45. Central Pasco, Fla.

161409_BPL_Top50_45CentralPasco
Courtesy of the Town of Central Pasco
AT A GLANCE
Population 131,248
Median Home Price $185,276
Property Tax $2,411
Unemployment rate 5.2%
Commute time 32 minutes

If you like spending time outside, then you’ll love Central Pasco. Situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Central Pasco is made up of several smaller communities and considered the gateway to Tampa, some 25 miles south. Dozens of lakes dot the landscape, while white-sand beaches are only about 30 miles west. And a network of parks and nature preserves help residents make the most of the area’s warm weather. The 113-acre Crews Lake Wilderness Park, for example, offers playgrounds, an amphitheater, bike paths, and a 7½-inch gauge riding railroad.

Jobs are also abundant. The Tampa Bay area is headquarters for firms such as Raymond James, a financial advisory group, the HSN shopping network, and Tech Data Corp., a distributor of tech products and services. More businesses are moving into the area, too. In July, Tampa was ranked first among metro areas in Florida for job demand.

Residents also enjoy low living expenses (median home price: $185,000) and excellent schools. Central Pasco’s school system, with 67,000 students, takes advantage of its proximity to high-tech jobs. The Aerospace Career Academy at Sunlake High School, for example, helps students get work experience in fields such as aviation, space and engineering.

Just one thing to bear in mind: Pasco County, which encompasses Central Pasco, is considered the naturist (i.e., nudist) capital of the U.S. There are more clothing-optional resorts in Land O’ Lakes, a community in Central Pasco, than anywhere in the country, according to the local chamber of commerce. No other place on our list can claim that!

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