A phenomenally rapidly growing "town" that threatens to turn the Research Triangle of North Carolina into a Research Quadrangle. About 91,000 people live here, up from about 206 five years ago.

Okay, so I exaggerate. But not by much. Due to its prime location near the Research Triangle Park and the state capital Raleigh, NC, the population of Cary and its surrounding communities has exploded -- Chapel Hill, NC may be the only Triangle community more expensive to live in. The influx of people and rapid growth have led to the predictable regional humor: when the Raleigh News and Observer held a contest for a new motto for the capital city, one submission was "Raleigh: Gateway to Cary." Another common gag is "CARY: Containment Area for Relocated Yankees."

While residential-and-retail heavy, Cary businesses include SAS Institute, the largest privately-held software company in the world, and IBM. (IBM's PC manufacturing center is in the Park.)