Who would have thought that one of the top places to live in America is what used to be sleepy little Allen, Texas?
The people who live there, no doubt. But the small-but-growing town north of Dallas in Collin County was just named the second-best place to live in the U.S. by Money.
The move to urban centers by millenials and their parents is “driving a lot of people to look at the suburbs” to settle, realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale told Money. “It’s not only the price difference, but all the other things that you get for the money, like school quality.”
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So Money followed the trend to the burbs to compile its list.
“For this year’s Best Places to Live list, we chose to focus on towns with a population of 10,000 to 100,000, to avoid the biggest cities while shining a light on smaller towns and affordable suburbs,” it says on its website.
Money looked at job growth, cost of living, schools, affordable homes, crime, cultural and recreational resources, “and an overall sense of pleasantness.”
Among other things, Money cited Allen’s $1.6 billion of development in 2017; tech and cybersecurity companies committing to the area; a $91 million convention center and hotel complex due to open in 2018; plans for a 135-acre mixed-use development called the Strand bringing office space, retail outlets, residences, a greenbelt and waterway.
(Maybe Amazon should consider broadening its criteria for cities hoping to land its second headquarters — and accompanying $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs.)
The stats Money cited for Allen (pop. 96,000):
- Median home price: $323,676
- Projected job growth: 17 percent
- Median household income: $104,524
- Clear days per year: 232
- Average commute time: 29 minutes
- High school graduation rate: 96.9 percent
As for the amenities, you can catch hockey, football, soccer, rodeo, concerts and other events at the Allen Event Center. There’s a Top Golf, Watters Creek golf course and Watters Creek mall, an indoor water park with a rock-climbing wall, one of the largest skate parks in Texas, and of course, there’s that $60 million-plus monument to Texas high school football, Allen Eagle Stadium, and “a global cornucopia of grub,” according to the convention and visitor’s bureau.
So what city was named No. 1?
Fishers, Ind., a town of 86,000 northeast of Indianapolis whose leaders have emphasized creating and inviting more jobs, redeveloped the downtown area, preserved green space and created parks and 104 miles of nature and multiuse trails. The Nickel Plate District Amphitheater hosts concerts and movies, festivals and the Fishers Farmers Market.
Grapevine (“a historic atmosphere and economic engine all its own”) and Wylie cracked the top 20 in this year’s list, at No. 19 and 20, respectively, and Bedford came in at No. 23 (“the arts scene is rich here”).
Earlier this year, Fort Worth made the top five of Money’s “Best U.S. Destinations” list and last year the magazine named Arlington one of the six best cities in the United States to enjoy urban living “at a price you can afford.”