Making the grade

Here's how Fort Worth fares in new ranking of best cities to live in U.S.

How Fort Worth fares in new ranking of best cities to live in U.S.

Fort Worth skyline
A "B-" grade for outdoor activities seems a little harsh. Photo by Ron and Patty Thomas/Getty Images

We know more and more transplants from around the country are choosing to move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Where are they looking to settle down? Two bustling North Texas suburbs have earned top-15 spots on a new list of the Best Cities to Live in America.

And they are ... drumroll, please ... Plano, at No. 7, and Richardson, at No. 12.

Just one other Texas city — The Woodlands, outside Houston — shows up on the list, and it tops them all, coming in at No. 1. (Second-place Arlington isn't "our" Arlington; it's the one in Virginia.)

Niche, an online platform that helps people choose schools and places to live, revealed its 2021 Best Cities to Live in America rankings on March 15. Niche generates the rankings by combing through data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and sifts through millions of reviews from residents. Among the ranking factors that Niche considers are affordability, housing market, neighborhood diversity, public schools, and walkability.

Fort Worth inexplicably does not make the list of 100 cities, landing at No. 124. Denton comes in at No. 54, Arlington claims No. 80, and Dallas nabs No. 84.

Fort Worth earns an overall grade of B+ and ranks high for diversity (23rd out of 228) and low cost of living (62nd out of 228), and average for young professionals (115th out of 228). Its highest individual grade is an A+ for diversity. It earns B+ for jobs, family-friendliness, nightlife, and weather; B for cost of living and commute; B- for housing, outdoor activities, and health & fitness; C+ for public schools, and C for crime & safety.

No. 7 Plano (which actually came in fifth on last year's list) receives an overall A+ from Niche in 2021. It earns an A+ for family friendliness, jobs, and diversity; an A for nightlife, and health and fitness; an A- for housing; a B+ for weather; a B for commuting; a B- for cost of living and outdoor activities; and a C+ for crime and safety.

On the heels of a recent No. 1-ranking for renters, Plano lands at No. 4 on Niche’s list of the best cities in the U.S. to buy a home, with a median home value of $320,100. It comes in No. 8 on the list of best cities to raise a family. 

“What a great place to live. Plano is filled with stuff to do, great jobs, great parks, and great people. The schools are pretty good, the location is perfect, and the community is wonderful,” a five-star review on Niche says.

Plano sits between No. 6-Ann Arbor, Michigan and No. 8-Columbia, Maryland.

Richardson, which retained its 12th-place ranking from last year, also scores an overall A+ from Niche. It earns an A+ for family friendliness and diversity; an A for public schools, nightlife, and health and fitness; an A- for jobs; a B+ for housing, weather, and commuting; a B for outdoor activities; a B- for cost of living; and a C+ for crime and safety.

Richardson ranks fifth on Niche’s list of the best places to retire in the U.S. and seventh among the best cities to buy a house. Median home value is a mere $274,200.

“Richardson is a great Dallas suburb that has been a great home for my family and I,” a five-star review on Niche says. “We moved here almost 4 years ago and have had the greatest experience possible!”

Richardson sits between Irvine, California at No. 11 and Seattle, Washington at No. 13.

The Woodlands, the 28,000-acre, master-planned community north of Houston, has moved up Niche’s list of the best cities in America in the past couple of years. Now, for the first time ever, it's No. 1.

Overall, The Woodlands earns an A+ from Niche, with the community scoring an A+ for public schools, family friendliness, and jobs; an A- for outdoor activities, housing, and diversity; an A for health and fitness; a B+ for nightlife and weather; a B for commuting; and a B- for cost of living.

The cities that round out the top 5 are: Arlington, Virginia (No. 2), Naperville, Illinois (No. 3), Overland Park, Kansas (No. 4), and Cambridge, Massachusetts (No. 5).