2017 Best Places to Buy a Forever Home

Texas is the place to go if you’re looking to settle in for the long haul.

GoodCall® analysts crunched several metrics from 509 cities nationwide to determine the Best Places to Buy a Forever Home. Six of the top 10 are cities in the Lone Star State.

California and Colorado also had several cities near the top.

High-ranking cities are those that generally are affordable with growing home values, growing population, low unemployment and crime rates, and an educated populace.

Most of the cities in the top 10 are suburbs within 30 miles of large metro areas such as Dallas, Houston, and Denver. Higher-ranked cities tend to be smaller – all of the top 10 cities have between 70,000 and 155,000 residents.

The top 10 places for a forever home:

  1. The Woodlands, Texas

The Woodlands is a planned community is eastern Texas, established in 1974 by oil industry investor George Mitchell. He envisioned The Woodlands as a suburban area outside of Houston that would offer a high quality of life with both affordable and luxury housing. It’s fair to say, more than 30 years later, that vision is realized. The town of about 119,000 people has the second-lowest crime rate in the country (just 5.6 crimes per 1,000 residents) and is growing rapidly – about 23% since 2010. Amenities in the area include dozens of shops and restaurants, a public waterway, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, which draws the Houston Symphony and many other acts. It also ranks in the top 5% of cities for education rates, home value, and employment.

  1. Centennial, Colo.

Safety is a key factor in choosing where to set down long-term roots, and Centennial frequently has been ranked the safest city in Colorado and was 19th among the 509 cities studied by GoodCall. The city was incorporated in 2001, and at the time it was the largest incorporation in U.S. history. Since then, the city has grown and grown up. It now boasts the 11-acre, award-winning Centennial Center Park, which has water features, an amphitheater, climbing walls, and picnic shelters, among other amenities. And it’s a city that values education. More than 97% of residents have at least a high school diploma (the sixth highest rate in the country), and 55.6% have at least a bachelor’s degree. Centennial also ranks near the top in its unemployment rate and growth in home value.

  1. Frisco, Texas

Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, is a fast-growing area with rising home values. It was the 3rd fastest growing city from 2010 to 2015, and it’s easy to see why. The city is home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters and training center, the FC Dallas soccer team, the Frisco RoughRiders Class AA baseball team, the Dallas Stars NHL team, and the Texas Legends, a D-League affiliate of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. There are also several arts and culture venues, including Black Box Theatre, Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Texas Sculpture Garden, and several painting and crafts studios. And the abundance of parks – for young athletes, dogs, or just a nice stroll – makes it a great place to enjoy the generally pleasant weather. Average highs range from the low 50s in winter to the mid-90s in summer. It’s no wonder home values climbed nearly 40% following the recession.

  1. Allen, Texas

Although the town northeast of Dallas was first established as a stop on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in the mid-1800s, it wasn’t incorporated until 1953 with just a few hundred residents. Since then, its population has boomed to more than 98,000 people. The city has more than 50 hiking and bike trails and more than two dozen recreation centers and parks, so it’s a great place for families who love the outdoors. And parents will feel safe carting the little ones around; Allen has the 10th best crime rate in the country. It’s an atmosphere that has inspired growth – both in the population as well as home values, which have climbed 33% to a median of nearly $263,000.

  1. Richardson, Texas

Richardson is simply an all-around great place; it ranks in the top 20% of cities in all six metrics measured by GoodCall® analysts and in the top 10% for four of them. It sits immediately adjacent to Dallas and benefits from the metro region’s strong economy. Richardson is home to the so-called Telecom Corridor, named for its abundance of telecommunications offices and headquarters, including AT&T, Fujitsu, Cisco Systems, Samsung Mobile, Verizon Business, CommScope, and MetroPCS, among others. The University of Texas at Dallas is also located in town, perhaps one explanation for the high percentage of college-educated residents (more than 53% have a bachelor’s degree or higher). All that, combined with one of the country’s lowest affordability rates – homeownership costs about 16% of annual household income – make Richardson a thriving place to settle down.

  1. Edmond, Okla.

Edmond is another city that fares well across the board, ranking in the top 20% in all metrics. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the city sprang up virtually overnight in 1889 after the Santa Fe rail line established a station, named for freight agent Edmond Burdick (hence the town’s name). Edmond was the site of the state’s first public schoolhouse, and education continues to be a priority. More than 95% of residents have a high school diploma and 52.5% have at least a bachelor’s degree; both metrics are in the top 10% in the country. The University of Central Oklahoma was founded there in 1890. It was also the site of the state’s first church building. The area’s many parks and well-performing schools add to its strong status as a great place to live.

  1. Flower Mound, Texas

If the alluring name of this Texas city northwest of Dallas isn’t enough to draw you in, perhaps its remarkable crime rate will. With just 7.6 incidents per 1,000 residents, Flower Mound’s crime rate is 3rd lowest in the country. It sits adjacent to Grapevine Lake, which is a huge draw for those who love the outdoors. The lake has three marinas, including Twin Coves in Flower Mound, several boat ramps, 30 miles of trails, and primitive and RV camping sites. The town incorporated in 1961 to avoid being annexed. The name comes from a 12-acre hill covered with dozens of varieties of flowers during the blooming season. The area has great schools, and its populace shows it: more than 97% of residents have a high school diploma, and 65% have at least a bachelor’s degree.

  1. Sugar Land, Texas

The suburb southwest of Houston was originally created as a company-owned town for Imperial Sugar in the early 1900s. The company town was basically self-contained, with housing, shops, schools, and a hospital, until it was incorporated in 1959. Sugar Land ranks well as an affordable city: homeowner costs account for about 15% of annual household income. Schools in the area are generally very good, and nearly 60% of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. The city also has 13 master-planned communities, a big draw for many families seeking stability and quality. Despite its growth, the area’s history as a company town remains present: The city’s seal features the crown from the Imperial Sugar logo.

  1. Mountain View, Calif.

If you’re fortunate enough to afford it, Mountain View is a great place to put down roots. The weather is beautiful – average highs range from upper 50s in winter to the upper 70s in summer. The views of the Santa Cruz Mountains are spectacular. It’s no wonder home values are on the rise: following the recession, home values climbed 44% to almost $1.15 million. Luckily, notable employers include Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Mozilla, Symantec, and Intuit – they contribute to a median household income of $120,000, more than double the national median. The hub of technology giants is a far cry from the city’s origins as a stagecoach stop. From the mid-1800s until the middle of the 20th century, the local economy was driven by agriculture. Today, it’s a city that thrives on technology, innovation, and education; nearly 66% of its residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.

  1. Fargo, N.D.

Though the weather in Fargo is far less mild than the Texas and California cities in the top 10, the city stands out for its affordability and remarkably low unemployment rate. And the cold hasn’t scared others away: the population grew 11% from 2010 to 2015 to more than 119,000. The city also has the culture of a college town (thanks to North Dakota State University and others) with several theater groups, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, and the Fargo-Moorhead Ballet, as well as several museums. The city began as an early stop on the Red River for steamboats passing through, and after the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, it became one of several cities with the nickname “Gateway to the West.” Today, Fargo remains a transportation hub for the region at the intersection of two major interstate highways and home to an international airport.

 

View the full rankings here.
 

 

Methodology

GoodCall analysts reviewed and weighted six metrics that indicate areas where families can happily put down roots for life. Data considered were:

  • Affordability, the median selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of household income in the past 12 months from the American Community Survey 2015, accounted for 10% of a city’s total score.
  • Net Migration made up 10% of the score. This metric is the percentage population change between 2010 and 2015 the American Community Survey.
  • Unemployment, taken from the 2015 American Community Survey, was 10% of the score.
  • Home Value Recession Recovery, calculated as the change in median home value between 2009 and 2015, made up 30%.
  • The crime rate, expressed as incidents per 1,000 residents from FBI 2015 crime data, was 10% of the score. Analysts used data from the Metropolitan Statistical Area if city data was not available.
  • Educational Attainment made up 30% of the final score. Data from the American Community Survey showed the percentage of residents age 25 and older with a bachelors or higher (which was 10%) and those age 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher (which was 20%).

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