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McKinney Is The Best Place To Live In America, Money Magazine Says

City of McKinney
McKinney in Collin County is the best place to live in America, according to Money magazine's 2014 ranking.

McKinney: You’re No. 1.

That’s according to Money magazine, which this morning unveiled its annual list of best places to live in America.

Credit Money Magazine
The cover of the latest Money magazine, which features its annual "Best Places to Live" list

And McKinney, the Collin County city of 149,000 people known for its charming downtown and Victorian-era homes, is on top.

This year, Money’s listfocuses on cities with populations of between 50,000 and 300,000 people. The magazine considered “economic strength, job growth, affordable housing, safety, schools, accessible healthcare, arts and leisure and ease of living.”

What Money says about McKinney

"Underlying McKinney’s Southern charm is a thoroughly modern city," Money says. Money editors write: "The area is a hotbed for growth-industry jobs. Raytheon recently brought a 3,600-employee division to town, and companies in green energy, aviation, and medical services have also moved to the region. … Career and college prep are big in McKinney’s schools. AP courses start in middle school, and high schoolers can get internships in a range of industries. Technology is central; grade schoolers get lessons on wired smartboards, and starting in January, every high school freshman will be issued a MacBook Air laptop. The historic downtown houses a mix of art galleries, boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants, as well as basics like a butcher, shoe repair, and farm-supplies stores. ... Housing options range from restored Victorians to Texas-style mansions." The magazine also notes that the city has an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. 

The top 10

Drum roll please … Here’s the top 10 “Best Places to Live in America”: 

1. McKinney, Texas

2. Maple Grove, Minnesota

3. Carmel, Indiana

4. Castle Rock, Colorado

5. Kirkland, Washington

6. Columbia/Ellicott City, Maryland

7. Clarkstown, New York

8. Ames, Iowa

9. Rochester Hills, Michigan

10. Reston, Virginia

A popular choice

McKinney was No. 2 on Money's Best Places to Live list in 2012, the last time the magazine ranked smaller cities.

About McKinney

Lots of people visit downtown McKinney, which offers shops, art galleries, furniture stores, antique stores, and more. The original Collin County Courthouse is in the downtown square. It’s now the McKinney Performing Arts Center, which includes a 480-seat theater, auditorium and art gallery.

Throughout the year, the city hosts events such as Oktoberfest and Home for the Holidays – A McKinney Christmas.

Video: McKinney from above

Explore the Collin County city in this cool video:

What McKinney says

McKinney is already bragging about the ranking online.

Here’s how McKinney describes itself: "McKinney’s gently rolling hills, tree-lined neighborhoods, historic downtown and beautiful parks give the city a quaint, small town feel – quite different from the Metroplex’s urban sprawl."

McKinney’s motto is “Unique by nature.” Why? The city explains:

“Unique by nature” speaks to McKinney’s natural assets: our rolling hills, parks, streams and lakes. It refers to our inherent uniqueness: our historic downtown, our cultural diversity, our quality of life, our business-friendly environment and the dynamic growth we’ve seen over the past decade.  Our brand embodies the spirit of our community - the charming neighborhoods, friendly residents, downtown festivals, a sense of history and the prudent but forward-thinking attitudes of our leadership. It was City Council’s vision to take the lead in spearheading creation and launch of a community-wide brand and invest in building and growing it. 

What residents are saying

McKinney residents are bragging, too. Here's what they're saying on Facebook:

  • This makes my heart happy! What a great day.
  • Love living, and raising our family in McKinney!
  • Proud!
  • It is also a great place to work.
  • Those of us who live here knew that already!
  • Get ready for the influx of people moving here. More houses and more traffic.

How does Money compile the list?

Money says it takes data from OnBoard Informatics for cities and screens out retirement communities, cities with poor educational scores and more than an hour from an airport, as well as towns with a “median family income of less than 80 percent of the state average or more than 95 percent of one race.” The magazine focuses on ranking cities’ economic and jobs, housing, safety and schools. Money also considers health, arts and leisure, and “ease of living.” Magazine representatives visit cities and interview residents and look at traffic and parks. 

Also: Fort Worth is a “big city bargain”

This year, Money  named the 10 Best Big-City Bargains in America. Fort Worth is on the list. The list includes: Charlotte; Phoenix; Fort Worth; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon. 

Learn more

Explore theMoney "Best Places to Live" issue here.
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Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.