There are few places in the United States, or the world for that matter, that are as stereotyped as much as Texas. A mention of the name evokes certain images of the place.
Country music. Western hats. A certain distinctive twang and drawl. Barbecues. Rodeos and ranches. Heavy-duty pickup trucks. Cowboys on horseback roping cattle. The American flag on the front porch. Starry night skies. And, of course, the Dallas Cowboys.
Well, the Lone Star State is that and more. Much more. And if you are looking to move here, chances are you will be interested in more than just the stereotypes.
Good thing is, Texas has always remained an attractive state for reasons that include good climate, low state taxes, affordable housing, exciting cities and plenty to do. And as if we needed any reminding, the latest Best Cities to Live in America rankings has placed Texas firmly in second in terms of livability, second only to California.
The rankings by Niche.com factored in aspects like quality of local schools, employment statistics, housing trends, crime rates and access to amenities.
We came up with our own list based on this hard data, while also taking into account what the locals themselves have to say. And here are the cities, towns and suburbs that made it on our list of 15 best places to live in Texas.
1. The Woodlands
The Woodlands has been named the sixth best place to live in America.
That doesn’t come as much of a surprise because anyone who has spent time in one of Houston’s swankiest suburbs will undeniably admit the place really is in a class of its own.
The small town of 105,000 residents has enough upscale restaurants, shopping, concerts and events to make it a destination spot in its own right. It also happens to be one of the most picturesque places you can ever live, with lush greens and wooded areas characterising the landscape.
There is a reason they call it The Woodlands, you know.
Crime rate is absolutely low, in case you think the bad guys might be lurking in the bushes, with only a single case of burglary reported annually per 100,000. Cost of living is a tad high, but many would consider the $311,300 median home value an absolute steal.
The latest data also ranked Plano very favourably, quietly slotting in behind The Woodlands into seventh-best place to live in the United States.
With a population of 275,645, Plano has one of the lowest crime rates in Texas, as well as some of the lowest taxes in the region. It prides itself as ‘A great place to do business’, and very much lives up to that tag.
A constellation of office buildings pierce its Texan sky, and every business seems to be shifting operations here – JP Morgan Chase, Dean & Delucca, Barnes & Noble, Shake Shack and more. It is also regional headquarters for giants such as PepsiCo, Bank of America, Intel and Cigna.
With such a phenomenal growth rate, the median home value isn’t likely to remain $329,100 for long (it stood at $301,848 in 2016, and $231,600 in 2011).
It is an incredibly diverse town, Plano, with a whopping 80 languages spoken in its highly rated schools. New residents are sure to warm up to their new surrounds within no time, considering the great camaraderie the community is keen to foster.
Euless regards itself as a mid-size city with a small-town spirit. Whether a population of about 53,000 is sufficient to warrant it the definition of a mid-size city we are not exactly sure.
But what’s for certain is that the town tucked in between Dallas and Fort Worth is one of the best places to live in Texas. As in many other parts of the state these days, Euless is pretty diverse, with a high number of Hispanics and Asians.
Indeed, the most diverse public high school in Texas is here. Name’s Trinity High School, a high ranking institution in all facets – academic, sports (the Trojans were winners of the 2015 district championship), and even specialised classes which include robotics and cosmetology.
Outdoor lovers will be glad to know Euless has an 18-hole championship status golf course. As well, there is an aquatic park where the kids can lose themselves, not to mention 300 acres of parkland.
The unemployment rate stands at a paltry 4.1 per cent, and the added perk in a state where long distances are the norm is that Dallas is only 30 minutes away.
A typical home in Euless goes for $200,000.
For anyone looking to raise a family in Texas, one of the areas you should consider is Richardson.
This is a well-run suburb of 110,000 residents, where over half of all adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The typical household brings in upwards of $80,000 a year, a large part of which goes into saving (we want to believe) given the cost of living is lower than most cities.
Goods and services fetch at prices indicative of the national average. And with violent crime almost an unheard occurrence around these parts, it is easy to see why Richardson came in at an impressive No. 13 on the Best Cities to Live in America.
The small city is nested just outside of Dallas, meaning Richardson residents get to enjoy the best of both worlds: the economic opportunities and cultural amenities in the big city, minus the property and higher violent crime rates.
5. Round Rock
Round Rock has been an ever-present in the best places to live in the country through the years, and 2017 saw the little suburban utopia of about 110,000 residents check in at No.16.
And here’s why.
For one, Round Rock is within proximity of all the fun and culture of Austin, with Dallas also less than three hours away. The unemployment rate is extremely low, and everyone you come across seems to be an engineer of sorts.
But that’s probably because this is the home of Dell, with other tech behemoths like IBM and Samsung also laying claim to these coveted lands, far from the buzz and exorbitance of Silicon Valley.
Majority of Round Rock residents own their own homes, but if you are looking to move into a rental, the going rate is currently playing at the $1,000 mark.
The schools are superb, always scoring high, and the area boasts an assortment of eateries enough for a bigger city. There is lots to do for the outdoorsy type – running trails, endless parks, plenty of sports and recreation options, not to mention a variety of other special events.
Round Rock is a dream. An American dream.
We don’t often get to see large cities in the lists of best places to live, only relying on their suburbs for the bragging rights. But Austin managed an incredible No. 22 in 2017. So attractive is the capital of Texas that this is not the first time it has received an honourable mention this year.
The U.S. News and World Report was less conservative earlier, naming Austin the best place to live in America in an annual report that ranks the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.
It knocked Denver off the perch, and partly to thank was a high desirability level. As well, a growth in the capital’s median salary which stands at $57,689 contributed to the favourable ranking, so did the low unemployment rate which has hovered around three per cent in the last year.
Austin is a city comprised mostly of young people, with millennials particularly drawn to the city like a moth to flame. Which naturally follows that the nightlife has to be vibrant, and that’s exactly what you get.
Amazingly, Austin’s population has managed to stay below the 1 million mark – it currently stands at 947,890. But it’s only a matter of time before that barrier is breached, especially seeing as houses are going for an average $325,700.
7. College Station
College Station is tucked somewhere in the heart of central Texas, 100 miles each of Houston (to the northwest) and Austin (to the northeast), with Dallas lying some 200 miles north.
The city of 101,000 gets its name from the prestige of hosting the famous Texas A&M University, one of America’s largest public universities. It has been accused of having a small town feel, but turns out, it is that exact feel that saw it land on position 28 of Best Cities to Live in America.
Expectedly, it is incredibly diverse, and the cost of living is reasonable, sitting below the national average.
Texas is generally affordable, that much is for certain. But if you really want to cut your costs and don’t mind a small town feel, then you will absolutely love College Station. The going rate for an average house is a little under the $200,000 mark.
Residents enjoy the convenience of the ingenious Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Plan which factors in everyone’s best interests.
And the result could only be happy residents.
Houston has made a name for itself as the space shuttle launch centre (and probably oil refineries) but there is much more to the Bayou City.
It was ranked #57 on the Best Cities to Live in America, and this economic juggernaut has for years been regarded as the biggest job creator in the country, with an incredible 26 Fortune 500 companies calling the city home.
Perhaps what is even more striking about Houston is that you would expect it to be undoubtedly expensive, but a paycheck in this city of 2.3 million residents goes farther than any place else in the country.
Healthcare in Houston is a big deal, in every sense of the word, as the city has a medical centre that is larger than downtown Dallas.
Throw in a booming cultural and restaurant scene, and Houston, a city with an attractive median home value of $312,900, easily puts a winning case as one of the best cities in America.
If you are looking to move to Dallas, one of the first places you need to base your search is Denton. Denton is a county, although its main city also goes by the same name.
Education seems to be the in-thing in Texas right now, and Denton is keen not to be left behind. The University of Texas and Texas Woman’s University are both based in this city of 125,734 people, essentially making this a university town.
But Denton is more than that, despite the fact that the residents sometimes call it ‘little d’, as opposed to the nearby ‘Big D’, Dallas. It is one of the most diverse, culturally vibrant, and progressive-thinking communities in Texas.
Majority of residents are either entrepreneurs, work in tech, or the creative industry. The city scores highly in housing (current median housing stands at $265,000), and it is generally considered exceptionally livable.
There is a thriving art and culture scene that is considered large for its size, with an average 20 significant fairs and festivals happening every year. From music, to air shows; Cinco de Mayo even.
And did we mention it was ranked No. 64 in the Best Cities to Live in America? That’s right!
The name may not elicit images of a place worthy of a top 100 entry in the best cities list, but names count for little in Lubbock.
It is in Lubbock that you will find the Texas Tech University, the biggest employer in a city of 240,000 residents.
A good deal of the residents also work at the Lubbock Independent School District (notice the school theme) and Covenant Health System. The large number of jobs in education and healthcare means about three out of every 10 adults in Lubbock have a college degree.
The town ranks favourably in terms of commute, and in fact has one of the lowest percentages of people who commute for 60 minutes or more. Then again, with everyone working in their neck of the woods, that’s to be expected, no?
Nevertheless, the town has a well-developed transport system, and public transportation is decent. It has been touted as very conservative, though the nightlife itself is surprisingly good, with plenty of happening spots.
The outdoor enthusiast may feel a little restricted, but for anyone looking to further their career in the education sector, you will rarely find better cities that fit the bill.
With highly rated public schools, affordable housing and plenty of recreational activities, the Dallas suburb of Frisco has for years remained one of the most desirable areas in the state.
The city suburb with a population of 277,600 has been described as a ‘shopper’s paradise’ due to its nine million square feet of retail and dining that maintains the ‘big factor’ of the Lone Star State.
House prices have skyrocketed last few years – from $277,600 in 2011 to the current $393,500 – and the market is expected to remain bullish. So, if there was ever a time to buy, now would be ideal.
If you are big on sports, then Frisco is the perfect place for you. It is home to every team you heard growing up, and sports is especially a huge employer, with its healthcare gaining plenty of accolades too.
Pearland is conveniently located a short 20 minutes from downtown Houston (and 15 minutes from the Johnson Space Center).
On average, each household brings in $95,972 annually, and the high earning rate can be attributed to the over two dozen Fortune 500 companies in Houston which have no doubt contributed to the noticeable diversity you find in this area.
Public schools are established performers, and when it comes to dining and shopping, the fast-growing Texas suburb will have you spoilt for choice. The city has about 140 restaurants, with the open-air lifestyle mall and Pearland Town Center great spots for shopping and catching up with friends.
Pearland residents love their golf. You will often find them swinging in some of the city’s popular courses, including the 18-course championship level Pearland Golf Club, Golfcrest Country Club and Southwyck Golf Club.
Compared to most parts of the state, the cost of living here is a dollar too high. Rental houses average $1,206, but considering the perks that come with living in Pearland, that’s small potatoes.
13. Cedar Park
It might not have made it to the Best Cities list, but Cedar Park is hands down one of the most desirable areas to raise a family in the whole of Texas.
This is a hot up-and-coming suburb in Austin with a population of 60,800. It is within 20 minutes of downtown, and the town is highly regarded when it comes to public school performance, desirability for families, diversity and nightlife.
Outdoor lovers will appreciate what Cedar Park has to offer, with nearby attractions including the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Travis.
Also in abundance are dining options that range from the famous family-owned Texan steakhouses, to Asian cuisine (a common trend in Texas), as well as a range of craft brew pubs and trendy coffee shops.
For those who love shopping, Lakeline Mall might turn out to be the biggest mistake in Cedar Park; you will find everything you ever need (and don’t need) here.
Snuggled farther away from downtown Austin, you will encounter one of the most picturesque suburbs in Texas. Spicewood is a gorgeous community that is along northern Lake Travis in Burnet County.
Home to just about 10,000 residents, most of these homes are in or near the seven-figure range. Well, it all depends on where the property is located exactly, but the average swings about the $600,000 mark.
What this great community offers is something that is incredibly hard to come by these days: solitude. It’s hard not to love, and the good thing is it is not just ideal for retirees. The area has a great elementary school, making it one of the most ideal places to live in Austin if you have young children.
Anytime they get bored with the serenity and want a dose of some city madness, downtown is always just 45 minutes away.
Lewisville is a suburb in Denton County, Dallas with a population of 101,000 residents.
Unlike Spicewood, housing prices here are low (low as in below national average low) ranging at 156,800 on average. For a municipality that is a few minutes away from Dallas and Fort Worth, that is nothing short of modest.
But it is not like this is a town for the have-nots. It just happens to offer value for buck, Lewisville, delivering an eclectic assortment of things to do. These range from an array of outdoor recreation activities, most of which revolve around Lewisville Lake, to the Old Town Lewisville shopping district.
The overall desirability for families is pretty high, thanks to exceptional rankings when it comes to the usual suspects – public schools, health and fitness, jobs, livability, diversity, and commute (all ranked A by Niche.com), and a host of other factors.