Study: Best Cities to Raise a Family in Texas

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Texas is larger than life, not only in size but as an attractive home for families that love to get out and play and explore the outdoors. There's lots to see and do here and so many options for settling down. Need a place where you feel safe, you can afford your home, and you don't have to spend hours away each week in the commute corral? Here are the 10 cities where you can have it all and give your family members the best potential.

Is your city on the list, or is time to make a move? Read on to find out.

Study Methodology

As one of the largest states in the nation, both in size and population, Texas holds an overwhelming number of choices. We’ve helped narrow down that list by finding the 10 best large cities for raising a family. We rated Texas cities on each of the following factors:

  1. Education
  2. Commute Time
  3. Household Type
  4. Residency
  5. Housing Costs

What’s usually the top concern of parents when they’re looking for a new place to live? They want to know about the quality of education. For that reason, we first looked at the percentage of residents with a high school degree or higher.

Even with the best schools, you don’t want to have to run out the door before Junior goes to the bus stop. We’ve found cities with centrally located employers and manageable commute times.

Kids need other kids to play with, so we also considered the percentage of families with children under 18. But will those kids stick around? The percentage of people living in the same residence for one year or longer is another key factor for deciding where to put your family roots.

Finally, we considered the cost of living through that biggest of budget busters — housing. We’ve found the best places that aren’t cost prohibitive for young families by factoring in the percentage of income residents spend on their homes.

Top 10 Cities in Texas to Raise a Family

10. Killeen

  • Residents with high school degree: 90.9%
  • Average commute time: 19.7 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 41.5%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 69.7%
  • Income for housing: 25.3%

With an impressive percentage of residents with at least a high school degree, Killeen offers a promising education for your youngsters through an amazing number of schools. In fact, there are five specialized high school campuses. The town did have a low percentage of families in the same house as last year, but that is most likely due to the prominence of Fort Hood and the corresponding military families. Other major employers include First National Bank and Sallie Mae. To be totally honest, though, Killeen was also rated as the #1 most stressful city in Texas.

Did you know? Killeen is home to the Vive Les Arts Theatre, which not only produces large-scale shows but also has a Children’s Theatre for your family to enjoy.

9. Wichita Falls

  • Residents with high school degree: 83.9%
  • Average commute time: 14.7 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 30.1%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 77.3%
  • Income for housing: 20.7%

Not only does Wichita Falls have scenic waterfalls to explore, the city also ranked best on our list for shortest commute time, clocking in under 15 minutes. The military, education and health care industries comprise the city’s major economic drivers, offering a broad range of employment options. Wichita Falls also provides several opportunities for outdoor-enthusiast families: it’s home to Lucy Park, which includes a duck pond, pool, Frisbee golf course and stunning waterfall views.

Did you know? Wichita Falls’ River Bend Nature Center is full of fun exhibits, and your kids will jump at the chance to pet live snakes, turtles and more.

8. Carrollton

  • Residents with high school degree: 85.3%
  • Average commute time: 24 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 37.6%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 83.5%
  • Income for housing: 21.9%

Carrollton families tend to stick around, with over 83% of residents living in the same house as last year. A suburb of Dallas, Carrollton itself is home to a number of corporate headquarters, such as Heelys, Motel 6 and Woot.com. If you have younger kids, check out Sandy Lake Amusement Park for classic rides like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Merry-Go-Round and the Scrambler.

Did you know? Carrollton also consistently ranks as one of the safest cities in Texas, so you can spend less time worrying about your family if you live here.

7. Amarillo

  • Residents with high school degree: 82.7%
  • Average commute time: 17.3 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 31.1%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 80.6%
  • Income for housing: 20.3%

Amarillo ranks decently in all categories, making it a well-rounded option for families. Even better, the city has plenty of family-friendly attractions, including a public skate park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Wonderland Amusement Park. Do you have a burgeoning sports enthusiast in the family? Take him or her to an Amarillo Bulls hockey game or Amarillo Venom football game at the local Civic Center.

Did you know? You and your family can tap into your inner Texan at Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West, where you can go horseback riding on trails and watch some real cowboys in action.

6. Round Rock

  • Residents with high school degree: 90.7%
  • Average commute time: 23.9 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 42.5%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 76.7%
  • Income for housing: 22.1%

If you’re looking for a great city in the Austin area, look no further than Round Rock. Ranking well across all our categories, Round Rock is known for its good schools and strong local economy, including its status as the international headquarters for Dell. You’ll also save some bucks and have some fun when you shop at the Round Rock Premium Outlets.

Did you know? Round Rock is literally named after a round rock found in Brushy Creek. Take your kids to Chisholm Trail to see who can find it first.

5. McKinney

  • Residents with high school degree: 92%
  • Average commute time: 28.3 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 48.3%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 84.1%
  • Income for housing: 22.7%

McKinney is a great place for families that like to socialize, with over 48% of the population having kids under 18. With a charming Main Street to stroll down and plenty of parks and golf courses, it’s no surprise why families settle down here. The city even has two nationally ranked high schools.

Did you know? The McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a smartphone app that even residents would like; it provides updates about the city’s latest happenings.

4. Odessa

  • Residents with high school degree: 75.7%
  • Average commute time: 17.8 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 34.4%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 81.6%
  • Income for housing: 17.7%

If you’re looking for good financial value in a city, then consider Odessa, where only an average of 17.7% of income is spent on housing. Join in the city’s high school football frenzy and attend a game at Ratcliff Stadium, which was used in the movie Friday Night Lights. For the history buff in your family, learn about American civics by visiting the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library.

Did you know? Odessa has a number of unique attractions, including the Odessa Meteor Crater and a replica of Stonehenge at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

3. Midland

  • Residents with high school degree: 83%
  • Average commute time: 17.4 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 34.4%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 82.5%
  • Income for housing: 19%

With just over 17 minutes as the average commute time, Midland is located in oil country, with much of the local economy dependent upon extraction and exploration. The city also has some national pride by being known as former First Lady Laura Bush’s hometown. There are many family attractions, too. If the Texas night sky piques the interest of your kids, try taking them to the Blakemore Planetarium for a dome show.

Did you know? Your future firefighters can explore two of Midland’s first fire trucks for free at the Central Fire Station building.

2. Frisco

  • Residents with high school degree: 95.9%
  • Average commute time: 27.8 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 50.7%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 83.4%
  • Income for housing: 20.5%

Frisco fits right in at the top of our list: out of our top 10, this Dallas suburb scored highest for both high school degrees and families with children. What else does Frisco have to offer? It is the future home to the Dallas Cowboys’ corporate headquarters, and counts T-Mobile as a major employer. You’ll also want to check out a minor league baseball game at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark.

Did you know? Frisco is home to the Texas Sculpture Garden, an elaborate collection of local artistry right in an office park.

1. Plano

  • Residents with high school degree: 92.9%
  • Average commute time: 25.6 minutes
  • Families with children under 18: 37.4%
  • Families living in the same house as last year: 86.5%
  • Income for housing: 20.2%

Over 86% of Plano residents live in the same house as last year and it’s clear why: it has a ton of major corporate headquarters, like Cinemark Theaters, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Frito-Lay and Toyota Motors USA; it is part of Dallas’s public transportation system; and it has a strong public education system. The historic downtown area complements the city’s more modern attractions, like Kid Mania, the Angelika Film Center and the Indoor Safari Park. What more could your family ask for?

Did you know? You have plenty of options to train your future Olympians in gymnastics when you live in Plano – it’s actually nicknamed the Gymnastics Capital of the World.


Texas is home to an iconic piece of American culture, and it’s a wonderful place to raise proud and intelligent children with plenty of whimsy to boot (no cowboy pun intended). While our list is certainly not exhaustive, it does provide a sound starting point for anyone hoping to settle down in the Lone Star State.

Top 10 Cities for Families in Texas

RankCity% High School Graduate or HigherAverage Commute TimeHousehold with ChildrenResiding in Same House Last YearIncome Spent on Housing
1Plano92.9%25.637.4%86.5%20.2%
2Frisco95.9%27.850.7%83.4%20.5%
3Midland83.0%17.434.4%82.5%19%
4Odessa75.7%17.834.4%81.6%17.7%
5McKinney92.0%28.348.3%84.1%22.7%
6Round Rock90.7%23.942.5%76.7%22.1%
7Amarillo82.7%17.331.1%80.6%20.3%
8Carrollton85.3%2437.6%83.5%21.9%
9Wichita Falls83.9%14.730.1%77.3%20.7%
10Killeen90.9%19.741.5%69.7%25.3%

Lauren Ward is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Lauren Ward at lauren@creditdonkey.com

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