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Texans still looking for the best place to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without breaking their banks might want to head to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Three DFW cities rank highly on a new list of the best places to go for Thanksgiving, while Austin lands in the top third.

The study, published by WalletHub, compares the top 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics, including the cost of Thanksgiving dinner, number of delayed flights, and even forecast precipitation.

Atlanta, Georgia ranks No. 1 on the list, with Orlando, Florida; Las Vega, Nevada; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Gilbert, Arizona rounding out the top five.

The top-scoring Texas destinations are Plano (No. 7), Irving (No. 9), and Dallas (No. 13). The other cities around Texas to make the list are:

  • Garland (No. 24)
  • Corpus Christi (No. 25)
  • Laredo (No. 31)
  • San Antonio (No. 32)
  • Austin (No. 33)
  • Arlington (No. 44)
  • Houston (No. 53)
  • El Paso (No. 64)
  • Fort Worth (No. 84)
  • Lubbock (No. 85)

The average American spends about $301 during the five-day Thanksgiving period, according to a list of Thanksgiving fun facts compiled by WalletHub. Annually, Americans as a whole spend an estimated $835 million on Thanksgiving turkeys, with 46 million turkeys killed for the holiday.

In addition to the cities’ overall ranking, WalletHub revealed the cities’ rankings for the individual categories they were evaluated by. Five of those categories include Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions, Affordability, Safety and Accessibility, Giving Thanks, and Thanksgiving Weather Forecast.

Surely the big Cowboys game with Jonas Brothers' halftime show factors into the DFW "celebrations and traditions" score, right?

Dallas and Irving are tied at No. 4 on the list for having the best Thanksgiving Weather Forecast (which calls for a high of 61 this year, according to WFAA).

Other Dallas rankings include:

  • No. 13 for Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions
  • No. 18 for Affordability
  • No. 93 for Safety and Accessibility
  • No. 37 for Giving Thanks

No. 32-ranking San Antonio has these rankings on the list:

  • No. 46 for Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions
  • No. 2 for Affordability
  • No. 66 for Safety and Accessibility
  • No. 85 for Giving Thanks
  • No. 26 for Thanksgiving Weather Forecast

No. 33-ranking Austin was pretty average in each category:

  • No. 41 for Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions
  • No. 19 for Affordability
  • No. 42 for Safety and Accessibility
  • No. 82 for Giving Thanks
  • No. 36 for Thanksgiving Weather Forecast.

Houston ranked in the top 10 for Affordability but didn’t score highly in any other category:

  • No. 48 for Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions
  • No. 7 for Affordability
  • No. 88 for Safety and Accessibility
  • No. 58 for Giving Thanks
  • No. 43 for Thanksgiving Weather Forecast.

Fort Worth was in the top 5 for weather but hit the bottom 10 for safety:

  • No. 87 for Thanksgiving Celebrations and Traditions
  • No. 31 for Affordability
  • No. 95 for Safety and Accessibility
  • No. 52 for Giving Thanks
  • No. 4 for Thanksgiving Weather Forecast.

You can view the full list and find more information about the 100 best U.S. places for Thanksgiving here.

This Austin suburb is Texas' No. 1 small city to start a business

Best for business

When it comes to launching a business in Central Texas, Austin understandably draws the bulk of the attention. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t overlook one Austin suburb.

Personal finance website WalletHub ranks Georgetown as the best small city in Texas for starting a business. The website classifies a small city as one with a population of 25,000 to 100,000.

To determine the best small cities for startups, WalletHub compared the business-friendly nature of more than 1,300 small cities across the country. Among the factors it examined were average growth in number of businesses, labor costs, and investor access.

Georgetown appears at No. 70 on the list overall, and No. 1 in Texas. It scored particularly well in the access to resources category (No. 26) and business environment category (No. 31).

Washington, Utah, nabbed the top spot nationally.

Georgetown, the county seat of Williamson County, remains one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Its population jumped 42 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Size matters when choosing a city in which to launch a startup. As many veteran entrepreneurs — and failed startups — understand well, bigger is not always better,” WalletHub says. “A city with a smaller population can offer a greater chance of success, depending on an entrepreneur’s type of business and personal preferences.”

Elsewhere in the Austin metro area, Pflugerville lands at No. 150 nationally in the WalletHub rankings; San Marcos, No. 181; Leander, No. 250; Kyle, No. 258; and Cedar Park, No. 280.

Other highly ranked cities in Texas include:

  • Farmers Branch (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 102
  • West Odessa, No. 193
  • Texas City (Houston), No. 202
  • Baytown (Houston), No. 267
  • Greenville (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 275
  • Waxahachie (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 306
  • Huntsville, No. 308
  • Hurst (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 312
  • Socorro (El Paso), No. 339
  • Deer Park (Houston), No. 362
  • Sherman, No. 368
  • Conroe (Houston), No. 369
  • Seguin (San Antonio), No. 375

Baytown, Port Arthur, and Texas City tied for first place in the U.S. in terms of highest average revenue per business.

Photo by Maskot/Getty

Texas punches in as one of best states for working from home, says study

Remote possibilities

The meaning of “going to work” is swiftly changing. The Ladders career platform forecasts that one-fourth of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022.

“This change in working arrangements is impossible to overhype. As big as it is, it’s even bigger than people think,” Marc Cenedella, CEO of The Ladders, said in December. “Hiring practices typically move at a glacial pace, but the pandemic turned up the heat so we’re seeing a rapid flood of change in this space. It’s really rather amazing.”

Given the dramatic shift in what it means to go to work, some folks with remote jobs may be wondering where they should live. It turns out that Texas sits at No. 7 on a new list from personal finance website WalletHub of the best states for working from home. So, if you hold a remote job and already call Texas home, you might just want to stay put.

To identify which places are best for working from home, WalletHub compared 12 key metrics for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Those metrics include the cost of internet service and the size of a typical home. “Together, these metrics show how feasible working from home is in terms of cost, comfort, and safety,” WalletHub says.

Here’s how Texas fares in six categories, with a No. 1 position being best and a No. 25 position being average:

  • No. 1 for average square footage of homes.
  • No. 2 for cost of internet service.
  • No. 19 for share of potential telecommuters.
  • No. 25 for average price of electricity.
  • No. 25 for share of population working from home.
  • No. 29 for household internet access.

New Jersey grabs the No. 1 spot on the list, and Alaska ranks last.

“I believe that working from home will need to become a more viable option for many industries, regardless of the pandemic status, as we continue to see increasing fuel prices,” Sean Walker, professor of behavioral management in the College of Business and Global Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin, tells WalletHub.

Courtesy photo

See where Austin weighs in among the fattest metros in the nation

Weight watching

Here’s the skinny on obesity in the Austin metro area: Despite being named among the most physically active cities in the U.S., the region appears at No. 54 in a new ranking of the fattest places in the country.

Personal finance website WalletHub just released its 2022 ranking of the country’s fattest places. The website compared 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas across 19 key indicators of weight-related problems. The ranking factors include the percentage of physically inactive adults, projected obesity rates by 2030, and access to healthy food.

Based on those indicators, Austin ranks 54th, making it the sixth-fattest major metro in Texas. The McAllen area ranks first in the U.S. and, therefore, in Texas.

Austin shows up at No. 26 in the study’s “obesity and overweight” category, No. 74 in the “health consequences” category, and No. 85 in the “food and fitness” category. (Higher numbers are better than lower numbers.)

The WalletHub-declared fattest metro, McAllen, fares poorly when it comes to many of the individual ranking factors. For instance, it’s got the highest percentage of obese adults and the highest percentage of physically inactive adults, and it ranks fourth for the percentage of diabetic adults.

“There are lots of ideas for policies to combat obesity. So far, most programs have not achieved the gains they have aimed for. Instead, obesity continues to rise,” Kathleen Davis, assistant professor of nutrition and food sciences at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, tells WalletHub.

Here’s how the other major metros in Texas rank in the WalletHub study:

  • San Antonio, No. 25
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, No. 27
  • El Paso, No. 30
  • Houston, No. 36

Austin is all smiles with new ranking as one of the happiest cities in Texas and the U.S.

Come on get happy!

When you smile in Austin, the whole world smiles with you. So maybe the Capital City needs another motto: The Smile Capital of the World.

That’s the idea behind a new study from personal finance website WalletHub that ranks Austin among the happiest places in Texas and the U.S.

The study puts Austin at No. 2 in Texas and No. 30 in the country in terms of the happiest locales.

To come up with the ranking, WalletHub looked at more than key indicators of happiness for 182 of the largest U.S. cities. Among the factors were depression rate, suicide rate, sports participation rate, separation and divorce rate, and hours worked per day.

WalletHub then placed those numbers into three buckets. Here’s how Austin ranked in that regard:

  • 109th in the community and environment category.
  • 35th in the physical and emotional well-being category.
  • Fifth in the income and employment category.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a third of Americans to be so stressed that they sometimes find it hard to make basic decisions. Therefore, it’s vital for people to boost their happiness however they can, whether through family, friends, activities, entertainment, or work,” WalletHub says. “What people might not realize is that where they live may also determine how happy they are.”

So, what’s the happiest city in the U.S.? According to WalletHub, it’s Fremont, California, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. And the unhappiest? WalletHub hands that dubious distinction to Detroit.

Here’s how Texas cities in the study are ranked:

  • Austin, No. 30
  • Grand Prairie, No. 83
  • Irving, No. 89
  • Garland, No. 97
  • Fort Worth, No. 103
  • Arlington, No. 107
  • Dallas, No. 111
  • Houston, No. 112
  • Laredo, No. 115
  • El Paso, No. 120
  • Brownsville, No. 125
  • San Antonio, No. 130
  • Corpus Christi, No. 139
  • Amarillo, No. 143
  • Lubbock, No. 157

These Austin suburbs charge ahead with some of the highest credit scores in Texas

Scoring high

Give the residents of Georgetown and Cedar Park some credit. They’re able to brag about achieving some of the highest credit scores in Texas.

A new study from personal finance website WalletHub shows the median credit score of a Georgetown resident is 749. Among the 2,572 U.S. cities covered in the study, Georgetown nabs a 446th-place tie for cities with the highest median credit score.

Meanwhile, the median credit score of a Cedar Park resident is 743, which ties for 568th nationally.

FICO, the primary producer of credit scores in the U.S., characterizes 743 and 749 as a “very good” credit scores. On the FICO scale, credit scores range from 300 to 850. A credit score anywhere from 740 to 799 is above the U.S. average “and demonstrates to lenders that the borrower is very dependable,” according to FICO.

WalletHub based the study on September 2021 data from TransUnion, one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus. In the study, The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, is the only city where the median credit score is above 800 — 806, to be exact.

Here are the other cities in the top 15 statewide:

  • Colleyville (Dallas-Fort Worth), 777, 23rd nationally.
  • Flower Mound, 762, tied for 185th place nationally.
  • Coppell (Dallas-Fort Worth), 758, tied for 262nd place nationally.
  • The Woodlands (Houston), 757, tied for 287th nationally.
  • Keller (Dallas-Fort Worth), 756, tied for 300th nationally.
  • Allen (Dallas-Fort Worth), 750, tied for 428th nationally.
  • Frisco (Dallas-Fort Worth), 748, tied for 467th nationally.
  • Boerne (San Antonio), 743, tied for 568th nationally.
  • Plano (Dallas-Fort Worth), 740, tied for 629th nationally.
  • Helotes (San Antonio), 739, tied for 659th nationally.
  • Montgomery (Houston), 738, tied for 681st nationally.
  • Friendswood (Houston), 732, tied for 784th nationally.
  • Rockwall (Dallas-Fort Worth), 732, tied for 784th nationally.

Among Texas’ biggest cities, Austin is the only one where the median credit score exceeds 700. In the Capital City, the median score is 713, tied for 1,208th nationally. San Antonio is next in line, at 664 (tied for 2,236th nationally), followed by Houston (662, tied for 2281st nationally), Dallas (661, tied for 2,299th nationally), and Fort Worth (615.5, tied for 2,545th nationally).

The only Texas city with a median credit score below 600 is Sugar Land, a Houston suburb. According to the study, the median score there is 571, putting it in 2,563rd place nationally. FICO identifies that as a “poor” credit score.

J. Keith Baker, a CPA and certified financial planner who teaches at Dallas College’s North Lake campus in Irving, tells WalletHub that the best way to improve or maintain your credit score is to pay your credit card balances in full every month.

“Some folks will close a credit card account thinking it will help them manage their spending and protect them from identity theft since they are not using an account,” Baker says. “While this may make sense for an individual’s financial situation, do not assume it will automatically improve your credit scores.”

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H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.