In our yearly roundup of perfect places to call home, we give high marks to these communities for their affordable housing, good neighbors, green space, and A+ schools.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $86,499
Median Home Price: $153,334
Households with Children: 49.8%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16:1
Great Schools Rating: 9
Terry Crabtree, a 50-year-old part-time nurse, has attended every single football game and marching competition since her son, Zach, 17, a sports nut and trombone player, started at Rockwall-Heath High School. Her husband, J.C., 57, who owns a carpet cleaning business, coached Zach's soccer and softball teams at the Y, and Terry has even filled in for the staff nurses at all the schools Zach and his sister, Jessica, 19, have attended.
The Crabtrees aren't unusual but the norm. "There are so many moms and dads stepping up, you practically have to get on a waiting list," says J.C. "We all want to show that we care about what our kids do." This lakeside Dallas suburb is one of the fastest-growing communities in Texas but still possesses the qualities the Crabtrees value most. Area schools rank among the top in the state on standardized test scores. And close ties are formed in the classroom. Jessica's third-grade teacher still sends her a birthday card every year, while Zach's middle school music instructor invites him to his jazz-band gigs around town. "The educators are not only top notch," says Terry, "they're terrific human beings as well."
Gold Star: Rockwall was the first school district in the nation to adopt Rachel's Challenge, a K-12 education program encouraging kids to perform random acts of kindness, named after Rachel Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High.