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Best Texas Cities for Young Families



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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, TX

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.

2.    Allen, TX

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, TX

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, TX

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.

5.    Pearland, TX

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.

6.    Frisco, TX

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.

7.    McKinney, TX

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.

8.    Abilene, TX

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.

9.    Richardson, TX

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.

10. Carrollton, TX

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
5 Houston Pearland, Texas 8 $177,600 $1,900 $103,136 5.30% 49.7
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.

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  • Richard

    Shocking (and somewhat discrediting) that Carrollton’s schools are rated highly. I live in Carrollton, and CFBISD has a few good schools and some absolutely abysmal schools. I don’t know if they’ve found a way to game the ratings, if the ratings are crap, or if it’s simply a case of being fair in a mediocre state, but something smells rotten in the state of Denmark!

    • David A. Gilbert

      The individual school ratings in Carrollton are something of a mixed bag. They have a couple performing schools…and a lot of 5’s. (Managing a net 7 for the school system was not much of an accomplishment.) Neighborhood matters more than city, if your only consideration is school quality.

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  • Matt Gabelich

    I’m looking to relocate from Australia to Texas to set up a new business. Which city would be the best to live in

    • NWDivya

      Hi Matt,

      We actually have another article on the best cities for small business, and several Texas cities made the list:

      Many people move to Austin, Houston and Dallas. Good luck with your move!

      • Matt Gabelich

        What about something like Gruene or New Braunfels where there appears to be an historic township of some sort. i love old architecture and would like to set up an office in a nice township.

        • poncho iram

          new braunfelds is great.. im moving there in a few months.. great city

  • Jennifer Ceko

    My family and I are thinking of re-locating from Chicago to Dallas. We are looking in the Allen, Frisco, McKinney areas of Dallas. For never being in Texas, I have a hard time visualizing what it is like. My main concerns are finding a modern, growing suburb with young families with a southern feel. I also want to find an excellent school district. My children are currently in K and preschool. I am also a school social worker in the schools up in Chicago. Any help on areas to focus on. My husband and I are very social so we know we can make new friends. Please any help would be appreciated.

    • poncho iram


  • rebecca

    Yea we are considering texas for us and our young boys. We Could use all the opportunity and information. Call adam at 239-672-5739 or email us at thank you.

  • courtney

    Hey, Im originally from Stl and thinking of relocating to Houston Tx. I haven’t been since I was a little girl but now im an adult with a family of my own. St. Louis is getting so bad as far as crime, cost of living, no jobs etc and I wanted to see is my decision the right one. Is there better job opportunities out there? Better school systems? what abt the crime and murder rate? Is it an easier state than stl? Keep in mind im 27 and am looking to get into anything but prefer working in customer service, hospitality and or restaurants. Thanks.

  • Dennis Wholey

    il looking to transfer with my job fedex freight…. currently live in illinois….debating what city i should look for …. I do want to be close to hunting, fishing…. and am considering buying a home with land on it for that purpose or even renting… so far it seems that many cities near dallas fort worth are looking… considering west of dallas as well? originally I’m from missouri…but the economy there isn’t growing enough to make it worth me taking a family there…..any help or ideas thanks.