Small city, big reputation

This Austin suburb parks top spot on list of America's best small cities

Austin suburb parks top spot on list of America's best small cities

Cedar Park sunset
Hooray for Cedar Park. cedarparkfun/Instagram

It's not just Austin proper that is garnering national attention — the spotlight's on Central Texas' suburbs, too.

On October 28, personal finance website WalletHub ranked Cedar Park the 10th best small city in the U.S. Only one other Texas city appeared in the top 20: Southlake, at No. 14. Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, sits at No. 1.

To compile this list, WalletHub sifted through 42 sets of data for more than 1,200 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000. Among the rating factors for livability were housing costs, quality of public schools, and restaurants per capita.

Cedar Park’s two biggest calling cards are its economic health, ranked No. 3 by WalletHub, and affordability, ranked No. 49. However, it falls short in safety (No. 284), education and health (No. 369), and quality of life (No. 393).

2019 survey of 440 Cedar Park households found that compared with hundreds of cities nationwide, the suburb ranked 68th for overall quality of life and 36th for being a good place to raise children. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed rated Cedar Park’s quality of life as good or excellent, while 96 percent lauded the city as a good place to raise children.

RealPage, a provider of real estate software and data analytics, notes that Cedar Park “boasts plentiful park systems, prime shopping destinations, and top-ranked public schools.”

In the last decade, Cedar Park has seen quite the population boom. In July 2018, the Census Bureau counted 76,999 residents in the Williamson County suburb, up 39.7 percent from April 2010. It’s now the third largest city in the Austin metro area.

Southlake, a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, stood out in two areas: economic health (No. 7) and affordability (No. 7). In the three other general buckets, Southlake didn’t fare as well in the WalletHub ranking: safety, No. 229; education and health, No. 475; quality of life, No. 554.

Whatever its drawbacks may be, Niche.com, a provider of quality-of-life data, describes Southlake as offering a “rural feel” in one of the best places to live in Texas. This desirable setting has drawn thousands of new residents in recent years. As of July 2018, Southlake’s estimated population stood at 32,269, up 21.4 percent from April 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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