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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.