Founded in 1865, this horsy northwestern suburb offers plenty of room for families to spread out—and feels far more removed from Chicago than it actually is. (The Metra train stops right in the center of town and can whisk you to Ogilvie Transportation Center in 50 minutes.) In its exceedingly compact, walkable downtown, you can not only make a grocery run but also do a round of boutique shopping or grab a quick pint at a pub in an old bank building. Barrington’s many quaint Victorian houses are also a draw.

The median house price here took quite a hit, falling 36 percent from 2006 to 2012. While last year witnessed a major rally—prices rose 19 percent—housing in Barrington is still a decent buy. The recent increase in demand is reflected in speedier sales. The typical house sits on the market for 112 days, compared with 169 last year.