Mansfield has earned a spot on Money Magazine’s annual list of Best Places to Live in America for the fourth time, earning praise for its expanding park system, strong economy, highly rated schools and rural vibe, the magazine and city announced Monday.
The rank of 17th on the list of 50 cities is Mansfield’s highest to date, and it’s the second listing since the city ascended to the heavyweight division, competing against cities with populations of 50,000 to 300,000 people. Mansfield’s last showing was at 30th in 2012, when the magazine was rating the top 100 places.
Mansfield leaders said the rankings shine light on qualities that help them market Mansfield to high-value commercial and residential developers.
“It certainly gives us a head start on other communities when Money Magazine is recognizing us as a destination city to move to and raise your family,” said homegrown Mansfield resident and Mayor David Cook. “This is affirmation for the city that other folks recognize the quality of life that we offer in our city.”
Mansfield first appeared on the list in 2007, at 83rd out of 100, repeating in 2009 at 24th of 100. Both were in the smaller-city category.
Money Magazine evaluates all 781 U.S. cities in the larger population category in even-numbered years and the smaller city category in alternate years. The magazine gives points for strong economic and job opportunities, housing affordability, education, crime, health, arts and leisure, ease of living and diversity.
After winnowing the list, Money sends reporters to personally visit the highest-ranked 35 cities to choose a top 10 that “not only look good on paper, but also have happy residents, manageable traffic, attractive parks and gathering places, plus intangibles like community spirit.”
Finally, the top 50 are limited to three places per state and one per county. Texas met its maximum, which included the overall No. 1 city of McKinney. Pflugerville, north of Austin, came in at No. 20
The critics found plenty to like about Mansfield.
“Though officially part of the expanding Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,” they said, “Mansfield still has the friendly feel of the wheat-farming community that was settled by pioneers in the 1850s. That makes it an appealing choice for Texas newcomers who want to be close to city jobs (downtown Fort Worth is 30 minutes away during rush hour) but drive home to small-town tranquility.”
It also cited the expanding Methodist Mansfield Medical Center and burgeoning healthcare industry, and 800 acres of parkland and trails “where workers can unwind.”
But the rating snubbed Mansfield’s “lackluster” historic downtown, saying it has “few big-name retailers.” However, acknowledging extensive, ongoing revitalization efforts, it added: “Fortunately, rehab plans are in the works.”
City spokeswoman Belinda Willis said that with all the things going on in Mansfield, it’s tempting to speculate about future ratings.
“There’s no telling where we’ll be in two years,” she said.