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No. 10: Provo, Utah

Driving along the stretch of I-15 between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, you can’t help but wonder if locals take the scenery for granted.

by Cindy Schwalb, kiplinger.com

PRISTINE SOFTWARE MECCA

Population: 474,351Population Growth Since 2000: 20.6%Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 32%Cost-of-Living Index: 97.7 (100 being national average)Median Household Income: $50,583Income Growth Since 2000: 12.2%

Take Our Walking Tour Through Provo

The Provo area has grown into the country’s second-largest software center, featuring top employers Novell, Micron Technology and Omniture. The vibrant business scene is stoked by workers—among them recent graduates of Brigham Young University’s nationally ranked business school—attracted to the low cost of living and year-round outdoor lifestyle.

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Residents can hit the slopes or hiking trails, or cast a fishing line within 30 minutes of stepping out their front door. Or they can wonder at the miles of snow-capped Wasatch Mountains.

Nearly all of Provo’s homes boast a mountain view, and family-friendly neighborhoods are safe environments in which to raise kids. Veteran real estate agent Brent DeMille says: "Of all the people I’ve placed, only one couple told me they were unhappy. They wanted more nightlife."

The promise of high-speed rail (due in Provo in 2012) will make Salt Lake City nightlife a quick ride away. Also, much of the development in the area is in towns such as Draper and Lehi, suburbs near Salt Lake County’s border. So those places will have the advantages of affordable housing, quick access to both Provo and Salt Lake City, and, of course, the area’s spectacular outdoor living.

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