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This booming Houston suburb is one of America's best small cities

This booming Houston suburb is one of America's best small cities

City of Sugar Land town hall
Sugar Land is America's fifth best small city. Photo by Matthew T. Carroll/Getty Images

Houston suburbs have been in the spotlight lately, with Pasadena being recognized as a top city for first-time homebuyers and Sugar Land ranking among the Texas cities with the best cost of living. Now, Sugar Land is shining as one of America's best small cities.

The list comes from personal finance website WalletHub, which looked at 1,200 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 for the study. Rankings in five individual categories — affordability, economic health, education and health, quality of life, and safety — were rolled up into an overall score, then assigned a percentage.

"Given the large sample of cities ranked in this study, we grouped cities by percentile. The 99th percentile represents the top 1 percent of small cities in America," notes the report.

In the 99th percentile, aka at the very top of the list, sits Sugar Land, the No. 5 best small city in the U.S. The Houston neighbor also runs away with a few No. 1 rankings among the individual categories studied. It ranks first for population growth — 43 percent from 2014 to 2018 — and job growth — 41 percent during the same period. It's also tops for number of parks per capita.

Eighteen other cities, including two in Texas, join Sugar Land in the top 1 percent. Southlake, an affluent DFW suburb, ranks No. 8 overall, and Cedar Park, the hot spot northwest of Austin, ranks No. 9.

Southlake rivals Sugar Land with a few first-place rankings of its own. Coming in at No. 1 for income growth, it also boasts the highest median income on the list — $230,700 — and ranks first for housing costs, meaning that big paycheck can go pretty far.