Best Texas Cities for Young Families
(A 2014 version of this study can be found here.)
As an economically thriving state with a low cost of living, Texas offers its residents plenty of options when it comes to family-friendly cities. Texas families want to live somewhere where the schools are good, the living is cheap and the city is growing. Young families may not have much savings, and they are thinking long-term, trying to ensure their children can attend good schools throughout their entire educations. NerdWallet sifted through Texas cities to find the ten best for young families according to the following three questions:
- Does the city have a good public school system? We assessed the school quality using the GreatSchools score. GreatSchools is a respected 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 the monthly home owner cost, which is the sum of mortgage costs, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuels and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
- Is the city growing and prospering? We assessed the local economy of the city through the median household income and the population growth. A higher income and percentage population growth led to a higher overall score.
Best cities for young families
1. The Woodlands
The Woodlands is the first master-planned community in the United States. On the outskirts of Houston, this burgeoning city’s population increased by 69% between 2000 and 2010. The city houses several corporate campuses, including Chevron Phillips and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. 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 United States. Public schools in The Woodlands received a GreatSchools rating of 9/10. While the median home value is pricey for Texas, the property is very likely to appreciate—the population grew by 22.6% between 2010 and 2011.
Allen is affordable, with a growing population, high median household income and rating of 9/10 on Greatschools. This city is an ideal place for young families to settle down. The Allen Independent School District is excellent, and it boasts a winning football team and award-winning marching band as well.
3. Flower Mound
Flower Mound is one of the country’s highest earning cities, with 62.8% of households earning over $100,000 per year. The public schools in the city earned it a 10/10 on 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. The school district also has an exemplary music education program.
4. League City
League City earned a 9/10 on GreatSchools, and the median home value is fairly low while the median income is quite high, making the city very affordable for young families. League City is near Galveston Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and NASA Johnson Space Center, so this waterfront town is full of family-friendly things to do.
Pearland is a rapidly growing city—the population grew more than 5% between 2010 and 2011, so homebuyers in Pearland are likely to have their houses grow in value over the coming years. The high-quality public schools make living in this city a good education investment as well as a financial investment. Pearland is diverse as well, and 62 languages are spoken in the schools.
Frisco’s top-notch schools, high median household income and high population growth make it clear that this city is great for young families. Frisco is home to branches of Equifax, MillerCoors and Oracle. Frisco’s urban forests have earned it the designation of “Tree City USA,” and this family-friendly, environmentally responsible city is great for kids.
McKinney’s excellent school system and high growth rate make this city an appealing option for families looking to settle near The Metroplex. Full of farmer’s markets and art galleries, this city’s hospital employs many healthcare workers, and the city’s proximity to Dallas allows for a fairly short commute.
With very affordable housing, a median household income in line with the national average, a growing population and good schools, Abilene is a great choice for financially-minded 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 8/10 on 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 both 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.
|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 each city was derived 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 (weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school)
2. Median home value from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
3. Monthly homeowner costs from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
4. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP03, half-weighted)
5. Population change between 2010 and 2011 from the from the U.S. Census (data set CP02, half-weighted)
52 Texas cities designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis.