Southlake may be relatively small in land area — covering only 22.5 square miles — but it’s big in stature. A new study from personal finance website WalletHub ranks the affluent Tarrant County community among the 20 best small cities in the U.S.
WalletHub puts Southlake at No. 17 on its list of the best small cities in the U.S. (those with populations between 25,000 and 40,000). In other words, Southlake can boast that it sits among the top 1 percent of the country’s small cities. The City of Southlake estimates its current population stands at 29,580.
WalletHub weighed 40 key indicators of livability — such as housing costs, school quality, and restaurants per capita — to produce its ranking.
Southlake shined in the affordability category, coming in at No. 3 among the 1,268 cities included in the study. Within that category, Southlake ranked No. 1 for the lowest housing costs and No. 4 for the highest homeownership rate.
In the category of economic health, Southlake showed up at No. 47. Its rankings in the study’s three other data buckets aren’t particularly brag-worthy, though — No. 185 for safety, No. 565 for education and health, and No. 584 for quality of life.
Southlake is no stranger to accolades. A WalletHub ranking earlier this year deemed it one of the most family-friendly cities in Texas. And a 2018 Bloomberg news service analysis determined it was among the 100 richest cities in the country.
Reviews on Niche.com back up WalletHub’s overall ranking of Southlake.
“The people can be very nice and the overall feel is great. The school district is amazing and the teachers are so helpful,” one reviewer wrote. “Southlake is definitely a town to experience.”
Another Niche.com reviewer praised Southlake as “an amazing place to live.”
“I have lived in Southlake for about 15 years and have absolutely loved it!” the reviewer said. “It’s [got] ... a super cute and homey feel.”
So, what’s the secret to small cities like Southlake continuing to thrive?
“Small cities do best when they strive to become a better version of themselves rather than trying to become something they’re not,” Jake Wegmann, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, told WalletHub.
By far, Southlake was the highest-ranked small city in Dallas-Fort Worth. But it wasn’t the only one in the top 100. Keller was No. 71, Flower Mound was No. 76, and Allen was No. 95.
Elsewhere in Texas, the Houston suburb of Sugar Land was No. 41. Three Austin suburbs — Cedar Park (No. 47), Leander (No. 64), and Georgetown (No. 86) — also made the top 100.