10 cities with things kids (and their families) like
If children could choose where to live, families would be swarming to a handful of spots in Texas, at least according to Zillow’s ranking of the best cities for kids.
Zillow considered four factors in creating its ranking from the 100 largest U.S. cities: percentage of kids under 10 (for friends to play with), percentage of homes listed with kid-friendly terms (such as playroom, game room, and tree house), number of parks and theme parks per 10,000 people, and median yard size.
Of Zillow’s list of top cities for kids, four are in Texas. The list includes:
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Madison, WI
- Fort Worth, TX
- San Antonio, TX
- Greensboro, NC
- Charlotte, NC
- Tulsa, OK
- Wichita, KS
- Anchorage, AK
- Dallas, TX
David Motley, president of Colonial Savings, said he’s not surprised by the inclusion of his city, Fort Worth, in third place.
“It still has a ‘small town feel’ even though it has grown in the last 30 years,” he says. “Parents are engaged. The city makes it easy to expose kids to a wide variety of activities, whether it’s sports, museums, or our zoo.”
Motley, who has lived in the city since 1983 and raised two children there, points to the many activities, indoors and outdoors, that make the nation’s 16th-largest city a kid-friendly one. The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, is one example, with what it describes as “the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive.”
“Our moniker is: where the West begins,” Motley says. “We have a Western culture.”
In Fort Worth, 16.1 percent of residents are under age 10; the percentage of homes listed with “kid-friendly” terms is 13.8 percent; there are four parks per 10,000 people; there are 0.02 theme parks per 10,000 people; and the median yard size is 5,742 sq. ft.
“Must-haves for families with kids are a lot different than those without,” Zillow chief marketing officer Jeremy Wacksman says, according to a statement. “In addition to a convenient commute, families with kids also want an awesome backyard. Forget the gourmet kitchen – kids want a decked-out finished basement, dedicated playroom or custom tree house. Proximity to happening nightlife isn’t nearly as important as growing up close to lots of other kids to play around with.”
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Motley says 37 percent of Colonial Savings’ loan customers have children under age 18 when the loan is originated, which tracks closely with the state of Texas at 36 percent.
“It makes sense. First-time homebuyers are often young parents,” Motley says.
First-time (and Repeat) Buyers Benefit
While Texas is relatively affordable compared to the East and West Coasts, and the lack of a state income tax helps, property taxes can be a little higher, Motley points out.
“There are programs that help first-time homebuyers get into housing a little more easily,” Motley says.
These include VA loans for service members, of which there are many in Texas, and a zero-down USDA mortgage product for eligible rural housing just outside Fort Worth.
Fannie Mae also offers an affordable mortgage, HomeReady® mortgage, which lets qualified borrowers put as little as three percent down. HomeReady can be used by first-time and repeat buyers.
Swing Sets and Ballparks
When asked if there are any tips to work with customers with children, Motley says the 65-year old firm’s “family feel” contributes to the firm’s success with households with kids.
“Most of our employees have kids. We empathize with our customer base. We see them in our ballpark and on the school field,” Motley says. “Empathy is one of our core principles. We feel we can relate to our customers well.”
The average tenure for the firm’s management is about 20 years, says Motley, who has been with the family-owned company since 1980.
“It’s gratifying to help people put down roots in a house to raise their kids, have a dog, and get a swing set,” he says.