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I live in the 8th best town in America! (Rockville, MD)

Forbes just released “America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well” and my little town of Rockville, MD made the list again, coming in at #8. While I never thought I would live in Maryland, much less tell you where Rockville was, I’ve come to appreciate the proximity to local and area shopping, events and employment.

I used to actually work in #3 Fairfax, VA (where my wife still works), but I would say Rockville is more accessible to DC and Northern Virginia given its 3-4 metro stations (depending on if you count Grosvenor), I-270, I-495 and Wisconsin Ave/Rockville Pike. And Rockville has enough that you don’t even need to leave the town to find any of a slew of international cuisines, malls, numerous grocers (including Whole Foods, My Organic Market, etc.), movies, free concerts, etc. I’ve even found a job in Rockville for 7 months, but in my field, most of the jobs are in DC or VA. And the funny thing I always say is it’s easier and faster to get to parts of Virginia from Maryland than if we lived in Virginia!

Here’s the top 10 in the list:

10. Foster City, California
9. Coral Gables, Florida
8. Rockville, Maryland
7. Columbia, Maryland
6. Newton, Massachusetts
5. Cupertino, California
4. Mountain View, California
3. Fairfax, Virginia
2. Doral, Florida
1. Boulder, Colorado

And here’s the snapshot about Rockville from the detailed list:

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Hmmm…are there any cities in Maryland NOT on the list?

    6 of the top 25 including 2 in the top 10. I’m calling shenanigans.

  • Rockville? Ugh, if you want to deal with traffic every single day. I used to work there AND went to the University of Maryland, so I know the area.

    If I were to live in that area I think I would choose Bethesda or Chevy Chase. Maybe Kensington. Or Silver Spring. Not Rockville, though..

    BUT that has to be good for real estate values 🙂

  • @MLR, funny because every one of those towns you named has MUCH worse traffic than Rockville, at least from my perspective. The only consistent, heavy traffic is a 2 mile stretch of the Pike.

    And you want to talk about bad traffic, try going ANYWHERE in Fairfax!

  • Interesting, the only one of these I’ve been to is Boulder…. which I really liked, but now I’m feeling down knowing that the others are “less” of a best place to live than Boulder supposedly is. Boulder *rocks*:), but there are still definite drawbacks. I wonder what I’d think of the Maryland towns. Great recommendations!

  • I’ll be moving to Gburg, MD in this June for a job in Washington DC. My friend has a vacant room in his house and I’ll be taking it. I do agree that Rockville is very sweet suburb to DC but the cost of house is too high. I’d love to have my own house in either Gburg, Rockville or Bethesda. Would you rather have a house in VA or MD? Which state has better tax advantage when it comes to mortgage?

  • @Josh, welcome to the area! Both areas have pros/cons. MD seems to be higher for employment taxes, but doesn’t require a yearly vehicle safety inspection (you’ll need one when you first register your car in the state though). However, Virginia has a “personal property tax” on cars which could amount to hundreds extra every year. I had a $28,000 car when I lived in VA for 2 years and paid $600 in tax each year.

    Another bonus of living in Rockville vs Northern Virginia is the number of metro stations to get to DC (see The Orange line (VA) is packed during rush hour and good luck finding parking at Vienna! I can always find a seat on the Red Line (the west side of the line).

    If you’re young and like the night life, though, I would look into the Ballston or Clarendon areas of Virginia. That’s one place I’ll refer my younger friends and coworkers, and they’ve all loved the areas. Good luck!

  • Yay for the DC Metro area. I used to live in Fairfax and now live in Arlington – I wonder why my neighborhood didn’t make the list? It got rated the best place to ride out the recession by Business Week… (okay I can’t find the link, but I think it was BW)

  • I have lived in Arlington, VA for 24 years and love it. Personal property tax on my 1994 Geo Prism is zero, although I get to pay $24 for a tax sticker showing I am in compliance with the requirement! If you have a fairly new or high value car, then you will get dinged by the tax.

  • Clever Dude —

    Not from my experience. 270 is the worst. And the 270/495 junction is blah. The locations I mentioned were mainly due to their locations on the metro, though. Closer to the city, so easier if you want to go to one of the ‘burbs of another line.

    One thing Rockville has going for it is Cici’s. A must for any college aged kid :p

    Oh, the good old days.

  • Yeah! I love Rockville. I grew up in Arlington and, although the proximity and commute to DC is quicker (via metro) from there, the housing prices along the Orange line are crazy. Rockville is family friendly, has everything you need and is metro accessible to the city. The number of parks here are amazing! Let’s hope our housing prices start to reflect this rating. 🙂

  • I’ve never been to Rockville, MD so I don’t know about the area specifically, but I do know that there’s not a lot of entry level type jobs in any of these areas. I’m still in the process of finishing my degree, so my best option is to stay put for now, but there were several places on the list I’d like to live. Once I have my degree, I’ll have more options to move to these places looking for professionals.

    I’m a little surprised that the only one on the list for Texas was Sugarland. It’s a pretty expensive town to live in and there’s not a whole lot there to do. Most people travel to Houston for dinner and entertainment, etc. I would have thought something in the Ft. Worth area would have made the list. Of course, I don’t know much about the way they rank these cities; however, Texas has a lower cost of living in general than most of the places on this list. Definitely think there are some nice places to live in Texas…but I’m a little biased living in Austin, hehe.

  • YEAH Maryland! What up NoVa? (Yeah, i see your Fairfax in there – which i happen to love actually – but that’s it? awww…)

    That’s really a shout out for all my VA boys. i don’t have beef w/ that state as i’ve lived there longer than MD, but it’s still fun to poke at ’em 😉

  • Beautiful area, but what’s up with all the traffic, Dude? I was in Silver Springs in late Feb and the traffic jams were epic — I never saw anything like it, and that’s coming from somebody who lives in Southern California!

    As long as you don’t have to drive, I love it. DC does have the best Metro in the US!

    My $0.02 (after taxes)


  • i got the Forbes, but what about traffic, if, for example, U should go, how fast you can get anywhere, I think it will take time. Sure, its nice to live there if you dont need to go anywhere in the morning

  • 10. Foster City, California – Only good if you only want to go other places on the Penninsula or if you like flying out of SFO and OAK a lot. Right off of 92, but definitely not as nice as Rockville if you ask me. One day, it’s going to flood in a massive earthquake generated tsunami. And why isn’t there enough parking in the damn shopping malls there? Or 24-hour places to do anything?

    9. Coral Gables, Florida – Only went drinking there once during Spring Break. Seems pretty if you like FL, which I don’t.

    8. Rockville, Maryland – Bland and you still need a car to get everywhere. It takes forever to drive up and down 270. EEW. One bonus is that all the good Chinese food in DC is pretty much in Rockville.

    7. Columbia, Maryland – 1st bland planned community. You MUST have a car to get around there and what’s with all the male trees making allergy season hell on earth? BORING. Drinking in Columbia means on your deck at a BBQ rather than somewhere fun and interesting. Nottingham’s? phbththtp!

    6. Newton, Massachusetts – Like Fig Newton?

    5. Cupertino, California – YUCK. Worse than Foster City and further away from San Francisco. Only good thing about it is the proximity to the SJ Sharks venue, i.e. if you live or work there, you can conceivably go to an NHL game.

    4. Mountain View, California – AWESOME AWESOME. Live near the CalTrain and you can go to SF any time for a fun evening out. Very bikeable town. So nice! Stone’s throw from Palo Alto and Stanford.

    3. Fairfax, Virginia – Hellish traffic on 66 and 7100. Good pay if you work in Federal IT consulting. Nice schools nearly everywhere in the district. But again, you absolutely must have a car to live out there and generally costs too much for housing.

    2. Doral, Florida – no direct experience
    1. Boulder, Colorado – no direct experience, but my hippie granola lesbian ex-DC friends love it there. I aim to check out the skiing one day.

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