Living well

Historic Hill Country town drifts onto Money's Best Places to Live 2020

Hill Country town drifts onto Money's Best Places to Live 2020

new braunfels downtown
New Braunfels appears on Money's coveted list. Photo via areavibes.com

According to Money magazine, if you want to live the good life in the Texas Hill Country, you should head to New Braunfels. The San Antonio suburb made it onto Money's list of Best Places to Live in America 2020.

The Hill Country town appears at No. 25 in the rankings released September 22. The only other Texas city to appear on the list is the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, making its Money list debut at No. 4.

Money ranked communities based on factors such as safety, cost of living, and diversity. The publication analyzed a list of 1,890 communities with a population of at least 25,000. It also considered 115 separate data points on each community’s economy, housing market, education system, employment, weather, and more. The methodology accounted for countywide unemployment and housing distress as a result of COVID-19, factors and demographics to ensure this year’s list was racially diverse.

In New Braunfels, employment is projected to rise 17 percent by 2025. And while the city’s top employers are in the hospitality industry, "healthcare, construction and manufacturing boast a good share of jobs as well," Money says. It cites automotive company Continental, which will add another 130 jobs to the area in the coming years.

The magazine also touts the town's proximity to both San Antonio and Austin, as well as its affordable housing. "Home prices in the town sit in the mid-$200,000s. Over in Austin? You’ll pay more like $360,000," notes the report.

And, of course, recreation and entertainment are key to Hill Country life. In non-COVID times, New Braunfels welcomes 100,000 people each fall for Wurstfest, and in the summers, it's synonymous with floating the river, listening to live music at Gruene Hall, or making a splash at Schlitterbahn.

Rockwall also boasts strong employment opportunities. The North Texas city experienced 19 percent job growth over the past five years and is projected to grow another 17 percent in the next five. The city's recovery from pandemic-related job losses contributed to its ranking. The local unemployment rate was 7.2 percent compared to a national average of 11.1 percent, the magazine says.

"It’s not all work," Money says. "Rockwall’s super-walkable downtown district has a small-town vibe, with historic false-front buildings and a broad variety of locally owned shops and restaurants. In the summer and fall, live music events liven up San Jacinto Plaza, while the Rockwall Farmers’ Market attracts visitors from all over the Dallas metro area."

So, which U.S. cities landed at the top of Money's list? Evans, Georgia, came in at No. 1, ahead of Parker, Colorado (2), and Meridian, Idaho (3). Columbia, Maryland, rounds out the top five.

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A version of this story originally appeared on CandysDirt.com.