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Newton ranked 4th best place to live by Money Magazine

It may not rival Carmel, Ind., but Newton grabbed fourth place in Money Magazine’s 2012 rankings of the best places to live in America.

Educational opportunities and community activities put “The Garden City” into the top ­echelon of the list, released Monday, which rated 100 small cities based on criteria such as job growth, family income, test scores, crime rates, health care, and housing prices.

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Third place went to Eden Prairie, Minn.; second place to McKinney, Texas; and first to ­Carmel, which was described as a “formerly sleepy burb” near Indianapolis that has “since transformed itself into the ideal place to work and play.”

Newton, on the other hand, has a more bookish draw. “You might think folks in Newton are obsessed with education,” the magazine states, citing the city’s neighborhood elementary schools and partnerships with MIT and ­Boston College.

“It’s true, we are obsessed with education,” said Greg Reibman, president of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce. He said that the city and its 13 villages are also passionate about their parks, retail stores, and Crystal Lake, which Money listed as one of Newton’s highlights, though it closed early this season due to blue-green algae.

Mayor Setti Warren said the honor was ­“tremendous.”

“Education is the bedrock of our community,” he said. That and the city’s rich culture, lively commerce, and reputation as one of the safest communities in the country make it unique, he said.

The only downfall, according to Money, is Newton’s high housing prices. The city ranked 12th in the magazine’s pricey home list, with a median home sale price of $650,000 for last year.

Tean Wong of Centre Realty Group said that the city offers the “best of both worlds,” since residents can rent if buying is not an option.

Kerri Martina moved to Newton from California in April 2011, and though she thought people seemed a little grumpy during the winter, they cheered up as the weather warmed. “We spend week after week in the swim classes at Gath Pool,” she said Monday while watching her two daughters at Albemarle Park.

Newton is a very safe place to live, and the schools are great, said Tammy Coleman, who is black. “It could be more ­diverse, but it’s more diverse than when I moved here eight years ago.”

Three other Massachusetts communities made this year’s top 100 list: Brookline was 31st, Framingham was 38th, and Weymouth was 87th.

Deirdre Fernandes of the Globe
staff contributed to this report.
Laura E. Franzini can be
reached at laura.franzini@
globe.com.
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