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How much is your home worth now? Click here to download our exclusive chart that shows home sales in more than 200 Delaware neighborhoods from 2006 through 2010.

Let’s start with the assumption that we all love where we live. We may therefore have a fierce pride of place. We may all think we live in the best place in Delaware.

But do we?

If you rated your town on the taxes you pay, the value of homes in the neighborhood, the quality of the school district and the amount of time you spend commuting, what would be revealed? We decided to do the math.

Here’s a look at how 35 of our towns rate. Areas were ranked 1 through 35 for safety (1), property tax rates (2), median home prices (3) (higher is better), quality of school districts (4) and commuting times. (5) More subjective is the proximity to, and quality of, cultural offerings, shopping and dining, and nightlife (each ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, five being best). Weights were assigned to the criteria according to an in-house survey. The percentages are:

School district…………………..21.3
Median home price………….. 15.9
Property taxes………………….14.2
Safety………………………………13.1
Commuting time………………  12.1
Arts and culture………………….9.2
Shopping and dining…………  8.6
Nightlife…………………………….5.6

Everything was calculated accordingly for a total score.
Herein, the results, from the best places on down. Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story, so read on. You’ll see in-depth profiles of some of the best places, some of those that ranked low, and some in the middle. You may be surprised.
 

If you want to know more, please visit delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/Neighborhoods/ for information about average house size and prices, local income levels, utility costs and more.


(1) From a ranking of personal and property crimes at Sperling’s Best Places.

(2) 2010 rates are presented as a percentage of assessed value. Rates within the city of Wilmington vary. The figure presented is an average.

(3) From sales information at Sperling’s Best Places.

(4) Based on Delaware Today’s ranking of public high schools in January.

(5) From average commute times, in minutes, at Sperling’s Best Places.

Page 2: How They Rate

 

How They Rate

1 Lewes
Safety 7
Property tax: 3.77 24
Median home: $510,000 34
Cape Henlopen 2
Commute time: 26 20
Shopping-Dining 5
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 3
Fifteen years of immigrants from Washington, D.C., and other metro areas drove property values to all-time highs, and even since the bubble burst, they remain far greater than they were pre-boom. Why? Who wouldn’t want to live here? Quaint homes, an appreciation of history, beautiful Cape Henlopen State Park, Beebe Medical Center, enough longtime residents to maintain a real small-town vibe, an active Little League that plays on prime canal-front property, great shopping and dining along Second Street, and excellent schools. Enough said.

2 Dover
Safety 24
Property tax: 1.94 1
Median home: $173,000 15
SD: Caesar Rodney and Capital 8
Commute time: 21 5
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 5
Nightlife 3
Dover has it all: housing from stately Victorians downtown to new communities of modern homes on its fringes, large employers, good public schools, four colleges and universities, scenic Silver Lake, excellent Kent General Hospital, top-notch museums, the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, and myriad dining and shopping options, including the Colonnade at Dover Downs. And did you notice the tax rate?
 

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Sam and Lisa Hobbs relax in the upstairs tasting room at Twin Lakes Brewery. Sam says the Greenville area is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Photograph by Jared Castaldi3 Greenville-Centreville
Safety 1
Property tax: 2.54 8
Median home: $509,000 33
SD: Red Clay 14
Commute time: 23.2 9
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 5
Nightlife 2

Toast of the Town

Twin Lakes Farm doesn’t have the awe-inspiring allure of Winterthur’s mansion or the dramatic landscapes of Valley Garden Park. It doesn’t even have a sign along Scenic Route Del. 52. But it does have something that sets it apart from the rest of the landmarks in Greenville. It has Sam Hobbs.

Growing up on 252 acres of lush land that has been in his family seven generations, Hobbs quickly grew to appreciate the area his family has called home for so long.
“Anyone who lives in Greenville is very, very fortunate,” he says. “To live in this community is to be a part of it.”

Like his mother, Patty Hobbs, who founded Citizens For Responsible Growth, and his uncle, who founded the Brandywine Conservancy, Sam believes that being a part of a community also means you should help preserve it.

“I’ve been all over, and I can honestly say that this is one of the most beautiful places in America,” he says. “You can drive from Wilmington and five minutes later you’re in the country. There is nothing better than walking down the Brandywine on a cool fall day.”

This is still the area code many aspire to live in: beautiful homes and ample space, convenient shopping and dining in Greenville Place I and II and Powder Mill Square, an upscale retirement community in Stonegates, a straight shot into Wilmington and major cultural institutions such as Winterthur, Mt. Cuba and the Delaware Museum of Natural History. A.I. duPont remains one of the best public high schools, though you’ll probably choose a top-notch private like Tatnall.
 

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Hobbs’ farm, established in 1826, regularly throws events for nonprofits and hosts ice-skating sessions on the frozen lakes. Five years ago Hobbs took his family’s community engagement one step further by establishing Twin Lakes Brewing Company with the goal of using fresh, local ingredients to create a local craft beer that was big on flavor, but little on waste.

In using local ingredients and focusing distribution at local restaurants like Buckley’s Tavern, Pizza by Elizabeths and, BBC Tavern, Hobbs has been at the front of the localvore movement. He also hopes to be at the head of another movement: putting the green back in Greenville.

“We want to be the first town in the state that is all green,” Hobbs says.
The recent installation of solar panels at the brewery is a strong start in Hobbs’ quest, yet the real goal will be to enact legislation such as lowering speed limits to 35 mph, which would enable smaller electric cars to travel the roads.

“It is very important for us to give back to the community and protect it for future generations,” Hobbs says. “There really is no place like it.” —Bob Thurlow

Odessans such as Debbie Buckson, who heads The Historic Odessa Foundation, take great pride in the town’s history. Photograph by Jared Castaldi4 Odessa
Safety 2
Property tax: 2.18 4
Median home: $238,000 24
SD: Appoquinimink 1
Commute time: 34 33
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 4
Nightlife 1

Beyond Booming Middletown

Middletown claims the spotlight in the MOT triumvirate, but the smaller, quainter satellite towns of Odessa and Townsend have their unique charms.

Ask Odessans their greatest source of pride and you’ll get a common answer: the town’s history. Colonial-era mansions and pristine Federal architecture unite residents in the name of preservation. The Historic Houses of Odessa score big on the culture scale.

The tricky part, until now, was managing growth within the historic district’s design and architecture guidelines.
 

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“The town itself is a little gem that stands still in time,” says Mayor Kathy Harvey. “You could imagine today standing in the middle of Main Street, and it’s the same streetscape as it would’ve been 200 years ago.”

Forty acres of land were recently annexed for residential development that blends the town’s signature Federal architecture into new construction, which is aimed at both young families moving to the area and locals moving from bigger, older homes.

History is simply part of the fabric of Odessa. Residents take advantage of great programs for kids at the Corbit-Calloway Library, the oldest in the state. And The Historic Odessa Foundation, headed by Debbie Buckson, is excited about the progress of Cantwell’s Tavern, a 19th century-style tavern operated by restaurateur K.C. Kulp.

Those who live in Odessa praise its walkability and its tightly knit community. “It’s just very friendly,” Harvey says. “People walk everywhere—to the post office, to Odessa Memorial Park. I think that’s what people most enjoy about Odessa.”

Odessa’s central corridor is Main Street, with an east side dedicated to residential buildings and a west side that is mostly commercial. Post-WWII homes in neighborhoods like Odessa Heights hover on the town’s outskirts.

Councilwoman Sandra Sturgis moved to Townsend for the excellent Appoquinimink School District and stately Victorian homes. She quickly fell for the small-town vibe. “It wasn’t quite Mayberry, but not that far off,” she says with a laugh. “People know their neighbors, the kids say ‘ma’am’ and ‘thank you,’ and I don’t worry about locking my doors.”

The town council works to cultivate family-friendly activities townwide, such as Easter egg hunts at the new town park and costume contests at the fire hall.  —Matt Amis

 

5 North Wilmington
Safety 9
Property tax: 3.96 26
Median home: $290,000 27
SD: Brandywine 4
Commute time: 23.2 12
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 4
Nightlife 2
This is what a good portion of New Castle County residents call home, and for good reason: ample housing, very good schools, parks galore, and lots of great dining and shopping. It may be spread out along Philly and Concord pikes and Naamans Road, but there’s plenty to choose from. Add points for landmarks such as Rockwood Museum and Bellevue State Park.
 

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6 Middletown
Safety 11
Property tax: 2.17 3
Median home: $194,000 20
SD: Appoquinimink 1
Commute time: 34.7 34
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 2
Though U.S. 301 is cluttered with discount motels and strip malls, the intersection of Broad and Main remains Middletown’s core, home to both the Gibby Center and Premier Center for the Arts. Elegant Victorians line South Broad Street, and Cass Street ranks among the state’s prettiest. The big draw for a town packed with young families, however, is the best public eduction in the state.

7 Rehoboth Beach
Safety 35
Property tax: 4.82 29
Median home: $582,000 35
SD: Cape Henlopen 2
Commute time: 20.7 4
Shopping-Dining 5
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 5
You live here because you like the laid back winters and pleasantly bustling summers, because you like a walkable town, because you like great dining, the blend of old and new architecture, the closeness of established locals, a vibe that is both hip and family oriented, and, of course, the ocean.

8 Claymont
Safety 11
Property tax: 2.67 12
Median home: $202,000 22
SD: Brandywine 4
Commute time: 25.9 19
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 2
Claymont is all about family. It has excellent public and private schools, convenient services on Philadelphia Pike, easy access to transportation routes and employment centers, a short drive to Philadelphia and its airport, and a real—if slow—renassiance on the old site of Brookview. The new Darley Green promises more than 1,200 units of mixed housing with some retail.
 

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9 Fenwick Island
Safety 2
Property tax: 5.20 33
Median home: $350,000 29
Indian River 3
Commute time: 23.3 12
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 2
Nightlife 2
There’s a water view almost everywhere, which makes great siting for homes, but come fall, a good portion of the population disappears till spring. All is not lost: The better restaurants stay open year round.

10 Dewey Beach
Safety 7
Property tax: 3.68 23
Median home: $402,000 31
Cape Henlopen 2
Commute time: 30.9 32
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 5
Call everything on Coastal Highway the downtown, and watch it hum on summer weekends. Business owners have a high degree of influence on local affairs, but home ownership remains Dewey’s No. 1 industry.

11 Bethany Beach
Safety 25
Property tax: 3.45 20
Median home: $335,000 28
SD: Indian River 3
Commute time: 27 23
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 2
Nightlife 2
Bethany Beach rates for having a great downtown for half of the year. The colder months find many businesses shuttered. It wins charm points for old beach houses and a lively vibe in summer, when businesses on Garfield Parkway hum and the small boardwalk fills like a promenade. Easy driving into Ocean View brings the town closer to true year-round viability. Indian River schools rank high.
 

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12 Townsend
Safety 2
Property tax: 2.26 5
Median home: $172,000 14
SD: Appoquinimink 1
Commute time: 37.7 35
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
There are big plans in the works for tiny Townsend. Its main crossroads will soon be joined by two new neighborhoods and some retail space.

13 Wyoming
Safety 9
Property tax: 2.74 14
Median home: $189,000 19
SD: Caesar Rodney 6
Commute time: 20.2 2
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
Like nearby Camden, it’s neighborly. Friends meet at Hall’s Family Restaurant. Dover is a skip away. Celebrations such as the strawberry and peach festivals at Fifer Orchards keep the vibe lively at times.

14 Newark
Safety 20
Property tax: 2.70 13
Median home: $243,000 25
SD: Christina 15
Commute time: 23.5 15
Shopping-Dining 5
Arts-Culture 5
Nightlife 5
Take your pick of home styles and neighborhoods. Take your pick of good restaurants on Main Street. Take your pick of community celebrations such as Newark Night and Trick or Treat Main Street. Take your pick of parks. Take your pick of readings, lectures, seminars, plays and concerts at UD. And if all this weren’t good enough, new enterprises such as the technology park planned for the old Chrysler factory are sure to boost the local economy.
 

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Ron and Ellen Sayers with their son, Tom Sayers. Photograph by Jared Castaldi15 Smyrna
Safety 18
Property tax: 1.95 2
Median home: $173,000 15
SD: Smyrna 7
Commute time: 28.4 28
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 2
Nightlife 3

As It Changes, It Remains the Same

To Ellen Sayers, moving to Smyrna after fifth grade was a huge change. “I was raised in Leipsic, which had a one-room schoolhouse and one teacher for five grades,” she says. “Moving to Smyrna was almost overwhelming.”

Few will confuse Smyrna with the big city, but the town has made colossal strides, especially in recent years, as the population has swelled to more than 12,000 people (double the 2000 census figure).

To longtime residents like Sayers, the beauty of Smyrna is its small-town details. It’s the holiday lights in every tree along Main Street and the way faithfully restored Victorian-era homes lend an elegance to the old-fashioned downtown. It’s the cooperative spirit shared by residents, business owners and town leaders that has kept families like the Sayerses and the Faries family, which operate Faries Funeral Home, in town for years.

“It’s almost like a family,” Sayers says. “The community jumps right in when you need them.”

There are many reasons for community unity. Consider sold-out performances by the Brandywine Celtic Harp Orchestra at the Smyrna Opera House, or I Love the Smyrna School District Day, which attracts no fewer than 5,000 people to Smyrna High School each February. Then there are the Friends of Belmont Hall and people like Susan Wolfe, who organize public events at the restored mansion.
 

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But with scores of new residents come new needs. Though much of Smyrna’s interior hasn’t changed much during its growth, apart from cosmetic updates, new residents have altered the perimeter of town, where upscale developments like Lake Como Woods and single-family driven Sunnyside Village have expanded.

New businesses and restaurants have appeared, too. The Smyrna Health & Wellness Center opened in 2007. Mayor Patricia Stombaugh reports that a Bayhealth emergency center is in the works. And Delaware Technical and Community College officials have approached town leaders about opening a Smyrna campus.

Despite its proximity to U.S. 13 and its commercial strip, Smyrna’s outdoor beauty and its slowed-down pace has forever been a main attraction. Kayaking on Lake Como or exploring the timbered marshes of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge reveal the joys of living in Smyrna, to transplants or otherwise. —Matt Amis

 

16 South Bethany
Safety 2
Property tax: 4.58 28
Median home: $418,000 32
SD: Indian River 3
Commute time: 29.2 31
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
As in Fenwick, almost every property owner has a water view, but you’ll find your downtown in Bethany. There are great schools for the kids—but there aren’t many kids in town during the academic year. Make your play dates with friends elsewhere.

17 Selbyville
Safety 17
Property tax: 5.13 32
Median home: $196,000 21
SD: Indian River 3
Commute time: 20.3 3
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
New subdivisions on the edges are changing the tenor of Selbyville. New folks come for proximity to the beaches (at far lower prices) and excellent Indian River schools.
 

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18 Camden
Safety 31
Property tax: 2.84 15
Median home: $182,000 18
SD: Caesar Rodney 6
Commute time: 19.9 1
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
The vibe is countryish and small town, and residents care about keeping it that way. Major employers are in Dover, just a short drive down U.S. 13, or New Burton Road.

M.J. and Mike Ostinato and their cat Max instantly fell in love with Milton. Photograph by Jared Castaldi19 Milton
Safety 27
Property tax: 3.46 21
Median home: $175,000 17
SD: Cape Henlopen 2
Commute time: 26.9 22
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 2

Small-Town Perfection

Don and Pat Post love the feel of Milton. “We enjoy its charm and quaintness,” says Don, a former mayor. They love the mature trees and views outside their bungalow-style home, which backs up to the Broadkill Preserve. And “we love the beauty of the Broadkill River and how that river runs through the center of town.”

Milton residents are a clever bunch. They enjoy being close to the beach towns, yet avoid the beach town hassles. “We’re just four miles from Broadkill Beach and about a 20-minute drive to Delaware beaches,” says Post. “We’re just far enough away.”

With an abundance of new, reasonably priced townhome communities and subdivisions that feature homes with first-floor master suites, Milton is a great place to retire. But with its proximity to Cape Henlopen district schools, it’s also a wonderful place to raise a family.
 

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Milton is also a veritable home show, with an artful mix of beautifully preserved homes from several eras—Victorian, Gothic, Federal and Colonial.

M.J. and Mike Ostinato’s farmhouse was built in 1874. The couple moved from a large suburban area in Pennsylvania, hoping to live in Lewes. But real estate there was a bit pricey. The couple drove through Milton and “instantly fell in love with it,” says M.J. “It reminded me of my parents’ small town in Northern Virginia.”

The Ostinatos were welcomed into the historic district’s close-knit community. “People in town quickly knew our names, and we started getting invited to parties,” says Ostinato. “Soon enough we were volunteering for the Milton Historical Society and the Milton Theatre.”

Community is a big part of life. There are garden and home tours and annual events such as the Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival in May, and Bargains on the Broadkill in the fall.

If it sounds like historic Milton is one big Rockwellesque creation, it is, but with an important twist. “There’s an interesting mix of people here,” says Ostinato. “Some have lived here forever, some are from New Jersey or Washington, D.C., and some lead alternative lifestyles.”

New subdivisions include Heritage Creek by Schell Brothers, The Cannery Village by Capstone Homes and Chestnut Crossing by Atlantic Homes, one of Delaware’s premier green builders.

“This is a great time to buy in Milton, since home prices have been reduced,” says Post. “The recession hasn’t helped builders, but it’s certainly helped potential residents. And the folks in Milton welcome new neighbors.” —Maria Hess

 

The Allens (from left), Kim, Bill and Brittney,  love the sense of community in Hockessin. 20 Hockessin
Safety 11
Property tax: 2.54 8
Median home: $366,000 30
SD: Red Clay 14
Commute time: 28.7 29
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 2

Home, Sweet Home

When Kim Allen moved from Buffalo, New York, to Hockessin 19 years ago, she wasn’t sure the First State was the place for her. Having grown up in Greenwich Village, Allen was accustomed to a fast pace and a stream of strangers. For her husband, Bill, who had grown up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the change was just as tricky.

The couple’s uncertainty was tempered by Kim’s eagerness to establish ties with community groups. So when she received an invite to a basketball tournament fundraiser, she was hooked. Not only would it let her return to what she loved, but it allowed her to meet others in her community—a win-win.
 

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Her only question: Who would she meet?

Then she saw the guest list, which included the chief of police, the mayor of Wilmington, Tom Carper and Joe Biden.

“I was shocked,” she says. “I would never have been able to meet all these officials in one place if I were still in New York.”

Almost two decades later, Allen remains amazed by how welcoming and open her community is. Nestled in the rolling Red Clay Valley, Hockessin offers Victorian and Colonial houses scattered among former farmhouses and newer housing developments. Add chic restaurants, boutiques and community centers that have sprung up around Lancaster Pike. “It still has that hometown feeling that you would want in a community,” she says. “Because of the intimacy, you get to know everyone on a first-name basis.”

For the Allens, Hockessin is in a perfect location: right between Kim’s family in New York and Bill’s in Virginia. Kim can easily drive to the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, make a quick trip to a museum in Philadelphia or commute to the numerous schools that A Friend of the Family, her nonprofit organization, works with.

Just before the Allens’ daughter Brittney completed her studies at Spelman College, the Allens briefly considered downsizing to a fancy new condo on the Wilmington Riverfront—but they weren’t able to follow through. The community and family ties to Hockessin were simply too strong.

“People who live here have such a commitment,” she says. “When you live somewhere, you want everyone to have a common goal and real sense. Hockessin has a real sense of community.” —Bob Thurlow

 

21 Georgetown
Safety 31
Property tax: 6.21 35
Median home: $157,000 8
SD: Indian River 3
Commute time: 22.6 7
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 4
Nightlife 1
This Colonial town oozes charm. Big Victorians tower over West Market Street, and The Circle, with its historic courthouse and the popular Brick Hotel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sussex County seat is also one of the most ethnically diverse places in the state. Return Day is one of Delaware’s oldest traditions.
 

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22 New Castle
Safety 22
Property tax: 3.00 17
Median home: $212,000 23
SD: Colonial 17
Commute time: 23.8 16
Shopping-Dining 3.5
Arts-Culture 5
Nightlife 1
In recent years, several restaurateurs have made a real go of fickle New Castle, boosting Delaware Street up a few notches as a downtown locals want to use. The old part of town oozes history, so residents may squabble at times over historic preservation ordinances, but Colonial charm is guaranteed for life. The downside: a school district in need of improvement and poor quality housing outside the historic area.

23 Pike Creek
Safety 11
Property tax: 2.54 10
Median home: $247,000 26
SD: Red Clay 14
Commute time: 28.9 30
Shopping-Dining 3.5
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 2
Pike Creek maintains a rural feel in many areas, despite the high population density, thanks to places like White Clay Creek State Park and Middle Run. Shopping and dining is conveniently concentrated in large centers. Housing runs the gamut. Watch the continuing battle for the old Three Little Bakers golf course, a centerpiece green space that some would turn into housing.

24 Millsboro
Safety 27
Property tax: 3.84 25
Median home: $152,000 7
SD: Indian River 3
Commute time: 23.2 9
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
New restaurants such as Luca and established places such as Georgia House keep the downtown lively enough. There are lovely waterfront homes on Indian River, and just outside town, beautiful golf course living at Bayside. Your children will attend No. 6-ranked Sussex Central High School.
 

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25 Wilmington
Safety 27
Property tax: 3.59 22
Median home: $145,000 5
SD: Brandywine, Christina, Colonial
and Red Clay 10
Commute time: 24.9 18
Shopping-Dining 4
Arts-Culture 5
Nightlife 4
Like any mid-sized city, it has depressed areas, but it also has neighborhoods with real esprit de corps, where entire communities organize yard sales, as in the Highlands, and progressive dinners, as in the Triangle. Even as the Riverfront ascends, Market Street sputters as an all-day, all-night destination, but investors hope to change that with the coming Live at the World Café at the renovated Queen Theatre. The city gets culture points for the Delaware Art Museum and Grand Opera House. Beware of school feeder patterns: Your child could end up in a poor performing district—or in highly rated Brandywine.

26 Bear
Safety 11
Property tax: 2.52 7
Median home: $166,000 10
SD: Christina 15
Commute time: 27.8 24
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 2
Bear may be loaded with cookie-cutter subdivisions, but that’s OK with the many families who call it home. Parts of it can still feel rural. U.S. 40 has long been as commercialized as Kirkwood Highway and Concord Pike, so though there is no downtown to speak of, there is plenty of convenience on the Pulaski strip. Just watch the drivers.

27 Leipsic
Safety 2
Property tax: 2.67 11
Median home: $121,000 1
SD: Capital 9
Commute time: 27.8 24
Shopping-Dining 1
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
Your downtown: an antiques shop and Sambo’s Tavern, which is closed for a third of the year. Leipsic is for watermen and those who appreciate its relative isolation.
 

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28 Delaware City
Safety 16
Property tax: 5.40 16
Median home: $166,000 10
SD: Colonial 17
Commute time: 27.8 24
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 1
Large refineries on the edge of town have caused Delaware City an image problem, but the town itself is a comfortable hamlet with more potential than many give it credit for. Businesses come and go on Clinton Street (Crabby Dick’s in the old hotel being an exception), but beautiful Colonial, Victorian and Craftsmen style homes abound (though they tend to stay in the family).

29 Newport
Safety 20
Property tax: 3.05 19
Median home: $162,000 9
SD: Red Clay 14
Commute time: 23.4 14
Shopping-Dining 2.5
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
Established neighborhoods and pockets of well-maintained older homes give Newport its charm. Banning Park attracts a diverse group of users. Places like James Street Tavern have even given the area a hipness.

30 Milford
Safety 34
Property tax: 4.87 30
Median home: $167,000 12
SD: Milford 12
Commute time: 22.3 6
Shopping-Dining 3.5
Arts-Culture 2
Nightlife 1
Milford boasts a beautiful riverwalk, affordable waterfront housing, proximity to recreation at Slaughter Neck, decent schools, a hospital in the heart of town, an active city rec program, good restaurants and an old-fashioned main street with stalwarts like Lou’s Bootery on Front Street. Nice.

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31 Elsmere
Safety 24
Property tax: 3.03 18
Median home: $148,000 6
SD: Red Clay 14
Commute time: 22.6 7
Shopping-Dining 3
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
This community of longtime families and iconic businesses has made room for a second generation of Latin-American immigrants. Housing is affordable. Wilmington is a stone’s throw away. And there are a few interesting, affordable restaurants, such as Kalbi Asian Bistro. A recent spurt of commercial development has spruced up Kirkwood Highway.

32 Harrington
Safety 22
Property tax: 2.26 6
Median home: $142,000 3
SD: Lake Forest 16
Commute time: 27.8 24
Shopping-Dining 1
Arts-Culture 3
Nightlife 1
Most people know Harrington only as the home of the State Fairgrounds they pass on U.S. 13, and it is, no doubt, one of the state’s most important institutions. But you need to head west of the highway to find the real charm of this old railroad town. Big news: street re-paving—which will resume once the weather breaks.

33 Bridgeville
Safety 24
Property tax: 5.99 34
Median home: $171,000 13
SD: Woodbridge 13
Commute time: 23.2 9
Shopping-Dining 2
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
As the sign says, if you lived here, you’d be home now. That may have distilled the small-town sensibility into a few words, but this is a place on its way up. Witness the rise of Heritage Shores on U.S. 113. But for now, the residents will keep the quiet interior to themselves.
 

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34 Delmar
Safety 18
Property tax: 4.33 27
Median home: $136,000 2
SD: Delmar 11
Commute time: 24.1 17
Shopping-Dining 1
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
Delmar has a sense of humor about itself. Living here puts you smack in the center of the Delmarva Peninsula. A short hop down U.S. 113 gets you to services in Salisbury, Maryland. Stormchasers, you’ll be disappointed; tornado activity her is slightly below the state average.

35 Laurel
Safety 31
Property tax: 4.99 31
Median home: $142,000 3
SD: Laurel 16
Commute time: 26.3 21
Shopping-Dining 2.5
Arts-Culture 1
Nightlife 1
Laurel has produced more governors and has a greater number of historic homes than any town in the state. You live here because you like history, tranquility and the pleasant, meandering nature of roads around Broad Creek. Or cross the water to tiny Bethel. Quiet is the town’s main attraction, as well as, like Laurel, historic homes.
 

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