#4. Round Rock
Imagine living near legendary music venues, innovative restaurants, pristine parks and excellent athletic facilities along with great schools and shopping centers. How does this dream get better? Now imagine having the money to actually enjoy all those amenities. That’s the reality for most residents of Round Rock, Texas, an Austin suburb where the median household income of $71,000 goes a very long way.
Round Rock landed at the top of our 2015 Best Affordable Places to Live list but fell three places this year, mainly because residents do spend slightly more than those in other cities on housing costs. The city’s income equality, consumer spending, average home prices and household income levels are still hard to beat for the quality of life Round Rock provides.
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Most Round Rock residents spend less than 28 percent of their salaries on housing and about seven percent less on groceries and utilities than the average American, according to The Council for Community and Economic Research. Health care and other living expenses hover at or below the national average as well, leaving residents with plenty of money to enjoy the many things there are to do in and around Round Rock.
The city’s quaint downtown includes independent restaurants that delight residents like Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Greenhouse Craft Food. Shops like Sweet Love & Sugar Britches and Danny Ray’s Music provide alternatives to big-box stores and deliver a bit of quirk to Round Rock. The Flix Brewhouse caters to those who like a beer or two with their movies. Sports fans can find great deals at Dell Diamond, home field for the Round Rock Express, a minor league baseball team.
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With more than 13,000 employees, the computer company Dell anchors Round Rock’s economy, while companies like Sears Teleserv, Emerson Process Management and a variety of retail, health-care and manufacturing facilities broaden the business scene. Community leaders strive to keep taxes low while providing excellent quality-of-life amenities for residents. Unemployment in Round Rock and the Austin area hovers below four percent, a sign of a thriving business climate.