Buffy: Mitchell Haaseth
Brian Hiatt
February 19, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Tired of that long commute, worried about property values, or just sick of neighbors who aren’t sufficiently quirky and entertaining? Maybe it’s time to leave that merciless big city or faceless suburb behind, and head to small-town America — or more precisely, the endearing version of it you’re seeing on TV this season. To come up with EW.com’s first annual most livable small towns ranking, we talked to numerous mayors, business leaders, and local residents (oh, wait, we’re not Money magazine — so we watched some TV instead). Here’s our countdown, from worst to best.

5.) SUNNYDALE, CALIF. (”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”)
Why You’d Want to Live There For those with, um, gothic tastes, small-town life doesn’t get any better than Sunnydale. A local club, Willy’s Place, always has some rockin’ tunes playing — just watch out for some of the rougher clientele. And there’s been great news lately — all those rumors about a high mortality rate at the local high school are moot now that it’s burned to the ground. Plus, there are no fewer than 12 cemeteries in town, so you won’t have to leave — ever.
Drawback Residents mumble something about a ”Hellmouth.”

4.) SPRINGFIELD, U.S.A. (”The Simpsons”)
Why You’d Want to Live There What other small town in America has boasted a monorail, a casino, and a courthouse briefly renamed ”Municipal Fortress of Vengeance”? Springfield also offers a variety of child-care facilities, including the Ayn Rand School for Tots and Saint Sebastian’s School for Wicked Girls. Local hotspots include a joint named Moe’s Tavern, where the half-dozen regulars will be glad for any new drinking buddies.
Drawbacks Mayor is corrupt. Local fish have three eyes. Some employees at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant are said to be incompetent.

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