Photo Credit - Thinkstock
Photo Credit - Thinkstock

When it comes to the best cities in Texas to raise a family, Lufkin and Nacogdoches both scored in the bottom 10 percent.  At least, that's according to a study commissioned by WalletHub, but, I take this all in with a major grain of salt. 

First, let's identify WalletHub. It is self-described as the web’s best personal finance resource, and several times a week they release lists of the best of and/or the worst of finance, education, or economic related studies.  In this best/worst places in Texas for families survey, the cities that have strong growth and economies seemed to score the highest.  Southlake, University Park, Colleyville, Allen, and Flower Mound took the top 5 spots.

To their credit, WalletHub does use solid data and figures to justify their methodology and final rankings.  However, there are other categories and intangibles that do not get figured into the final mix, but we'll cover that in just a bit.  WalletHub released their grid based on 21 different metrics which were more broadly categorized under four headings -

  1. Family life and fun
  2. Education, health, and safety
  3. Affordability
  4. Socioeconomic environment

Based on these criteria, East Texas in general didn't score well.  Tyler and Longview ranked 79th and 67th, respectively, and Texarkana and Beaumont ranked below our two Deep East Texas cities.

Here is a table that breaks down the specific numbers for each of the metrics for Lufkin and Nacogdoches (The air quality and weather metrics are not included on this table).  The data is broken down into the raw numbers followed by where that number ranked out of the 112 cities surveyed.

         METRIC                                                                   LUFKIN              NAC

  1. Number of attractions (zoos, museums, etc...)     10/71st               31/32nd
  2. Pct of families with kids younger than 18               43.67/99th          50.46/51st
  3. Average commute time                                           13.8min/1st      16.4min/12th
  4. Quality of school system                                         50th                   102nd
  5. High School graduation rate                                    90%/46th           89%/68th
  6. Number of pediatricians per 100,000 residents      2.80/72nd          8.93/17th
  7. Pct of kids lacking health insurance coverage        8.7/25th            10.8/55th
  8. Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 residents                  4.32/85th           3.23/70th
  9. Property Crime Rate per 1,000 residents               55.50/107th       35.81/76th
  10. Housing affordability(income/housing costs)          85th                   109th
  11. General affordability(income/cost of living index)    105th                 108th
  12. Separation/Divorce Rate                                         26.99/95th         27.18/97th
  13. Percentage of two parent families                          63.5/98th            58.6/109th
  14. Percentage of families below poverty line              15.3/77th            22.2/102nd
  15. Pct of households receiving food stamps              24.64/96th          21.87/89th
  16. Unemployment Rate                                               5.4%/93rd          4.3%/70th
  17. Wealth gap                                                              14.78/79th         23.44/110th
  18. Foreclosure rate                                                      0.026%/16th     0.013%/6th
  19. Overall score                                                           37.90                37.82
  20. Overall rank                                                             102nd               103rd

Well, most of these numbers don't look too good, but Lufkin ranks #1 overall with the lowest commute time to work, and Nacogdoches ranks in the top 6 in lowest foreclosure rate.  But, most folks who live here know that these metrics are not necessarily a good indicator of what families truly experience here in the Pineywoods, there are other intangibles that have to be experienced rather than computed.  For instance:

  • Spending the day with the family on any of our many area lakes
  • Watching the SFA Lumberjacks basketball team destroy opponents
  • 4-wheeling through pastures and muddy trails
  • Golfing at one of the best courses in the state at Crown Colony
  • Experiencing the beautiful pines, azaleas, and dogwoods
  • Taking in the history of the Oldest Town in Texas
  • Taking a canoe down the Neches River

That is a partial list of what makes Deep East Texas great for families.  What others would you add?

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