Residents who live in these 25 growing towns see their incomes go the furthest.
Big oil is about to bring big growth to this quaint Houston suburb. ExxonMobil will open its global headquarters in the area in 2014, bringing 8,000 employees with it. These newcomers will find inexpensive homes of every type, including five-bedrooms with a swimming pool for $300,000 and well-maintained starter homes for under $75,000.
During off-hours, there’s a golf course and Old Spring Town, a historic railroad town filled with shops, restaurants, museums and galleries that hosts down-home events like the Texas Crawfish Festival and Longhorn Rod Run.
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Thanks to its close proximity to Nashville, Murfreesboro has a thriving country music scene and a rapidly growing population. Commuters are drawn to the reasonable home prices — they can find a three-bedroom home for less than $150,000.
Homebuyers just have to be careful not to spend all of their money once they move in. Murfreesboro is a big retail hub, with three shopping centers that draw shoppers from all over the region.
While the area manages to maintain its small-town charm, it’s not without the occasional controversy. The town has made national headlines over the past two years over protests against the construction of a mosque. The Muslim house of worship finally opened in August, after a federal court ruling.
Known as “the City of Colleges,” the three schools in this suburb of Little Rock are a big draw for residents and employers alike. The University of Central Arkansas recently helped recruit Hewlett-Packard to open a support facility in town, and the tech firm has since become one of the area’s biggest employers.
The discovery of natural gas in the area has brought even more high-paying jobs, with oil giant Schlumberger opening a multi-million dollar facility nearby. Those salaries help make the already cheap homes here that much more affordable to residents.
Downtown is also thriving and has recently undergone a facelift. And restaurants are toasting Conway’s 2004 decision to stop being a “dry” town — they’ve seen a boost in business since.
When Rock Hill’s textile jobs were shipped overseas, it was forced to diversify into other businesses. Good thing it did. The town has seen an uptick in hiring lately, especially in professional and business services, like call centers.
But it’s not all work and no play in this town of 68,000. Each spring, Rock Hill hosts the 10-day-long Come-See-Me festival, which includes fireworks, games, parades and cook-offs and draws more than 100,000 visitors. There’s also 31 parks, four recreational centers and a nature trail.
Home prices are about 25% below national norms, reflecting the area’s low cost of living and median household income.
Jonesboro’s quaint downtown draws visitors from miles away each year. So does Arkansas State University, which boasts an 800-acre campus.
Some visitors even decide to stay. In fact, Jonesboro is going through a population boom. The town, located near the northeastern corner of the state, is now Arkansas’s fifth-largest city.
Luckily, there’s plenty of land for all those newcomers, which has helped keep home prices low. There are starter homes for under $100,000, and buyers can easily find a well-kept three-bedroom home for $150,000.