- For years, it has seemed like everyone is moving to Texas: The state’s population increased by 3.8 million from 2010 to 2019.
- One hot spot for inbound migration has been Frisco, Texas, a city 30 miles north of Dallas. Almost half of the area’s homeowners have lived there for less than 10 years.
- Business Insider talked to locals and new residents to understand the city’s appeal. It’s down-home charm, ample job opportunities, and family-oriented culture draw people to the area – even amid the pandemic.
- The results of the presidential election on Nov. 3 showed that Frisco’s changing demographics might also be shifting its politics. The two counties Frisco straddles are still red, but their margins are much narrower in 2020 than in 2016 – partly due to the influx of new residents.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Photographer Vanessa Corral remembers reading an article about North Texas being the ultimate place to raise a family back in 2013. At the time, she, her husband, and their two young daughters were living outside of Sacramento, California.
The idea of a family-first community piqued her interest, so they took a field trip to check it out. Corral was immediately taken aback by the classic, all-American feel to Texas. While she initially envisioned Frisco to be too small a town, she found it to be a growing city with “beautiful homes and communities.”
She also appreciated how polished everything looked: “Even the 7-Elevens are brick.”
Her husband, an engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), managed to secure an internal transfer, and three years after their initial scouting trip, they made the move to Frisco, Texas. The Corrals are now approaching five happy years in Frisco â€” and they’re just one example of thrilled, newly minted Texans.
Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz and Madison Hoff previously reported that it seems like everyone is moving to Texas. From 2010 to 2019, the state’s population swelled by 3.8 million. Today, there are nearly 29 million residents in the Lone Star State. One of the Texas cities welcoming the most new residents is Frisco: A stunning 43.6% of homeowners in the area have lived in the city for less than 10 years.
Frisco, where it’s sunny 230 days out of the year, is just 30 miles north of Dallas. It was a 6,000-person farm town as recently as 1990. Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the US with a population of roughly 200,000. And Frisco isn’t just a suburb â€” it’s a beloved city unto itself. Some data-backed lists have crowned it one of the best places to live in the country.
Consider the Nov. 3 presidential election. Texas, which has voted red in presidential races for decades, was one of the most important battleground states. While the state ultimately didn’t flip blue, the trend of inbound migration suggested a potential reshaping of the political map. In Frisco, the shifts are notable.
More people voted early in Texas than voted at all in the 2016 election, largely due to its significant influx of voters. Frisco, which straddles Collin County and Denton County, similarly recorded increased turnout for the milestone 2020 election. Collin County even had the highest early voting turnout in the state, per the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, the local NBC affiliate reported.
And while Donald Trump won the majority of votes in 2016 and 2020 in both Collin County and Denton County, the margins by which he won are noticeably slimmer in 2020. Trump earned 51.6% of Collin County’s votes (250,194), while Joe Biden secured 47% (227,868), per NBC’s tallies. A Politico map of the 2016 results shows that Trump pulled off a much more decisive victory over Hillary Clinton: Trump captured 56.2% of Collin County voters (200,395 ballots) far exceeded Clinton’s 39.2% (139,837 ballots).
In Denton County, NBC reported, the figures reveal similar trends, showing more turnout and an increased percentage of Democrat supporters. A less competitive race in 2016 (where Trump won 57.7% of the vote from 169,175 ballots to Clinton’s 37.5% from 110,000 ballots) turned into a close battle in 2020. This year, Trump garnering just 53.3% of the vote (221,829 ballots), while Biden nabbed 45.2% (188,023 ballots), Politico data showed.
These changes are at least in part due to the large numbers of new residents in Frisco. And the city’s allure for relocators doesn’t seem to be waning â€” even amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to US Postal Service change-of-address data between February and July, six cities out of the 10 that saw the largest number of new residents were in Texas, with Frisco landing in the top three.
As Corral put it, when you’re in Frisco, “There’s no reason to go to Dallas.”
Business Insider talked to nearly a dozen locals to find out why so many people are flocking to the area. We found that locals love Frisco because it’s the perfect backdrop to raise a family. The city’s residents tout its down-home Texas roots, rapid economic growth, and solid school system as reasons interest in the area has grown recently.
How a train stop became a booming city with a major sports presence
In 1902, the need for a stop on a train route from St. Louis to San Francisco led to Frisco’s creation â€” and its name. A small community grew around the train stop, and Frisco developed into an agricultural town with multiple cotton gins. Throughout the 20th century, Frisco only had a couple thousand residents.
In 1994, a new highway that connected Frisco to Dallas was built. The new and easy access to Dallas, which was just 30 miles away, fast-tracked Frisco’s growth. As more people moved to Frisco, sports vitalized the area. It welcomed a Minor League Baseball team, the Frisco Roughriders, in 2003, and a Major League Soccer team, FC Dallas, in 2005.
By 2016, the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys established their headquarters in the city. The team’s 91-acre complex, The Star, created thousands of jobs across the construction and hospitality industries. It also quickly morphed into a cultural centre point for the city: Frisco high schools play football games on its field and the entire community takes advantage of the many shops and restaurants on-site.
Meanwhile, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America is moving its headquarters of 50 years from Florida to Frisco. It is in the process of building a 660-acre campus that is slated to open in 2022 and to make Frisco something of an epicentre for the sport of golf.
And sports aren’t the only thing bolstering Frisco. T-Mobile, Oracle, Frisco Independent School District, and various medical centres number among the largest employers in the area. Top employers in neighbouring cities, like Plano and McKinney, include Bank of America, Frito-Lay, Dell, and HPE, where Corral’s husband works.
Locals don’t seem to mind the upward momentum. Corral told Business Insider that she has just one complaint about Frisco’s growth: traffic. Her commute to drop her daughters off at school has gotten a touch longer. A car ride that took five minutes a couple of years ago now takes somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
Frisco hasn’t lost its small-town Texas charm
Big-name employers might be creating thousands of jobs in Frisco, but locals say it still feels like a small town in many of the ways that matter to them the most.
Elementary school teacher Savannah Koontz grew up in the area and can’t imagine leaving. She just married her high school sweetheart in March â€” and they got engaged on their high school’s football field.
“We love how much Frisco is growing,” Koontz told Business Insider. “But it still has a small-town feel.”
Koontz raved about attending FC Dallas soccer games and said she enjoys dining out at new restaurants, but noted she still has routines that date back to middle school. She said she spends summer afternoons heading to The Snow Cone Lady, a snow cone stand that’s legendary among locals. She’s been frequenting it since she was a kid.
Koontz and her husband bought their first home at the beginning of May. They decided on Frisco to be close to family, who are all native to North Texas, and because they want to “eventually raise a family” in the area.
Koontz isn’t the only local who touted Frisco as a family-friendly haven.
Corral’s daughters, who are 12 and 16, are in the marching band at their Christian prep school. Her oldest, Isabella, is a drum major â€” a big deal for a sophomore in Texas, where football and band culture run deep. Corral said it’s been a blessing to raise daughters in the area, noting that the community is supportive and full of “like-minded parents.”
While the Corral girls attend private school, many like living in Frisco because of the strong public school system.
The Frisco Independent Schools District, where Koontz is an elementary school teacher, is considered to be one of the top school districts in the state, according to Niche, a comprehensive guide to neighbourhoods and schools.Niche ranks it as the seventh-best school district in the state. There are 15 students for every teacher in the Frisco Independent Schools District, which is slightly lower than the national average of 17 students for every teacher. It also has a 98% high school graduation rate.
Jamie Haas, an interior designer, recently settled down permanently in the area. She and her husband previously lived in St. Louis and moved to Frisco in 2019.
Their first son was born in Frisco in September. She told Business Insider that the family-oriented community and good school district played a role in their decision to settle down in the area. “Its just a better overall quality of life,” she said. “We wanted our future kids to grow up around family and the best opportunities.”
Ample housing opportunities
The reason people say they’re happy in Frisco can also be traced back to some telling numbers.
Consider these homeownership stats: According to census data, about 74% of Frisco’s housing units are occupied by owners. In comparison, about 64% of housing units across America are occupied by owners. The current median home value, according to Zillow, is also significantly higher in Frisco ($US437,596) than it is in the broader US ($US289,625).
And while the median household income in the US is $US60,293, Frisco’s median household income is $US127,133. Frisco also has a low property tax and no income tax, making it an attractive choice for many.
Additionally, because the Frisco area is still growing, there are developable land opportunities lending themselves to newer homes. Haas and her husband built a home in Frisco this past year.More than half of the homes â€” 58% â€” in Frisco were built in 2005 or later.
Nicole Eastman, a doctor who relocated from the US to Grand Cayman eight years ago, paid nearly $US3,000 in rent for modest accommodations abroad for her family of four â€” accommodations that ended up having black mould.
She repatriated this summer. In July, her family moved into a brand-new apartment building in Frisco â€” with more bedrooms, updated appliances, and countless amenities, all at a fraction of her Grand Cayman costs.
A good place to grow a small business and start a family
While small businesses everywhere are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and both Corral and Haas have had less work, they also said Frisco has been a perfect market for their small businesses thus far.
It’s also a good place to be during a recession. A SmartAsset report from March examined employment, housing, and social assistance across US metro areas and named Frisco the “most recession-proof place in America.” The study factored in the current unemployment rate, the change in the unemployment rate during the Great Recession, housing costs as a percentage of income, change in home value during the Great Recession, and the percentage of the population needing public assistance. Frisco scored top marks in nearly all categories.
The city tries to bolster its local entrepreneurs by providing a number of resources through its Chamber of Commerce. Inspire Frisco, one of those resources, is a startup incubator sponsored by the city and the University of North Texas. The organisation provides mentorship opportunities and connects aspiring innovators to venture capital.
Corral, a portrait photographer, runs her business out of a converted photo studio in her home. Her goal, she told Business Insider, is to make people feel like they could be on the cover of a magazine.
After moving to Texas from California, she said reopening her business “in a new place was daunting.” She built up her client base slowly, and through word of mouth. She started by photographing nurses at the hospital she worked at part-time, and then women’s development events in Frisco, and then families at her daughters’ school.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was busy. While business has been a touch slower amid the pandemic, she expects business to pick back up again. She is currently working toward a project photographing local nurses.
Haas was previously a designer with Restoration Hardware but recently decided to go out on her own. Now, as an independent interior designer, she also feels Frisco hold potential for her nascent solo venture. She hasn’t done any marketing yet, but potential clients have been finding her on Instagram and reaching out for help. She, too, noted that business been slow in the summer, but she has appreciated the pace, as settling into Frisco during her pregnancy had been a top priority for her.
As for Eastman, her move to Frisco will mark her 10th move since 2005, and one that comes with some welcome changes.
She has been homeschooling her two children, ages four and seven, since moving to Grand Cayman in 2012. But after struggling with unsafe living conditions and medical issues resulting from black mould, the family decided to hang up the expat life. “Sometimes life will be so uncomfortable,” she said, “that it’s time to move.”
The first place her husband, Tim, found work amid the pandemic was at a school in the Frisco area. Eastman believes in signs.
A safe living situation and great schools for her kids sounded exciting to Eastman. Her daughter has started calling herself “Cowboy Kaitlyn,” and Eastman couldn’t be happier about it. They settled into their new apartment in July.
“Everything about Frisco feels like a new beginning,” Eastman said. “I’ve survived â€” now I want to truly live.”
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