Living well

Dallas suburb with lovely lakefront drifts onto Money's Best Places to Live 2020

One Dallas suburb drifts onto Money's Best Places to Live 2020

Rockwall lake harbor
Rockwall was the only DFW city to earn a spot this year. Facebook/Rockwall Texas Homes

Editor's note: A version of this story originally appeared on CandysDirt.com.

According to Money magazine, if you want to live the good life in North Texas, you should head to Rockwall. The northeast Dallas suburb made it into the top five in Money's list of Best Places to Live in America 2020.

In rankings released September 22, Rockwall was No. 4, making its Money list debut based on its “status as one of the fastest-growing cities in one of the nation’s fastest-growing states.”

Last year, no DFW city made Money's top 10; Wylie got the closest at No. 26.

This year, the Hill Country town of New Braunfels was the only other Texas city to appear on the list, at No. 25. 

Money ranked communities based on factors such as safety, cost of living, and diversity. The publication analyzed a list of 1,890 communities with a population of at least 25,000. It also considered 115 separate data points on each community’s economy, housing market, education system, employment, weather, and more. The methodology accounted for countywide unemployment and housing distress as a result of COVID-19, factors and demographics to ensure this year’s list was racially diverse.

According to Money, Rockwall has experienced 19 percent job growth over the past five years and is projected to grow another 17 percent in the next five. The city's recovery from pandemic-related job losses contributed to its ranking. The local unemployment rate was 7.2 percent compared to a national average of 11.1 percent, the magazine says.

"It’s not all work," Money says. "Rockwall’s super-walkable downtown district has a small-town vibe, with historic false-front buildings and a broad variety of locally owned shops and restaurants. In the summer and fall, live music events liven up San Jacinto Plaza, while the Rockwall Farmers’ Market attracts visitors from all over the Dallas metro area."

There’s also that cool Harbor District that fronts Lake Ray Hubbard.

“You can drive your boat right up and enjoy the amenities,” says Jason Castro, a Dallas-based real-estate agent who grew up in the Rockwall area. “It’s got a lot to offer and still has a much slower pace.”

Castro (whose name you might remember as a fourth-place finalist on Fox’s American Idol in 2008), touts Rockwall's proximity to Dallas — just a 20- to 30-minute commute. "Rockwall has been one of D-FW’s best-kept secrets," he says.

Rockwall Economic Development Corporation president Phil Wagner says the recognition underscores what Rockwall residents think already — that it's a special place. 

The Money accolade comes on the heels of a recent report by financial website SmartAsset that ranked Rockwall among the top Texas places with the highest median income relative to the cost of living. A $93,269 median income easily finances a $44,539 cost of living there, the SmartAsset report says.

So, which U.S. cities landed ahead of Rockwall on Money's list? Evans, Georgia came in at No. 1, ahead of Parker, Colorado (2), and Meridian, Idaho (3). Columbia, Maryland rounds out the top five.