Best Places 2014

Best Places to Live 2014: Starting Out

Didn’t snap up a home during the recession, when mortgage rates were in the threes? Don’t despair: They’re still historically low, at less than 5 percent. If you’re tired of brokering fridge space with a persnickety roommate, it’s time to get in the game.

Best Places to Live 2014: Power Couple

Ever the intriguing paradox, you crave a swanky refuge close to the action, yet also long for a respite from the social whirl. These areas offer regal, entertaining-friendly abodes with proximity to shopping and dining—while still managing to feel a world away.

Best Places to Live 2014: Moving Up

Considering kiddos but fear sharing office space with a changing table? Longing for a bigger lawn to mow, a spacious en suite, and maybe even a two-car garage? If so, it’s time to trade up. These towns provide solid value, a strong community vibe, and good schools. (The commute’s not bad, either.)

Best Places to Live 2014: Growing Family

The kids need a dedicated playroom. You need a big kitchen—and you’ve earned that master suite with the fireplace and walk-in closet. These towns offer sizable lots, superb services, and unique architecture.

Empty Nester

At long last, liberty! You’ve shed that pesky job, your final freeloader has been kicked to the curb, and time is yours to savor. Schools aren’t a factor and commute time doesn’t matter, but a waterfront view sure would be nice.

How to Win a Bidding War

Experts say brutal buyer-on-buyer combat is the exception, not the rule. But just in case, we asked mortgage broker Kevin Kuechler how to play to win—at every stage of the game.

Embracing Your Plan B

Mick Jagger said it best: You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes your dream home in a dream town won’t materialize, making a secondary plan essential. Keep your pulse on these up-and-coming places, all of which offer the highlights of the area’s buzziest towns—without the steep markup.