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5. Austin-Round Rock, TX

Austin-Round Rockranks high on quality of life and affordability: It has at least a dozen colleges and was voted the No. 1 college town by the Travel Channel. The cost of living is 2.4 percent below the national average.

But what sets it apart is its quirk. The city has been described as a “crazy quilt,” stitching together everything from art, improv and country music to environmentalism and high tech. It’s home to the South by Southwest festival,featuring independent musicians and filmmakers and emerging technologies. Though, its quirky rep has been around awhile, spawning a new slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.”

Round Rock is its conservative counterpart, known for its outstanding education system and as the headquarters of Dell Computers.

The unemployment rate in the area is 6.5 percent, well below the U.S. average of 10.2 percent. It’s the No. 10 job market, according to Indeed.com,with two applicants for every job opening.

Companies That Are Hiring Now: Dell, Seton Family of Hospitals, Soliant Health and AT&T, according to Indeed.com.

Photo: Don Klumpp | The Image Bank | Getty Images