Plano beat out Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and even Austin to score a top spot on WalletHub’s study of the best places to live for families across the United States.
Out of 182 cities, Plano landed at No. 4, Fort Worth landed at No. 74, Grand Prairie at No. 51, and Dallas at No. 130.
“Plano has the highest number of pediatricians per capita and a high public hospital ranking,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub.
The large, upscale suburban enclave is also a place where Bank of America, Ericsson, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Hewlett Packard, Intuit, and McAfee have offices or headquarters.
“The school system quality here ranks 15th highest, and the city has the 5th highest high school graduation rate at 92.7%,” Gonzalez told Dallas Express.
The study further found that Plano has a low cost of living despite homes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Plano has a lower pedestrian fatality rate, a smaller number of driving fatalities per capita, and a lower crime rate,” Gonzalez said in an interview.
Compared to Dallas, Irving, and Arlington, Plano ranked highest in terms of housing affordability because the median annual family income is higher at more than $112,000 compared to Dallas where the income is less than $58,000.
In Dallas, the median home price is $188,100 compared to $177,500 in Irving, $170,700 in Arlington, and $320,100 in Plano.
“The median home price in Plano is less than three times the amount of the median family income,” Gonzalez said. “The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is less than 15% of the median annual family income. This makes the Plano housing market very affordable.”
Overall, the Dallas suburb has the third-highest share of two-parent families at 82%, a low separation and divorce rate at less than 16%, a small share of families living in poverty at less than 5%, and the fourth-lowest share of families receiving food stamps at less than 3%.
“Plano only ranked in the second half for family fun,” Gonzalez said. “However, it still has plenty of playgrounds, skate parks, parkland, and a high bike score.”
To keep up with Plano and score higher on the list, Dallas would need to improve its infrastructure, lower its crime rate, offer more support for parents and work on reducing its unemployment rate.
“The long commutes are one of the reasons Dallas ranked in the bottom half for raising a family,” Gonzalez said. “The city also has poor air quality, a large share of uninsured children at almost 15%, a high pedestrian fatality rate, and high crime rate. Other factors contributing to the ranking include the high child care costs, the small number of child day-care services per capita, and the low parental leave policy score.”
An estimated 15 universities are located within 50 miles of Grand Prairie, which is about an hour away from Plano, but it has high unemployment and a large amount of debt, according to the study.
“To improve its score, Grand Prairie would need to offer more attractions and increase its walkability and bike score,” Gonzalez said. “It would also need to have shorter commutes, better air quality, more access to healthy foods, more pediatricians, and a lower share of uninsured children.”
Other ways for Grand Prairie to improve its score is to lower infant mortality and the number of driving fatalities, increase the number of child day-care services and summer learning opportunities, and offer better policies for parental leave.
Arlington and Irving landed at No. 90 and No. 91, respectively.
“Irving and Arlington would need to offer more attractions and increase their bike scores,” Gonzalez added. “They would also need to improve air quality, have more accessible healthy foods, and have lower percentages of uninsured children. The two cities should also have lower child care costs, more child day-care services, and better parental leave policies.”