Long the center of the U.S. oil and gas industry, the Lone Star State now hosts a wider variety of industries, including tech, autos and health care; it’s an outgrowth of the state’s business environment, which is seen by some as friendlier than in other states. And Texas has grown: Its population ballooned an estimated 11% from 2010 to 2016 (compared to 5% in that time in the U.S.), according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
It’s not a mystery why people — including young families — are moving to the state. Well-paying jobs with relatively low costs of living and highly rated schools go a long way toward telling the story.
» COMPARE: Best Places for Young Families in Texas
NerdWallet examined 239 places in Texas — cities, towns and census-designated places — using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to find the places that offer the best combination of affordability, quality schools, future growth and prosperity, and family-friendliness.
Only places with over 10,000 residents were analyzed. To see the data, click here.
North Texas reels in the big fish. Eight of the top 10 cities in our analysis are in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area. If the region was a state, it would have the ninth largest gross domestic product in the country, in large part due to corporate residents such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (Irving), AT&T Inc. (Dallas) and American Airlines (Fort Worth). This year, Toyota’s North American headquarters opened its doors in Plano, too.
The best places aren’t necessarily the most affordable. The top 10 cities all rank in the lower 40% of our analysis in terms of home affordability, a composite of median home value and selected monthly owner costs. The Dallas-area suburb of Murphy is the 225th most-affordable place out of 239 yet ranks No. 1 overall for young families, in large part due to its strong school scores and family-friendliness.
Top places tend to be fast-growing, small- to mid-size suburbs. The top 10 places in our analysis range in population from 10,128 (Royse City) to 137,797 (Frisco), and they are close to either Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. All of these places saw strong population growth from 2000 to 2015, ranging from 12% for New Territory to 690% for Cibolo.
Tips on relocating
- Consider financial options, such as a good credit card, to cover expenses while in transition.
- Read about how to lessen the financial burden of moving.
- Plan for expenses in your new location with our cost-of-living calculator.
For more resources, check out NerdWallet’s Moving and money: A financial guide for relocating.
Best places for young families in Texas
Once merely a small settlement at the crossroads of Farm to Market Road 544 and Murphy Road, the city of Murphy has more than sextupled in size since 2000 to about 20,000 residents, due, in part, to the creation of the George Bush Turnpike, which partially circles Dallas. Murphy scores well in our analysis on schools, with a SchoolDigger score of 96.72 out of 100, and for its family-friendliness. It ranks third in our analysis for percentage of households that have married-couple families with children younger than 18 (49.6%) and it’s tied for first with several other cities with virtually no families with children under age 5 living in poverty. That said, it’s among the more expensive places in our analysis: Median home value is the 14th highest, and median selected monthly homeowner costs rank at 15th overall.
2. Flower Mound
Flower Mound gets its name from a prominent 50-foot mound that is said to have 175 species of wildflowers. The nearly 70,000-resident town rates among the best for family friendliness, with 44% of households having families with young kids. A suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the town has the third-highest median home value of the places in our top 10 (though it’s actually quite affordable compared with similar cities nationwide). Meanwhile, its schools, which are part of the Lewisville Independent School District, rank sixth in our analysis, with a SchoolDigger score of 93.59.
One of the larger suburbs of Dallas, Frisco gets its name from the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, a stretch of which ran through town. Today, the city of 138,000 hosts the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL franchise’s 91-acre corporate campus and training facility. Like the other Dallas-area cities on our list, Frisco scores well for family-friendliness: 43.9% of households are married-couple families with kids younger than 18, and very few — less than 2% — families with children under age 5 live in poverty. Much like other Dallas suburbs, Frisco is relatively pricey, with a median home value of that makes it the 19th highest in this analysis and monthly owner costs that rank as the 16th highest overall.
4. New Territory
New Territory is a census-designated place and 3,200-acre planned community about 30 miles from Houston, but on Dec. 12, 2017, it will become part of Sugar Land. New Territory ranks second-highest in our analysis for percentage of households that have married-couple families with younger children (50.4%) and like some other top places, 0% of families with children under 5 are living in poverty. It’s a relatively affluent Texas community, ranking eighth in our analysis for the median annual family income of $138,750.
Local legend holds that Wylie’s original name, Nickelville, came about either because it was the site of a nickel store or a resident joked that “no one who lived there ‘was worth a plug nickel,’” according to the town’s website. That changed in the late 1800s when a railroad laid tracks here. Today, the city of 44,000 has nearly tripled in population since 2000 and it ranks well when it comes to education, with a SchoolDigger score of 85.11, good for a tie for 20th in our analysis. It’s relatively affordable compared with the rest of the top 10, but still pricier when compared with most places in Texas — the median home value here is tied for 60th-highest in our analysis of 239 places, and median selected monthly owner costs are 49th.
Named after Ebenezer Allen, the former Texas attorney general and early booster of the railroad that passed through what would become the center of town, Allen today is a city of 93,000 that sits about 25 miles north of Dallas. Its schools, part of the Allen Independent School District, rank 11th in our analysis with a SchoolDigger score of 91.96. Allen High School made national news in 2012 with the opening of a $60 million, 18,000-seat football stadium.
Originally called Brooklyn but forced to change its name because there was already a city of the same name — not in New York, but in East Texas — the city of Forney sits about 20 miles east of Dallas along U.S. Highway 80. The city has tripled in population since 2000 to 17,000 people, ranks 12th in our analysis for percentage of households that have married-couple families with young children (42%) and has 0% of families with children under age 5 living in poverty.
Formed from the merging of two communities, Rock Hill and Richland, around the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, Prosper ranks highly in our analysis for school quality (ninth). It also ranks well on measures of growth and prosperity: tied at 14th for 1999-2015 family income growth at 100%, and 17th in median annual family income at $128,265. That said, it’s also the least affordable city in our top 10, with median home value that’s seventh-highest overall, and median selected monthly owner costs that are the sixth highest out of 239 places.
The only city in the San Antonio area in our top 10, Cibolo has nearly eight times the residents today (about 24,000) than it did in 2000. The city scores well in our analysis for measures of prosperity, with 1999-2015 family income growth of 75% (tied for the 38th highest) and median annual family income of $94,214 (37th highest).
10. Royse City
Sitting about 30 miles northeast of Dallas, Royse City is the most affordable city in the top 10 of our analysis, ranking in a tie for 98th for median home value and 94th for median selected monthly owner costs. It is also tied at 16th in our analysis for percentage of households that have married-couple families with young children (40.7%).
Best places for young families in Texas data
NerdWallet analyzed 239 places in Texas with populations above 10,000. With the exception of school-quality scores, all data were five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Our methodology focused on these factors:
Home affordability, 30% of the total score, was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score.
Educational quality. Using ratings from SchoolDigger for 2017, every place received a score from 1 to 100 for the quality of schools, which was 20% of the total.
Growth and prosperity are 20% of the total score. The two metrics involved were growth in family income from 1999 to 2015, and median family income in 2015. Both were weighted equally and positively.
Family-friendliness, which is 30% of the total score, is the percentage of married-couple households with at least one child younger than age 18, and the percentage of families living in poverty with at least one child younger than age 5. (The percentage of families with at least one child was 70% of this score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30% of the score.)
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