10 Best Places to Live In Texas

A Credit Karma Study

Updated

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Are you planning to move to the Lone Star state? Or perhaps you already live in Texas and want to check out a new city.

To compile a list of the best places to live in Texas, Credit Karma created a methodology to score and rank the largest 100 cities in the state by population based on a range of factors. Criteria included crime rates, median home values, unemployment rates, personal income versus living expenses, access to healthcare and social assistance programs, number of arts and entertainment venues, diversity and population growth.

Here’s quick a look at our picks for the top 10 places to live in Texas, beginning with our top-ranked city.

  1. Leander
  2. McKinney
  3. Frisco
  4. Carrollton
  5. Wylie
  6. Allen
  7. Round Rock
  8. The Colony
  9. Plano
  10. Denton

Read on for more details about our choices, plus our other picks for the safest and cheapest places to live, and the best places for families.

Top 10 best places to live in Texas

Credit Karma analyzed data from the sources listed at the end of this article to come up with our choices for the best places to live in Texas.

1. Leander

Leander tops our list of the best places to live in Texas with a population of a little under 61,000. The population has grown by more than 89% over the past five years, making it the fastest-growing city of the 100 we analyzed. Of all Texas cities, Leander’s median home values have grown the most over the past couple of years — and per capita personal income here ($64,913) exceeds an individual’s estimated annual cost of living ($44,924). Also worth noting: The city’s unemployment rate declined by nearly 30% from 2015 to 2020.

2. McKinney

With a population of over 191,000, McKinney is next on our list of the best places to live in Texas. The city’s median home value increased by nearly 39% over the past year, and the per capita personal income in McKinney ($61,554) more than covers the typical cost of living for an individual ($44,992). Unemployment is relatively low compared to other cities. And the city is in an area with the most entertainment and recreation, healthcare and social assistance establishments of all cities in our study.

3. Frisco

Home to just over 188,000 people, Frisco has a low rate of violent crime, robust population growth and a lot of diversity. Personal per capita income ($61,554) exceeds the average annual cost of living ($44,992), and unemployment is low and has continued to decline in recent years.

4. Carrollton

Population 137,319, Carrollton has low rates of violent crime, declining unemployment and cost of living ($41,861) that’s well within the average income ($61,554) for this city. Commute time to work is faster than average, taking a little over 25 minutes on average in Carrollton. Additionally, the city has high scores in terms of its ethnic and age diversity.

5. Wylie

Wylie lands at number five on our list, with some of the lowest rates of violent and property crime in the top 10 cities overall, as well a cost of living that fits well within average income ($44,992 versus $61,554). Home values have steadily increased in recent years, but the median home value in Wylie is $441,913 — that’s roughly mid-range for home values among the rest of our top 10 cities.

6. Allen

Allen comes in at number six among the best places to live in Texas. Both violent crime and property crime rates are low in Allen, and the buffer between cost of living personal per capita income is identical to Wylie’s. Home values have grown at a healthy rate in recent years, while its unemployment rate has improved over the past five years.

7. Round Rock

With a population of 128,812, Round Rock is tied with Wylie for having the lowest rate of violent crime among the top 10 best cities to live in Texas. Per capita personal income in Round Rock ($64,913) more than covers the typical annual cost of living for an individual ($42,755), and it scores well in terms of its age distribution and ethnic diversity.

8. The Colony

Home to 43,791 residents, The Colony is the smallest city among our top 10 best places to live in Texas. Home values have increased in recent years, but the median home value of $427,632 in The Colony is in the middle range relative to those in our other top 10 cities. Economically, The Colony is doing well, with unemployment dropping from 7.8% in 2015 down to 3.4% in 2020 — one of the largest drops among the cities we looked at.

9. Plano

Plano has a population of 288,870, making it the largest city to rank in the top 10 best places to live in Texas. Plano scores well in terms of age distribution and diversity of its residents — and average cost of living ($44,992) falls well within residents’ average income ($61,554). In addition, Plano’s unemployment rate declined by 23.1% from 2015 to 2020.

10. Denton

Rounding out our list of the top 10 best places to live in Texas is Denton with a population of just under 140,000. While home values have grown in recent years, the city’s median home value is $390,738 — making it the least pricey among our top 10 cities. Denton’s unemployment fell by almost half, from 9.3% in 2015 to 4.9% in 2020, and its average commute time to work is the fastest in the top 10 at 23.9 minutes. And like our other top 10 cities, there’s a solid buffer — in this case more than $19,000 — between average cost of living and average income.

Overall ranking of the best cities to live in Texas

This table shows our list of the top 50 cities in Texas and how they stack up in terms of violent crime, median home value, one-year home value growth and unemployment rate — but keep in mind we examined other criteria, too.

Rank City Violent crime per capita (2020) Zillow median home value (May 2022) 1-year home value growth 2020 unemployment rate % (16 and over)
1 Leander 0.09% $561,757 38.1% 4.5
2 McKinney 0.14% $553,606 38.7% 3.5
3 Frisco 0.09% $701,826 39.7% 3.7
4 Carrollton 0.11% $431,505 29.2% 3.7
5 Wylie 0.07% $441,913 34.7% 4.4
6 Allen 0.10% $547,656 36.7% 4.3
7 Round Rock 0.07% $557,465 34.4% 4.9
8 The Colony 0.26% $427,632 31.4% 3.4
9 Plano 0.14% $541,546 32.3% 4.0
10 Denton 0.26% $390,738 32.7% 4.9
11 Cedar Park 0.10% $631,767 36.2% 4.0
12 Weatherford 0.09% $358,167 32.7% 3.6
13 Haltom City 0.05% $261,735 27.0% 4.9
14 Flower Mound 0.06% $624,618 32.9% 3.6
15 Pflugerville 0.11% $516,582 37.1% 4.8
16 Waxahachie 0.17% $374,905 33.5% 2.9
17 Little Elm 0.15% $467,906 38.2% 6.3
18 Rockwall 0.12% $461,378 34.3% 3.4
19 Euless 0.10% $362,049 24.5% 4.2
20 Sugar Land 0.05% $441,791 24.8% 4.9
21 Kyle 0.17% $411,976 43.9% 3.1
22 Hurst 0.21% $348,225 25.2% 3.3
23 Farmers Branch 0.18% $383,193 22.6% 2.9
24 Mansfield 0.08% $443,544 27.9% 3.7
25 North Richland Hills 0.17% $376,272 25.7% 3.8
26 Missouri City 0.15% $357,830 26.2% 6.4
27 Bedford 0.24% $383,711 24.5% 3.5
28 Rosenberg 0.37% $276,303 27.4% 5.5
29 Keller 0.07% $637,569 28.7% 3.3
30 Burleson 0.21% $335,058 31.2% 3.4
31 Lewisville 1.82% $424,747 30.3% 3.4
32 New Braunfels 0.23% $417,211 32.6% 4.4
33 Southlake 0.04% $1,170,022 29.9% 2.2
34 Arlington 0.45% $334,489 28.2% 5.2
35 Pearland 0.09% $366,009 23.1% 3.8
36 Coppell 0.07% $605,545 27.6% 2.4
37 Rowlett 0.14% $401,175 31.9% 4.3
38 Richardson 0.13% $458,062 26.1% 4.5
39 Austin 0.44% $686,669 29.4% 4.4
40 Conroe 0.18% $332,645 26.3% 4.0
41 Fort Worth 0.49% $328,090 29.7% 5.7
42 Grand Prairie 0.22% $335,405 29.2% 5.4
43 Cleburne 0.31% $266,350 29.9% 4.7
44 Georgetown 0.15% $551,791 31.5% 7.1
45 Irving 0.30% $345,561 25.2% 4.3
46 Garland 0.28% $312,419 28.2% 5.4
47 La Porte 0.22% $252,179 21.3% 5.7
48 League City 0.12% $366,679 20.6% 3.9
49 Schertz 0.14% $341,726 29.1% 4.2
50 Texas City 0.34% $214,331 23.0% 7.9

The cities that landed in the top 10 of our rankings are a mixed bag.

All of them have seen average home values increase in recent years, with price tags now typically from the high $300,000s to mid $500,000s. But if you’re looking to buy a home, your dream may be within closer reach in No. 10 Denton (with its $390,738 median home value) than in a city like No. 3 Frisco. Frisco’s median home value of $701,826, by far the highest among our top 10 cities.

A key characteristic among the best cities to live in Texas is a personal per capita income that exceeds annual per capita living expenses. In addition, unemployment rates have trended downward in these cities.

A growing population is a good sign that a city is thriving, and most of the top cities on the list have experienced growth in recent years. Leander’s population growth of 89.1% — from 32,051 in 2015 to 60,613 in 2020 — is the largest in the study. High rates of diversity and even distribution of the ages of residents are additional features of the top-ranking best places to live in Texas.

Where is the safest place to live in Texas?

Credit Karma used data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)-FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program to find cities with the lowest rates of violent crime in the state. Despite ranking poorly overall in the study, Odessa has a violent crime per capita rate of just 0.03%, making it the safest city in terms of crime according to the NIBRS data. The city also has the second lowest property crime rate at 0.19%.

Rounding out the top five safest cities in the state (based on violent crime per capita) are Southlake, Haltom City, Sugar Land and Flower Mound.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Texas?

Credit Karma used information from Zillow’s Home Value Index to find the cities with the least expensive home prices in Texas and the difference between personal per capita income (sourced from the Bureau of Economic Analysis) and annual cost of living for an individual adult (sourced from the Economic Policy Institute) to help determine the cheapest places to live in Texas.

The city with the lowest home values is Port Arthur at $85,125. But low housing prices alone don’t necessarily make a city affordable — you must also consider how much you’re earning in relation to the cost of housing and to cost of living in general.

Port Arthur has a personal per capita income of $47,281, with an average cost of living of $33,737. That’s less breathing room than many other cities in Texas offer. So while Port Arthur might be the cheapest place to buy a home in Texas, whether it’s the cheapest city to live in may be debatable.

What is the best place in Texas for families?

Credit Karma used data from multiple sources listed at the end of this article to pick the best place in Texas for families based on …

  • Crime rates
  • Access to healthcare and social assistance programs
  • Access to arts, entertainment and recreational activities

With the second lowest rate of violent crime in the state and nearby access to tens of thousands of healthcare and social assistance establishments, Southlake might seem like an obvious choice in Texas for families. The area has plenty of arts and entertainment venues and recreational activities to keep families busy. But Southlake might be one of the least affordable places to live in Texas for most people.

Carrollton, which ranked as the No. 4 best place to live in Texas, and Wylie, which ranked No. 5, are cities that also have wide access to accommodation and food services plus arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments. And housing in those cities might be more within reach — with median home values of $431,505 for Carrollton and $441,913 for Wylie versus more than $1.1 million in Southlake.

Carrollton, in particular, has more diversity in terms of age range, and both Carrollton and Wylie have low rates of violent crime per capita.

Tips for choosing the best place to live in Texas

The criteria we considered to compile our ranking are important, but other factors matter, too — depending on your lifestyle.

For example, almost every locale in our top 10 is a mid-sized city. If you’ve always dreamed of living in a big city, these smaller cities may not be your best bet.

If your heart is set on living in Texas but you can’t decide where to put down roots, you might want to think about other things like …

  • Do you want to live in an urban, suburban or rural area?
  • Do you want to drive to work or take public transportation?
  • Will you be close to family and friends and does that matter to you?
  • How many employment opportunities are available in your profession?
  • What’s the population like? For example, are there a lot of families? Retirees? Working singles?
  • What is there to do for fun?
  • How far away is the closest airport?
  • What type of housing is available? (single family homes, condos, apartments, duplexes, townhouses, etc.)
  • What are the schools like (if you have children)?

Deciding where to live is about more than the numbers. Be sure to consider all the factors that are important to you, including those that can’t be easily measured.

You may not be able to find a city that checks every box on your wish list, but you can prioritize the things that matter most to you and select a new hometown based on them.

Methodology

To identify the best and worst places to live in Texas, we used the criteria below to analyze 100 of the largest cities by population. Each city was given a score for every factor. Scores were combined and cities were given an overall rank based on their composite score.

  1. All violent crime reported in 2020, sourced from FBI Uniform Crime Reporting; violent crimes reported were divided by the city’s population to get the crime rate per capita
  2. All property crime reported in 2020, sourced from FBI Uniform Crime Reporting; property crimes reported were divided by the city’s population to get the crime rate per capita
  3. Number of food and drink establishments by metropolitan statistical area (MSA), sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 Economic Census (latest available)
  4. Number of hospitals by MSA, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 Economic Census (latest available)
  5. Number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments by MSA, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 Economic Census (latest available)
  6. Zillow median home value for all homes, May 2022, sourced from Zillow’s Home Value Index
  7. One-year home value growth, sourced from Zillow’s Home Value Index
  8. Two-year home value growth, sourced from Zillow’s Home Value Index
  9. Five-year home value growth, sourced from Zillow’s Home Value Index
  10. Average commute to work for people ages 16 and older, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates
  11. Annual unemployment rate, sourced from Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates
  12. Five-year change in unemployment rate, from 2015 to 2020, sourced from Census Bureau’s 2015 and 2020 American Community Surveys, 5-Year Estimates
  13. Difference between annual per capita personal income, metropolitan statistical area (MSA) level, 2020, sourced from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and annual cost of living for one adult, based on Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator
  14. Distribution of age of population in each city compared to national age distribution, sourced Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates
  15. Diversity score based on ethnicities of population in each city, sourced from Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates
  16. Age-adjusted health status of physical health not good, sourced from the CDC’s Local Data for Better Health, County Data 2021 release
  17. Age-adjusted mental health status not good, sourced from the CDC’s Local Data for Better Health, County Data 2021 release
  18. Fair or poor self-rated health status, sourced from the CDC’s Local Data for Better Health, County Data 2021 release
  19. Five-year population growth, sourced from  Census Bureau’s 20015 and 2020 American Community Surveys, 5-Year Estimates

Sources


About the author: Jennifer Brozic is a freelance financial services writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in communication management from Towson University. She’s committed… Read more.