3,238 (5% rent)
– Median household income: $213,068

Riverwoods, Illinois, is a village on the banks of the Des Plaines River located within flourishing, expansive woodlands. The town prides itself on its scenery and actively involves community members in protecting the surrounding environment.

Front of typical American colonial-style house with white columns and pillars.

BublikHaus // Shutterstock

#11. Warson Woods, Missouri

– Population: 2,229
– Median home value: $470,500 (98% own)
– Median rent: $1,450 (2% rent)
– Median household income: $173,333

Warson Woods, Missouri, is a town just west of St. Louis and offers residents an abundance of services, including a pool, pavilion for parties, and food truck nights in the summer.

Pink flower bouquet in a blue pot with a white wooden rocking chair.

ET Tisomboon // Shutterstock

#10. Lauderdale, Minnesota

– Population: 2,479
– Median home value: $235,500 (50% own)
– Median rent: $1,220 (50% rent)
– Median household income: $68,313

Lauderdale, Minnesota, five miles from Minneapolis, offers residents a mix of urban and suburban living with its combination of shopping districts and residential neighborhoods. The town was named after businessman William Henry Lauderdale, who purchased and donated the land that became the site of the town’s first school and park.

Alliman Center on Hesston College campus.

JonHarder // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Hesston, Kansas

– Population: 3,823
– Median home value: $147,300 (55% own)
– Median rent: $658 (45% rent)
– Median household income: $57,370

Hesston, Kansas, is a tightly knit community located 30 miles from Wichita. The town regularly involves residents in cleanup and other initiatives to preserve its scenic environment, which includes expansive fields, parks, and a golf course. The town is also home to two large farm equipment manufacturing plants.

Mariemont Inn in downtown Mariemont, Ohio.

Greg Hume // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Mariemont, Ohio

– Population: 3,497
– Median home value: $407,800 (70% own)
– Median rent: $1,192 (30% rent)
– Median household income: $120,281

Much of Mariemont, Ohio, is built in classic English architectural styles, ranging from the Norman to the Georgian. The village square is designed in Tudor style, and the town is one of the few in America to still have a town crier. Its dedication to preserving bygone eras has earned the town a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

A front entrance of a home with a blue door, yellow siding, and a flowerpot.

David Papazian // Shutterstock

#7. Oakland, Missouri

– Population: 1,473
– Median home value: $343,400 (79% own)
– Median rent: $1,234 (21% rent)
– Median household income: $106,597

Oakland, Missouri, may have a total area of just 0.61 square miles, but it wastes no space—the town contains three city parks and plenty of shops and restaurants. The community prides itself on the variety of architecture found within the city limits, which includes everything from arts-and-crafts-style cottages to modern homes.

Welcome door mat outside of yellow front door.

Appz Dreamer // Shutterstock

#6. Rock Hill, Missouri

– Population: 4,728
– Median home value: $212,000 (84% own)
– Median rent: $1,122 (16% rent)
– Median household income: $78,529

Rock Hill, Missouri, is a suburb of St. Louis. It is a lovely mix of commercial and residential properties. The 1841 Greek Revival Fairfax House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chicago suburbs, after sunset, overlooking downtown.

Kamil Zelezik // Shutterstock

#5. Bannockburn, Illinois

– Population: 1,315
– Median home value: $987,500 (84% own)
– Median rent: $1,075 (16% rent)
– Median household income: $147,500

Bannockburn, Illinois, was developed by a Scottish real estate developer who planned a number of country estates for residents to live on in the early 20th century. The town was originally planned to be purely residential, but today has a mix of business and residential buildings, affording residents a peaceful place to live while also giving them easy access to goods and services.

Front porch of house with white rocking chairs on wooden deck.

Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#4. Sixteen Mile Stand, Ohio

– Population: 3,589
– Median home value: $479,800 (56% own)
– Median rent: $1,384 (44% rent)
– Median household income: $109,142

Sixteen Mile Stand, Ohio, was originally a stagecoach stop 16 miles from Cincinnati. Today, an extensive park system offers residents plenty of green space, and lots of local sports opportunities. Trails built around the city also allow hikers to get moving any time they like.

Kohler Company Main Office.

Asher Heimermann // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Kohler, Wisconsin

– Population: 2,072
– Median home value: $284,000 (91% own)
– Median rent: $1,208 (9% rent)
– Median household income: $111,563

Kohler, Wisconsin, was founded in the early 20th century as a company town for the Kohler Company, best known for its plumbing equipment. Kohler is still the largest employer in the town and abides by the standards set by its founder to create and maintain a hybrid garden-industrial town with charm and character.

Plaza Frontenac.

LittleT889 // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Frontenac, Missouri

– Population: 3,614
– Median home value: $757,700 (98% own)
– Median rent: $1,707 (2% rent)
– Median household income: $200,625

Frontenac, Missouri, is an elegant town just west of St. Louis. It is mixed commercial and residential, with Plaza Frontenac, a luxurious historic shopping mall, sitting in its center. Numerous homes in the town were built in the mid-19th century.

Front porch and swing.

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#1. Ottawa Hills, Ohio

– Population: 4,762
– Median home value: $297,700 (86% own)
– Median rent: $1,580 (14% rent)
– Median household income: $165,938

When the hit film “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” premiered in 1948, the studio built a replica house right in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, as a promotion for the movie. The town was the perfect idyllic setting for a replica house, which is now a family home.

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