There's no way around it: Austin's suburbs are all the buzz, with Leander landing a massive entertainment hub and Round Rock earning a top spot among the fastest-growing cities. Now, Cedar Park is shining as one of America's best small cities for 2020.
The list comes from personal finance website WalletHub, which looked at 1,200 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 for the study. Rankings in five individual categories — affordability, economic health, education and health, quality of life, and safety — were rolled up into an overall score, then assigned a percentage.
"Given the large sample of cities ranked in this study, we grouped cities by percentile. The 99th percentile represents the top 1 percent of small cities in America," notes the report.
In this 99th percentile, aka at the very top of the list, sits Cedar Park, the No. 9 best small city in the U.S. Contributing to its top spot is unprecedented growth across the board. From 2014 to 2018, Cedar Park's population grew by 25 percent. At the same time, incomes jumped 28 percent and jobs grew by 29 percent.
Eighteen other cities, including two in Texas, join Cedar Park in the top 1 percent. Sugar Land, just outside Houston, ranks No. 5 overall, and Southlake, an affluent DFW suburb, ranks No. 8.
Sugar Land runs away with some No. 1 rankings, taking the top spots for population growth — 43 percent from 2014 to 2018 — and job growth — 41 percent during the same period.
Southlake rivals Sugar Land with first-place rankings of its own. Coming in at No. 1 for income growth, it also boasts the highest median income on the list — $230,700 — and ranks first for housing costs, meaning that big paycheck can go pretty far.