The lighter side of real estate

These Are America’s Best Suburbs

Looking to escape the big city? These 10 suburbs are great places to live without having to move too far.

Randy Nelson

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117 articles, 53 comments

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Every year, hundreds of thousands of home buyers are moving to the country’s most booming metropolitan areas. For those that don’t want to deal with the traffic and other hassles of big city living, there are the suburbs. These smaller cities and towns offer proximity to everything their larger neighbors have to offer, while oftentimes being safer and less crowded.

For those looking to move there—whether from out of the area or from the cities they border—the Movoto Real Estate Blog has put together this ranking of the 10 best suburbs in America, based on criteria including cost of living, education, and amenities. At the top of the list is Westerville, OH, a suburb of Columbus, OH. The rest of the list is comprised of cities in states including Texas, California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Tennessee:

1. Westerville, OH
2. Plano, TX
3. Georgetown, TX
4. Round Rock, TX
5. Cedar Park, TX
6. Cupertino, CA
7. Matthews, NC
8. Cornelius, NC
9. Newton, MA
10. Germantown, TN

To rank these cities, we relied on a set of criteria used to measure how safe, affordable, and—ultimately—livable they are. Before we talk a bit about each suburb, let’s look at how we decided which were the best.

How We Did It

We looked at the top 25 most populous cities in the country, then determined the three largest suburbs of each city for a total of 75 suburbs. Then, we ranked each suburb across several criteria, which included:

  • Amenities (shopping, dining, entertainment, etc.)
  • Cost of living (percent above or below national average)
  • Crime (percent above or below national average)
  • Education (student to teacher ratio compared to national average)
  • Employment (income and unemployment compared to national average)

Once we had that information—from sources including the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics—we were able to see how each city did in the individual criteria (on a scale of 1 to 75, with 1 being best) and also on average to give them an overall score.

Now that you know how we ranked the cities, let’s go into some more detail as to why they made our top 10.

1. Westerville, OH

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Flickr user Corey Seeman

A town of 36,120, Westerville—a suburb of Columbus, OH—is one of the safest of the 75 we surveyed for this ranking. Its crime rate of 1,690 per 100,000, put it at 46 percent below the national average (it’s 43 percent below the rest of Ohio).

The town also scored well in terms of available amenities, education (with one teacher for every 18 students), and median household income (at $80,205 it’s 59 percent above the average for Ohio). The cost of living in Westerville is also good at 1.8 percent below the national average, although it is 5 percent higher than the average for Ohio.

2. Plano, TX

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Flickr user Nicole C. Engard

As our best suburb in Texas—there are four in the top 10—Plano is also the largest city on our ranking at 269,776 residents. Despite that (much) larger population, the crime rate in this suburb of Dallas, TX is only 2,711 per 100,000 (combined violent and nonviolent), placing it 14 percent below the national average and 11 percent below the rest of Texas.

One of the nation’s preppiest cities, Plano has a high median income ($81,822, or 77.8 percent higher than the Texas average / 57.9 percent above the national average). Its cost of living, however, is also higher than the Texas average by 5.5 percent.

3. Georgetown, TX

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Flickr user jmtimages

This Austin, TX suburb is home to 47,400 Texans who enjoy its low crime rate and low cost of living. In terms of the former, there are 1,746 crimes there annually per 100,000 people, which is 45 percent below the national average (and 42 percent below the Texas average). For the latter, the cost of living there is 8.8 percent lower than the national average and only .4 percent higher than the average for the state.

Education in Georgetown is also highly rated, with a student to teacher ratio of 12 to 1. By comparison, the Texas average is 14 to 1 and the national average is 16 to 1. For some context, California suburbs generally placed very low in education and have class sizes of 20 to 1—or higher.

4. Round Rock, TX

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: City of Round Rock, TX

The second Austin suburb in our top 10, the nearly 100,000-resident-strong Round Rock is about half as safe as Georgetown with 2,511 crimes per 100,000 people. That’s 20 percent below the national average and 17 percent below the average for the rest of the country. Its 113 violent crimes for its entire populace is about one-third of the Texas and national averages.

At $68,952, the median household income in Round Rock is 31.8 percent higher than the national average (39.5 percent more than the Texas average). The unemployment rate there is two points lower than the national average at 6.3 percent. Its teacher to student ratio of 15 to 1 is only slightly better than the national 16 to 1 average.

5. Cedar Park, TX

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: City of Cedar Park, TX

Texas’s representation on our list wraps up with yet another Austin suburb, and with a crime rate 52 percent lower than the national average, Cedar Park’s 59,207 residents are the safest Texans in our ranking.

They also enjoy good classroom sizes with a 15-to-1 student-teacher ratio and low unemployment compared to the national average. The cost of living in the city is not quite as low as its other Texan counterparts on the list, but is still 8.2 percent below the national average. Its median household income of $70,914 is 35.5 percent above the national average and 43.5 percent higher than the average for the rest of Texas.

6. Cupertino, CA

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Wikipedia user Antipex

Home to Apple, Cupertino, CA is the only Northern California city—a suburb of San Jose, CA—to appear in our top 10. This city of 58,302 people can best be described as affluent, and residing there comes at a premium as its cost of living is 90.5 percent above the national average. At the same time, it’s tied for the distinction of being the safest city in our top 10 with a crime rate (1,283 per 100k residents) that’s 59 percent below the national average.

Cupertino’s residents also make a lot; at $120,201, the median household income there is 129.7 percent higher than the national average and 86.5 percent greater than the average Californian household. As with the rest of California, however, the city has larger than average class sizes (22-to-1 student-teacher ratio compared to the 16-to-1 national average) which, along with the cost of living, kept it out of the top five.

7. Matthews, NC

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Wikipedia user Jon Platek

The first of two North Carolina suburbs (of Charlotte, NC) on our top 10, Matthews, population 27,198, isn’t as safe as the cities we’ve talked about thus far. With 2,952 crimes per 100,000 residents, its crime rate is only 6.6 percent below the national average.

Thankfully for its residents, the city did better in other areas. One of them is cost of living, where it is 3.3 percent below the national average (and only .2 percent above the average for the rest of North Carolina). Median household income is also quite high at $70,742, which is 35.2 percent higher than the national average.

8. Cornelius, NC

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: City of Cornelius, NC

With 24,866 residents, the second suburb of Charlotte to earn a spot in our top 10, Cornelius, is about on par with the national average in terms of crime; 314 crimes per 10,000 residents annually. Property crime in the city, however, is slightly higher than the national average.

Cornelius is the first city we’ve detailed where the cost of living is actually higher than the average than the rest of the country (by 2.5 percent). Its median household income of $81,532 is 55.8 percent higher than the American average and 85.3 percent more than the average for North Carolina. In terms of education, its class sizes are double the national average; it has a 32-to-1 student-teacher ratio compared to 16-to-1 for the U.S. average.

9. Newton, MA

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Flickr user Lorianne DiSabato

Boston, MA suburb Newton, with 85,146 who call it home, is the second-safest city in our top 10. Its 147 crimes per 10k residents make it 53 percent safer than the national average and 32 percent lower than the Massachusetts average. Violent crimes are 78 percent lower in Newton than the average for the rest of the state.

The cost of living in Newton, on the other hand, is quite high—61.8 percent higher than the national average, which makes it second only to Cupertino in terms of how expensive it is to live in. An unemployment rate less than 4 percent helps, though, as does a $107,696 median household income which is 105.8 percent higher than the U.S. average. In terms of schools, Newton has one of the best student-teacher ratios in our top 10 at 11-to-1.

10. Germantown, TN

These Are America's Best Suburbs

Source: Flickr user duluoz cats

Just making the top 10, this suburb of Memphis, TN has 39,161 residents and is tied with Cupertino as safest with its crime rate 59 percent lower than the national average. 127 crimes per 10k residents are committed there each year.

Germantown’s cost of living is 8.7 percent higher than the national average—and 21.7 percent higher than the average for the rest of Tennessee. Median household income is an astonishing 169 percent higher than the state average. There are nine public and eight private schools in this, the highest scoring suburb for education in our top 10.

America's Best Suburbs


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posted on: October 24, 2013
230,383 views, 17 comments

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  1. kim falconer

    some of these listed are not my favorite.

  2. DL

    Relocated to a major metropolitan area after spending 40+ years in Memphis/Germantown and there are more suburban cities in the area I live in that have lower crime rates, better amenities, better schools, and lower costs of living than Germantown but were excluded due to the methodology in surveying the suburbs around the 25 largest cities. Very flawed approach to the ranking here! Wonder how all those Germantown residents are feeling now that many of those schools are recommended to stay in the combined city/county system there?

    • KC in response to DL

      I too am a little surprised by the rankings and as a teacher I took notice that they listed the student-teacher ratio for most of the top ten but not for Germantown. My school’s ratio average 26-1.

      • Art H in response to KC

        Germantown TN is a great place to live and raise a family. This is a fair ranking. OK so 3 schools will stay with SCS, but parents will have the option of moving to other school in the Germantown system or staying where they are. Plus Germantown High will become an optional school.

  3. Nick

    Camden, NJ…….Google it… of the highest crime rates in the U.S.A. ……something is very wrong with this list!

  4. Rafe

    It’s impossible taking this seriously considering there’s no such place as “White Haven, TN.” There’s an inner city neighborhood called Whitehaven in Memphis, but it’s not incorporated. Whoever write this doesn’t seem to comprehend that Memphis has suburbs in Arkansas and Mississippi. Our largest suburb is Southaven, MS.

    • Michael in response to Rafe

      whoever “wrote”.

      • Kelly S in response to Michael

        Thank you for trying to correct me, but I meant shot at. Getting shot at and getting shot are 2 different things. Shot at means someone tried to shoot you but they missed therefore you did not get shot. You were only shot at!

      • Rafe in response to Michael

        Thanks, pal. Spellchecking doesn’t change the fact that this ranking is silly. In considering Memphis, it invents a place and ignores it’s largest suburb. Not exactly an exhausting work of journalism.

  5. mark cantrell

    born&raised in westerville great place to live lots of work&business oportunities

  6. TexasHorseLady

    Georgetown and Round Rock are towns that have been such pretty near as long as Austin has. Lovely communities they are, but they are NOT suburbs of Austin but towns in their own right and should be respected as such. I suspect several of the others on this list are the same. Just because a city grows out and engulfs an incorporated town doesn’t magically turn that town into a suburb.

    • Cedge in response to TexasHorseLady

      Exactly what I thought. I lived in Georgetown for 4 years and did NOT consider it a suburb of Austin! Williamson Co. is known for it’s conservative, tough law enforcement, so it’s not surprising to read the crime rate is low. but me, I prefer to live to the west in Dripping Springs, TX.

  7. Kelly S

    And Whitehaven should not be listed on a top list of anything, except maybe one the top list of best places to get shot at!!!!!!

  8. Nancy

    I cannot believe Georgetown, TX is number 3. The only thing this old crummy town pushes is it’s old courthouse and a few overpriced antique stores. It’s not a suburb of Austin, being 40 miles away. There is ONE good Mexican restaurant and a few other comfort food places, but the Outbacks/Mac Grills/Red Lobsters/ etc. are in Round Rock. The only entertainment theater is an overpriced movie house. There are also no Dunkin/Donuts/Einstein Bagels, etc. It’s BORING.

    • TexasHorseLady in response to Nancy

      This foodie says that there are actually several good places to eatwith a variety of foods in Georgetown. Of course, they aren’t chains, but for someone really interested in the quality of the food, being a chain is a negative, not a plus. Wildfire, Ruby K’s, Studebaker’s, several Mexican restaurants, Dia Thai, The Hollow French Brasserie, Gumbos, Hard Tails for burgers, Walburg Restaurant and Biergarten and Dale’s Essenhaus just moments away in Walburg and, of course, if chains really are the end of the world for you, there are quite a few just 5 or 10 minutes up the road in north Round Rock, though Jack Allen’s Kitchen at the very northern tip of Round Rock/southern tip of Georgetown is a better, albeit more expensive, bet. No Dunkin Donuts, but several different donut stores – Shipley’s and a few others. City Lights theater is a multi-screen cinema; are you perhaps thinking of The Palace, with live plays? Frankly, if you can’t find something to do in Central Texas, including Georgetown, for entertainment, you don’t know how to throw a rock because that’s all it takes if you don’t want it spoon fed to you.

  9. wellstx

    I agree with TexasHorseLady. Georgetown is a great place to live. For a small town there is always something to do. Downtown on the Square there are art shows, Christmas Stroll, Market Day, Chilsom Trail Days, Ladies Night Out, First Friday…and that’s just what’s happening in November and December. We share events with Round Rock on our southern border and Austin, which is only 20 miles away, offers UT sports, more music than you can imagine and the big city amenities. In addition the area is full of trails and outdoor activties for all.


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