D Magazine ranked it's top 10 Dallas suburbs based on safety, education, housing values, and ambiance. The first three measures involve data and the objective analysis thereof; the fourth entails some subjectivity.
1. Parker, TxParker, Tx Population: 3,600
Parker, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 5.6%
Average Parker, Tx home sales price in 2009: $462,067
Median age of Parker, Tx residents: 40.8
Families with kids under 18: 30.2%
Median Parker, Tx household income: $101,786
Parker remains best known as the home of Southfork Ranch. Many people who move here do so because they have horses and/or crave some fresh air. Some are corporate executives who find mowing their own lawns cheaper than therapy. The town has many multiple-acre residences but most are on 1.5 to 2 acres. Residents accidentally leave their garage doors open (sometimes over a weeklong vacation) and come home to find things just as they left them. Homes prices average $408,217. Two new subdivisions are in the works, with 560 new homes combined.
2. Highland Village, TxHighland Village, Tx Population: 15,250
Highland Village, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 4%
Highland Village, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $278,411
Highland Village, Tx Median age of residents: 37.7
Families with kids under 18: 53.8%
Highland Village, Tx Median household income: $102,141
Not many Highland Village residents are from here; most have relocated, attracted by the low crime rate, exemplary schools, rolling hills, and, of course, Lake Lewisville. “I love to kayak and walk the nature trails with my dogs almost every day,” one resident says.
Houses here start at $150,000 and go up to several million, with the average at about $300,000. As in most Dallas suburbs, the population can be generalized as conservative, middle to upper class, family oriented, and mostly white. But nice and always neighborly.
3. Colleyville, TxColleyville, Tx Population: 22,950
Colleyville, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 3%
Colleyville, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $480,880
Colleyville, Tx Median age of residents: 40
Families with kids under 18: 49.8%
Colleyville, Tx Median household income: $117,419
A recent survey by the city found 96 percent of residents are satisfied with Colleyville’s quality of life, most enjoying the small-town environment, location, and low crime rate. The best parts of Colleyville are the mature trees that newer suburbs drool over, the “Colleywood” nickname (referring to the city’s wealth), and that it is close to DFW Airport yet out of its flight pattern.
4. Southlake, TxSouthlake, Tx Population: 26,900
Southlake, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 6.9%
Southlake, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $564,077
Southlake, Tx Median age of residents: 36.7
Southlake, Tx Families with kids under 18: 60.7%
Southlake, Tx Median household income: $131,549
People generally list two reasons for moving to Southlake: the schools and convenience to all things Dallas/Fort Worth, including the airport. This is a popular executive relocation town.
The schools are among the best around but highly competitive, which is trouble if you’re trying to get into a state university with the 10 percent rule. One parent’s son had a 93 average upon graduation and was not even in the top 50 percent of his class. Houses here start close to $400,000 and go up to $10 million, with most falling in the $500,000 to $750,000 range.
In the past decade, the Carroll Dragons have been state champions at girls golf, wrestling, boys track, girls soccer, girls cross-country, boys swimming, boys cross-country, football, boys golf, boys baseball, and boys soccer—oftentimes more than once.
5. Prosper, TxProsper, Tx Population: 9,350
Prosper, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 11.7%
Prosper, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $328,452
Prosper, Tx Median age of residents: 32.5
Families with kids under 18: 50.3 %
Prosper, Tx Median household income: $64,063
Residents move here primarily for the schools and the wide-open spaces. The town doesn’t have much (you’ll always see someone you know at Palio’s Pizza Cafe and Ernesto’s Mexican Restaurant), but residents seem content to drive to Frisco for more varied dining and shopping. In 2008, the Prosper Eagles beat the Celina Bobcats for the first time in 25 years, going on to win the Class 3A football state championship. They beat the Bobcats again last season. People talk about it like the birth of their first child. Even Prosper’s most famous resident, Deion Sanders, has been spotted at an Eagles game. Houses here start at $130,000 and go up to, well, keep reading. Average is in the $400,000s.
6. Highland Park, TxHighland Park, Tx Population: 8,650
Highland Park, Tx Annual growth since 1990: -0.1%
Highland Park, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $1,497,137
Median age of residents: 42
Highland Park, Tx Families with kids under 18: 33.4%
Highland Park, Tx Median household income: $149,380
Kids here have—wait for it, inner-city Dallasites—spontaneous play dates. They just run down the street, knocking on doors and looking in yards. Residents would like a gas station. And though the schools are the main draw—some residents decide they’re better off investing in a home than in a private-school education—they can also be a drawback. They are stressful (more because of overachieving parents than teachers), and students get to participate only in activities in which they excel. There’s not much dabbling in violin or tennis just for the heck of it. And the age-old Park Cities complaint: would a little diversity hurt anyone? Houses here start at $650,000 for a duplex and go up to $15 million, with the occasional $20 million-plus going on the market. The average home price is $1.2 million to $1.8 million.
7. University Park, TxUniversity Park, Tx Population: 23,500
University Park, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 0.3%
University Park, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $1,058,523
Median age of residents: 31.2
University Park, Tx Families with kids under 18: 41.7%
University Park, Tx Median household income: $92,778
Residents tout their short walk to Snider Plaza, local parks, and response time for emergency services. But it’s the high-performing schools and sense of community that brought (and keeps) them here. “When something happens to somebody, you know you’re going to have a million people bringing you dinner, picking up your kids at school, going to the grocery store for you,” one resident says. All four elementary schools feed into one middle school and one high school, solidifying that community from an early age. UP residents also like that they get to live in a small town yet are close to all that Dallas has to offer.
8. Flower Mound, TxFlower Mound, Tx Population: 62,950
Flower Mound, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 7.2%
Flower Mound, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $280,996
Flower Mound, Tx Median age of residents: 33.3
Families with kids under 18: 57.3%
Flower Mound, Tx Median household income: $95,416
Flower Mound draws a similar homebuyer as Highland Village but one more enamored with an easy commute than a lovely view of the lake. Flower Mound is closer to the airport, closer to Las Colinas.
Homes start at $150,000 and go up to several million, with the average at about $350,000. Houses within the Tour 18 golf course gated community are upwards of $2 million.
Residents recently voted in a new mayor and Town Council members, frustrated over disagreements about gas drilling in the area. Flower Mound will take a Southlake-size step forward in community when its River Walk at Central Park is done (it’s been on hold for almost two years because of a developer bankruptcy and the economy). Billed as the city’s “21st century downtown,” the 158-acre development will have retail, residential, and office space. Regardless of whatever development comes to Flower Mound, however, almost 13 acres of the town’s original mound of wildflowers and native grasses remain protected by the Mound Foundation, an appreciated nod to the town’s heritage.
9. Murphy, TxMurphy, Tx Population: 13,700
Murphy, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 11.5%
Murphy, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $265,327
Murphy, Tx Median age of residents: 33.9
Families with kids under 18: 49.2%
Murphy, Tx Median household income: $83,547
Murphy draws those looking for a slower pace and more space than Plano, Frisco, and the like have to offer. Murphy has increased its commercial development faster than neighboring towns, whose residents appreciate the convenience of being close to a Home Depot and Chick-fil-A.
The town has a new City Hall, which was built in 2005, a new fire department building, and a 6-year-old $20 million high school football stadium that many residents enjoy (while others worry about the price tag). Houses here start at $168,000 and go up to $539,000, most falling in the $400,000 range.
Murphy scores best in education, for which it can thank Plano ISD (where most of its students attend). Nearby Lavon Lake, a 9,000-square-feet lot requirement, and the original First Baptist Church—built in 1900 and still in use—keep a bit of the town’s country feel even as the strip centers chip away at it.
10. Allen, Tx
Allen, Tx Population: 84,200Allen, Tx Annual growth since 1990: 7.6%
Allen, Tx Average home sales price in 2009: $231,095
Allen, Tx Median age of residents: 31.4
Families with kids under 18: 56.3%
Allen, Tx Median household income: $78,924
Two decades ago, people moved to Allen because it was a good place to raise a family. Back then, it had a Dairy Queen, Walmart, and a grocery store. In some ways, not much has changed. It is still touted by locals as one of the best places to grow up. But long-time residents might not recognize much else about their city. Residents love the Allen Eagle Escadrille (the high school band), award-winning library, parks, tree-lined medians, exemplary schools for all socioeconomic levels, quiet neighborhoods, and low crime rate. The east side of the city is older, with smaller, more affordable homes and a Braum’s. The west side is home to Allen Premium Outlets (the mother ship of upscale bargain hunters) and Allen’s own version of the West Village—Watters Creek, which is perhaps the loveliest suburban setting to shop at Origins or Ann Taylor Loft before enjoying the wine at Cru or Brooklyn-style pizza at Grimaldi’s. Allen homes start at $150,000 and go up to about $1.85 million.
Allen Eagles Stadium, set to open in the fall of 2012. When you’re making high school football headlines in Texas, you’re doing something.