(A 2014 version of this study can be found here.)
As an economically thriving state with a low cost of living, Texas offers plenty of options when it comes to family-friendly cities. Texas families want to live where the schools are good, the living is cheap and the city is growing.
NerdWallet examined the data on Texas cities to find the 10 best places for young families.
We focused on three questions:
- Does the city have a good public school system? We assessed the school quality using the GreatSchools.org score. GreatSchools is a nonprofit that rates schools based on standardized test scores compared to the state average. Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
- Can you afford to live there? We included the median home value and monthly home owner costs — mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
- Is the city growing and prospering? We assessed the local economy with the median annual household income and population growth. A higher income and percentage population growth led to a higher overall score.
Best Texas cities for young families
1. The Woodlands
The Woodlands, the first master-planned community in the U.S., is located on the outskirts of Houston. Here, the population increased 69% from 2000 and 2010. The city is home to several corporate campuses, including Chevron Phillips and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Most public schools in The Woodlands are rated exemplary by the state of Texas, and both The Woodlands High School and The Woodlands College Park High School were on Newsweek’s 2012 list of the best high schools in the U.S. Public schools in The Woodlands received a GreatSchools rating of 9 out of a top score of 10.
Allen is affordable, with a growing population, and high median household income. This city is an ideal place for young families to settle down. Schools here were rated 9 out of 10 at GreatSchools. The Allen Independent School District is excellent, and it boasts a winning football team and award-winning marching band, too.
3. Flower Mound
Flower Mound is one of the country’s highest-earning cities, with 62.8% of households earning over $100,000 a year. The public schools earned a perfect 10 at GreatSchools, making this an ideal city for parents looking for schools where their children will thrive. The Lewisville School District was rated “recognized,” the second-highest category, by the Texas Education Agency.
4. League City
League City earned a 9 out of 10 at GreatSchools, and the median home value is relatively low while the median annual income is quite high, making the city affordable for young families. League City is near Galveston Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and NASA Johnson Space Center.
Pearland is a rapidly growing city — the population jumped over 5% from 2010 to 2011 — so homebuyers are likely to see their home values get a boost. The high-quality public schools make living in this city a good educational investment as well as a financial investment. Pearland is diverse, with 62 languages spoken in the schools.
Frisco’s top-notch schools, high median annual household income and high population growth make it clear that this city is great for young families. Frisco is home to branch offices of Equifax, MillerCoors and Oracle. Frisco’s urban forests have earned it the designation of Tree City USA.
McKinney’s excellent school system and high growth make this city an appealing option for families looking to settle near the Metroplex. This is a city full of farmers markets and art galleries, where the hospital employs many health care workers. The city’s proximity to Dallas allows for a shorter commute.
With very affordable housing, a median annual household income in line with the national average, a growing population and good schools, Abilene is a great choice for young families. Home to a branch of Texas State Technical College and Cisco Junior College, Abilene contains two school districts, the Abilene Independent School District as well as Wylie Independent School District.
Richardson schools earned an 8 out of 10 at GreatSchools, and the affordable housing and high population growth make this city ideal for young families. Richardson’s thriving economy is largely due to the fact that it is home to the University of Texas at Dallas and the Telecom Corridor, which contains branches of AT&T, Verizon, Cisco, Samsung and other companies.
Carrollton has affordable housing and high-quality public schools. This growing city offers plenty to young families. Carrollton is home to several large employers, including Halliburton Energy Services. Located just outside of Dallas, Carrollton offers small-town comfort as well as big-city accessibility.
Best Texas cities for young families
Scroll right for all data categories.
|Rank||Nearest big city||City||GreatSchools rating||Median home value||Monthly owner costs||Median household income||Population change||Overall score for young families|
|1||Houston||The Woodlands, Texas||9||$277,300||$2,191||$131,471||22.60%||59.8|
|2||Dallas-Fort Worth||Allen, Texas||9||$193,400||$1,812||$109,742||3.00%||54.6|
|3||Dallas-Fort Worth||Flower Mound, Texas||10||$274,000||$2,148||$138,759||1.50%||52.5|
|4||Houston||League City, Texas||9||$180,500||$1,820||$98,263||0.20%||51.6|
|6||Dallas-Fort Worth||Frisco, Texas||9||$234,900||$2,133||$123,596||3.00%||49|
|7||Dallas-Fort Worth||McKinney, Texas||8||$183,600||$1,738||$97,792||3.00%||48.8|
|8||Dallas-Fort Worth||Abilene, Texas||6||$85,300||$1,007||$51,405||3.20%||48.3|
|9||Dallas-Fort Worth||Richardson, Texas||8||$187,100||$1,655||$85,291||2.00%||46.8|
|10||Dallas-Fort Worth||Carrollton, Texas||7||$158,800||$1,512||$78,601||2.40%||44.8|
The overall score for the 52 cities in this study is from the following measures:
1. GreatSchools city rating. GreatSchools city ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city, which is weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school.
2. Median home value is from the 2011 American Community Survey, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau.
3. Monthly homeowner costs are from the 2011 American Community Survey, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau.
4. Median annual household income is from the 2011 American Community Survey, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau.
5. Population change from 2010 to 2011 are from the U.S. Census Bureau.