THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE

RANKING THE REGION’S SUBURBS AND TOWNS

Rankings mean numbers, arid ne haie all the numbers anyone will ever need Just see the charts on the following pags But to really get to the truth about a place, you need more than numbers. You turd opinions. So after reviewing the statistical data and picking this year’s Top Ten, masked three groups what they really think about our best cities. From the standard chamber of commerce answers to the detailed demographic data (used by retailers and magazines to target desirable audiences) to the feedback of residents themselves, we found some sur-lien, of course, ne tad to add a prising truths about our suburbs few words of our own.

1. HIGHLAND PARK

Estimated Population: 9,450 Average Household Income: $201,360 Average Value of Homes Sold: $616,120 Median Age of Resident: 40,8 Downtown Commute; 3.6 miles



What the Chamber of Commerce Says

Somehow, ii isn’t surprising that Highland Park doesn’t actually have a chamber of commerce-doesn’t everyone already know about the place? Newcomers literature says the town is “a haven for home and fireside-undisturbed by conflict of commercial or political interests. The function of government in Highland Park is protection of the home. Citizens who cherish their homes will vigilantly preserve their heritage of self-government,”



Primary research by Jeff Thompson and Paul Winkelblech of Jamison Research. Editorial assistance by Shaneen Douglas.

What the Demographers Say

A tennis-playing, moviegoing, mini-van-driving, exotic vacation-taking, sports watch-wearing, American Movie Classics-watching community that “would be willing to pay more for TV with no sex or profanity” and that ranks in the highest bracket for amount invested per family.



What the Residents Say

“The only thing I don’t like about living in Highland Park is you can’t vote for Dallas mayor. But 1 love the large trees. I love being wonderfully close to downtown. And, in spite of how car-oriented Dallas is, you walk the neighborhood. You can walk to Highland Park Village, to Knox Street, to Lucky’s on Oak Lawn.”



What We Say

Charming to look at, but the best way to get there is to be bom there.

2. UNIVERSITY PARK

Estimated Population: 23,850 Average Household Income: $89,930 Average Value of Homes Sold: $392,620 Median Age of Resident: 31.5 Downtown Commute: 5.2 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

A recent citizen survey indicated the top reasons for choosing University Park as a home were public safety, neighborhood character, and location. The community’s master plan builds on the city’s commitment to providing responsive service and sets forth a plan to address future needs on a comprehensive basis well into the 21st century. Residents can be assured University Park will maintain its distinguished character and high standards.



What the Demographers Say

University Parkers are UP-scale-and serious-minded. A typical resident contributed more than $50 to PBS last year, listens to news radio, and reads business and finance magazines, as well as newsweeklies (Time more than Newsweek), plus travel and sports periodicals.

Residents drink domestic wines of both major flavors, belong to frequent-flyer programs, and go on six or more domestic excursions per year. They invest in municipal bonds, install home security systems, barbecue outdoors with gas, but bum only wood in their fireplaces.

What the Residents Say

We love the sense of community here, and the great schools – the best in Texas!



What We Say

Univeristy Park is so much less pretentious and “social” than neighboring Highland Park-just ask any UP resident. This in-town suburb has pretensions of May-berry-you know, it’s just a small town where everyone knows everyone else. Which doesn’t explain why you need a photo ID to get into the community pool.



3. COLLEYVILLE

Estimated Population: 17,400 Average Household Income; $139,963 Average Value of Homes Sold: $220,645 Median Age of Resident: 36,7 Downtown Commute: 13.7 miles



What the Chamber of Commerce Says

“Colleyville has been able to attract residents who are well-educated,” says Donna Arp, Mayor Pro Tem. “We have one of the best school systems in the U.S. We have a unique rural atmosphere in the heart of the mid-cities, with high-quality housing and lots of amenities for families.

“We have a unique sense of community pride that started with our early leaders, 15 years ago, but it’s carried forth with our new generation leaders. A great percentage of our residents have a college degree, and they get involved.1’



What the Demographers Say

Although Colleyville prides itself on its distinctiveness from the “Big City,’’ its residents are likely to work there. Marketing data shows a high percentage of white-collar jobs and executive salaries.

Residents have the highest per-capita rate of both cellular phones and PCs with modems, and while many commute to Dallas or Fort Worth, many also have home offices. This is a hard-working city, with the income to prove it.



What the Residents Say

Those who live here always mention the natural beauty of the city, and although the growth rate is high, the word “country” always seems to come up.

“I think it’s a country lifestyle, but it’s near the city,” says one. “It’s a pretty area. You’re close to the airport, you’re close to the highways, but you don’t have the hustle and bustle of the city.”

What We Say

Size does matter, at least in Colleyville. The city is second only to Highland Park in average household income, and it shows: The sprawling developments feature huge new houses on manicured lot alter lot after lot…, We assume there’s a sense of security and safeness in the pricey monotony of it all



4. FLOWER MOUND

Estimated Population: 37,950 Average Household Income: $68,217 Average Value of Homes Sold: $147,382 Median Ape of Resident: 30.8 Downtown Commute; 23.4 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

The school system is first rate. Flower Mound features a variety of quality housing options and a safe family environment, Recreation options are plentiful and include bike and nature trails. Lake Grapevine, and two world-class golf courses. DFW Airport. Alliance Airport, Texas Motor Speedway, and the dining, shopping, and recreation of both Dallas and Fort Worth are all within minutes.



What the Demographers Say

An up-and-coming bunch. Rower Mounders own their own bowling balls and paint-sprayers. Like the rest of America, they subscribe to pay television.

What the Residents Say

“We found by far the best real estate values out here. But we never have found a flower mound.”



What We Say

We’d like to see a flower mound, too. Who names these places?



5. HIGHLAND VILLAGE

Estimated Population: 11,300 Average Household Income: $76,485 Average Value of Homes Sold: $171,485 Median Age of Resident: 33.8 Downtown Commute: 27,3 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

“You get more bang from your buck here,” says Sue Thompson, community development coordinator in the Highland Village city office, located in a strip mall. “You can buy a bigger house with more amenities for less money.”



What the Demographers Say

The population seems to care more about in-house amenities (new cars, computers, houses, and VCRs) than local culture. And these folks spend a lot on dry-cleaning.



What the Residents Say

“It’s a transient population-people moving in and out a lot, because so many work at DFW Airport. But there’s a real sense of community, too. McAuliffe (Elementary School) is great.”



What We Say

There’s no real sense of community identity-it’s tough to tell when you’ve crossed the line that separates Highland Village from neighboring Flower Mound. This could be Anywhere. U.S.A.

6. TROPHY CLUB

Estimated Population: 5,150 Average Household Income: $91,086 Average Value of Homes Sold; $136,735 Median Age of Resident: 35.9 Downtown Commute: 20.8 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

“The area offers a blend of beautiful landscapes, hills, waterways, and heavily wooded terrain. In addition, the area offers some of the most complete tennis and golf facilities available anywhere.”



What the Demographers Say

Good family life. Specifically: Residents of Trophy Club like to watch Seinfeld, and they own a gas grill.



What the Residents Say

“The main thing that brought us out here in the early ’80s was the golf course. But getting here is just horrible. Somebody needs to do something about Highway 114. The drive through the Southlake area all the way out to Trophy Club has become unbearable.”



What We Say

At least Trophy Club is forthright about its reason for being: This community is actually a country club whose clubhouse is the whole town. We can just picture the trophy cases inside die new-monied houses surrounding the Ben Hogan-desiged golf course. Everyone’s a winner here!

7. ROCKWALL

Estimated Population: 13,800 Average Household Income: $66,888 Average Value of Homes Sold: $109,569 Median Age of Resident: 35.0 Downtown Commute: 21.0 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

Rockwall residents love to think of the town as a quaint alternative to the city. “A virtual oasis with Lake Ray Hubbard as its main attraction,” with “grocery store employees who always speak to customers, mailmen who introduce themselves to new residents, motorists letting people in front of them on the highway, and neighbors who have time to visit.” In other words, Shangri-La.



What the Residents Say

“It’s like a small town; there’s even a town square.” “The quality of life is great, but we’re growing.” “The schools are excellent, and it’s very family-oriented.”

What the Demographers Say

Rockwall residents are likely to be between 35 and 49, married with children. They are most likely to own a Dodge truck or van and probably drive alone to work. Home gyms and gas grills are popular here.



What We Say

Rockwall looks less like a resort than a lakeside North Dallas with a two-year construction project between you and the lake.



8. SOUTHLAKE

Estimated Population: 16,850 Average Household Income: $89,000 Average Value of Homes Sold: $244,089 Median Age of Resident: 35,4 Downtown Commute: 20,2 miles

What the Chamber of Commece Says

This region north of D/FW Airport was called Cross Timbers 100 years ago, and the swath of trees that gave rise to the name still remains, making Southlake one of the prettiest suburbs around.

Though you’ll see an old cemetery here and a steepled church there, virtually everything else has been built in the ’90s.



What the Demographers Say

Those moving to Southlake have reached “midlife success”-they’re professionals between the ages of 40 and 54-and are into technology: they are likely to have more than two VCRs, an espresso/cappuccino maker, a coffee grinder, and a personal computer with a link to the Internet, which they use often.



What the Residents Say

“The school system is fully comparable to the Park Cities or virtually any North Dallas private school. And it’s one of the few Dallas suburbs that has trees.”



What We Say

Southlake is a Highland Park wannabe, but you can’t buy cachet so easily. The houses are huge here but glaringly nouveau. And face it: The proximity of Texas Motor Speedway has only dubious appeal. Here’s a plus: Southlake is closer to the airport than to Dallas or Fort Worth, so you get out of town easily. We’re betting you can afford the airline tickets.



9. COPPELL

Estimated Population: 27,550 Average Household Income: $75,459 Average Value of Homes Sold: $166,926 Median Age of Resident: 30.7 Downtown Commute: 18.2 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

“Beautification and community spirit are both high on the list of community goals. There’s a new community garden next to the new Town Center; and Kid Country, a new community-built playground, is the main attraction at Andy Brown Park.



What the Demographers Say

Most of those big brick homes with the Palladian entries have wood-burning fireplaces and the residents are drinking fresh-ground brews from their espresso machines while they work at home on their personal computers or talk to their broker at Shearson-Lehman.



What the Residents Say

“We chose Coppell when we left North Dallas because we thought it was the most well-planned community around Dallas.

There’s a psychological value to the Town Center-it gives Coppell civic pride and a sense of place. Coppell feels like a small town, instead of an anonymous suburb.”



What We Say

There are folks working in the community garden, there are children playing in the community playground, there are people walking their dogs and playing tennis in the community park. Coppell does feel like a small town-a small town that appears to have been programmed- er, built-the day before yesterday. By Walt Disney.

10. PLANO

Estimated Population: 192,400 Average Household Income: $58,831 Average Value of Homes Sold: $154,100 Median Age of Resident: 31,1 Downtown Commute; 18.2 miles

What the Chamber of Commerce Says

According to Phil Wentworth, chairman-elect of the Piano Chamber, the city has “residents who are very involved with the overall community, and that includes the businesses. We also have a city government and a chamber of commerce that work extremely well together. We have one of the finest school districts in Texas. and when you put all those things together, it goes a long way toward promoting an outstanding city,”



What the Demographers Say

Planoites are among the biggest personal investors in the nation. Among the categories the city ranks first in marketing data is percentage of residents with more than $200,000 of investable assets.

And what do they use all that money for? Among other things, travel: residents of Piano are in the highest category for percentage of frequent fliers and typically take more than six domestic trips per year.



What the Residents Say

As one of the fastest growing cities in America, Piano has seen its share of changes, and the residents seem to be glad for it. “A decade ago,” says one resident, “you had to leave Piano to do anything-movies, eating at a nice restaurant, shopping. Now Piano has everything Dallas has. including the high-end retailers and gourmet shops and restaurants. It’s its own city now.”



What We Say

Piano is another unfortunate example of America’s cultural homogenization. Call it the derivative city. But if you’re relocating from Des Moines and need a place that’s affordable, safe, and, yes. strangely familiar, Piano’s your place. Has anything original ever come out of this place?



HOW WE DID IT



With assistance from Jamison Research, we rated 42 local communities using seven variables: Housing, Education, Safety, Property Tax Rate, Commute Distance (to Fort Worth or Dallas), Environmental Quality, and Growth Rate. The bulk of the score came from Housing, Education, and Safety (20 percent each), accounting for 60 percent of each community’s final score, based on a 100-point scale. Property taxes contributed 12.5 percent to the rating, followed by commute distance and environmental quality at 10 percent each. Finally, growth rate was weighted at 7.5 percent.

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