A new ranking of the nation's best big cities puts Austin — and several of its Lone Star neighbors — at the top of the list. The Best Cities ranking, courtesy of consulting firm Resonance, names Austin the No. 14 best large city in America, with Houston and Dallas at Nos. 7 and 12, respectively. Meanwhile, our nearby neighbor San Antonio ranks No. 20.
The company, which deals in real estate, tourism, and economic development, ranked the best large cities in America — and the world — using cities with metro populations of a million people or more to delineate between large and small.
Researchers examined six factors: place, product, programming, people, prosperity, and promotion of a town. A city’s performance across these six categories reflects the relative "place equity" and competitive identity of one city to the next, according to the report.
At No. 14, Austin is hailed as the "rebellious Texas city — forged with the Longhorn State’s can-do persistence cut with a university town’s political activism and social diversity." Little surprise that the Capital City scores well for nightlife — No. 12 in the nation for big cities — and that Sixth and Rainey streets are singled out for their scenes.
Austin’s reputation as an innovation hub is highlighted with mentions of organically grown South by Southwest, as well as the "Silicon Hills" campus additions by Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Dell, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard. Arguably America’s most understated boom town, Austin ranks No. 5 overall in prosperity, with America’s lowest unemployment rate and the seventh highest median household income among large cities.
With its influx of international immigration in the past decade, "explosive population growth," and the more than 145 different languages spoken there, Houston is touted as "the American city of the future." The report also recognizes Houston’s affordable housing (the average selling price of a home is $140,300 — compared to $222,300 in Atlanta and $257,800 in Austin), favorable zoning, and urban planning. The anticipated Texas bullet train, which will connect No. 7 Houston to No. 12 Dallas, also gets a nod in the report.
No. 12 Dallas earns a reputation as a corporate powerhouse, as the report notes that the metro area is home to more than 10,000 corporate headquarters, giving DFW the largest corporate head office concentration in the United States. Big D, where "big things happen," also gets high marks for the larger-than-life State Fair of Texas; diverse neighborhoods; a large LGBT population; and connectivity, a measure of direct flight access into a city’s principal airport.
Rounding out the Texas representation in the top 20 is San Antonio, hailed as "rich in distinctly Texan attractions," and "a place for all seasons (and reasons)." The River Walk anchors Alamo City's No. 7 ranking for attractions among America’s large cities. San Antonio also ranks an impressive No. 6 in the culinary subcategory and No. 20 for nightlife, "a tribute to the wealth of nocturnal options and to the city’s No. 11 finish for weather."