40 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Texas
On average, Americans spend about 25 minutes commuting to work, so that means almost an hour in the car each day. But the typical drive for residents of the best commuter cities in Texas is just 18 minutes, and for six in 10 workers, the trip takes less than 15 minutes.
It’s interesting to note that, as a whole, the cities listed below boast an impressively high carpooling rate of 14.30 percent. And, in a handful of cities, more than 20 percent of workers share a ride to the office. Nationally, a nominal 10 percent of workers carpool.
Many people aren’t aware of how the length of their commute can impact their life. For example, longer commutes not only affect overall health, they can also result in a higher auto insurance premium, and that’s something everyone wants to avoid. Likewise, workers who have short commutes enjoy many benefits, including saving money on car insurance.
We admire these cities and want to spotlight them. To create our list of the 40 best commuter cities in Texas, Obrella referenced the 2013 Census Survey and found cities with more than 10,000 residents. Next, we took a look at the most recent survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed the traffic data of those cities.
How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums
When you get an auto insurance quote, you’ll be asked how far you travel to work. That’s because the longer you spend on the road commuting, the greater the chance you’ll be involved in an accident. And, typically, drivers who represent a greater risk to an insurance company pay more for their auto insurance premium.
If your commute increases for some reason, such as a job change or a move, your monthly auto insurance premium could go up by as much as $10. Car insurance companies in Texas can tell you how your commute may impact your insurance premium. Be sure to notify your insurance provider if you shorten or lengthen your commute.
How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life
Here are just a few ways the length of your daily commute can have an impact on your life.
- A Gallup Poll reveals that commuters who are on the road more than 90 minutes are at a higher risk for chronic back or neck problems.
- The University of California, Los Angeles and California State University, Long Beach, conducted a study that revealed the distance a commuter drives each day to work had a stronger correlation with obesity that any other factor analyzed.
- Social geographer Erika Sandow discovered that when one partner in a marriage commutes longer than 45 minutes a day, there is a 40 percent greater chance the marriage will end in divorce.
- A report by Political Scientist Robert Putnam states a person’s number of social connections is tied to the amount of time they spend commuting. He found that for every 10 minutes a worker spends commuting, their social connections are decreased by 10 percent.
- Commuters with longer commutes experience increased feelings of anxiety, are more likely to feel tired, and experience less enjoyment.
- A report from Thomas James Christian of Brown University states that every minute a person spends commuting decrease the time they spend engaged in healthy activities, like resting, exercising, and preparing meals.
If you haven’t thought about how a long commute could be having a negative impact on your well-being and on your auto insurance rate, now is the time to do so. From carpooling to using mass transit, or even working a few days from home, you might be able to shorten your commute and increase your quality of life.
The 40 Best Commuter Cities in Texas
#1 – Vernon
The best commuter city in Texas is a charming small town that boasts closely knit neighborhoods and a vibrant business district. Three major highways run through the northern Texas city, which could be one reason the average commute time in Vernon is a mere 13.5 minutes. That’s almost 50 percent faster than it takes the typical American to get to the office. Even more impressive, nine in 10 Vernon residents make the trip in 29 minutes or less.
#2 – Plainview
With an average commute of only 15 minutes, Plainview residents can spend more time enjoying the good life, and less time behind the wheel. And that’s good news because there’s a lot to do in Plainview. The city has more than 20 parks, four lakes, and a wealth of community and cultural arts events. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Wal-Mart Distribution Center and Covenant Hospital are a few of the city’s major employers.
#3 – Snyder
Situated in the heart of west Texas, Snyder is a family-oriented community that offers an affordable cost of living and a crime rate that’s less than the national average. Nearly 70 percent of Snyder workers get to their place of employment in less than 15 minutes. When they do, many find themselves working in law enforcement, education, or the oil and gas industry.
#4 – Sweetwater
Sweetwater residents take great pride in their community’s award winning schools and family focused atmosphere. They can also brag that their hometown is the fourth best commuter city in Texas. Almost 85 percent of Sweetwater workers commute for less than 29 minutes, with the typical commute taking just 16 minutes. That’s 35 percent faster than the national average.
#5 – Nacogdoches
Noted as “the oldest town in Texas,” Nacogdoches is a great place to settle if you want to open a business and enjoy a short commute. In fact, its downtown district offers residents a variety of business boosting incentives and six in 10 workers get to their job in less than 15 minutes. Six highways intersect with the highway that surrounds Nacogdoches, making the drive easy for those who head out of town for work.
#6 – Brownwood
Located in the center of Texas, Brownwood is large enough to provider all the amenities you need, yet small enough that you know who your neighbors are. Offering award-winning schools, a low cost of living, and an impressive economic development corporation, Brownwood is a great place to settle if you’re an entrepreneur.
Brownwood residents who don’t work for themselves are often employed in manufacturing, administration, or construction related work. Kohler and 3M Company are two of the area’s biggest employers. The fact that it takes 16 minutes to get to work only adds to Brownwood’s appeal.
#7 – Kerrville
Situated in Texas Hill Country, Kerrville offers residents several parks perched on the banks of the beautiful Guadalupe River. The Kerrville River Hike and Bike Trail recently opened and a massive athletic sports complex is in the works.
Kerrville is also a place where a high percentage of people work from home. At 3.46 percent, the commuter friendly city of Kerrville has the second highest percentage of telecommuters of any city on our list. Those who head into the office may work in the medical field, as the area’s three major employers are Peterson Regional Medical Center, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, and Kerrville State Hospital.
#8 – College Station
In the heart of central Texas, you’ll find College Station. Famous as the home to Texas A&M University, the city of 100,000 residents also has a low crime rate, low tax rate, and an award winning local school district. Best yet, 92 percent of those who call College Station home get to work in less than 15 minutes. That’s the highest percentage among the 40 best commuter cities in Texas.
The city’s extensive Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Plan gives commuters a healthy way to commute and residents who choose to drive enjoy the convenience of a well-maintained network of highways. Brazos Transit District provides mass transportation throughout the city and a regional airport severs the needs of business travelers.
#9 – Big Spring
Known as the Crossroads of West Texas, Big Spring sits at the intersection of Highway 87 and Interstate 20. Its economy is diverse and some of the major industries in Big Spring are oil and gas, manufacturing, and wind energy production.
More than 15 percent of Big Spring residents share a ride to work. That’s 50 percent more than the percentage of carpoolers nationally. Sharing a ride is not only good for the environment, it also means less traffic congestion, and that could be why the typical Big Spring worker can get from home to work in an admirable 16.9 minutes.
#10 – Abilene
A wealth of festivals, a strong economy, and diverse housing are a few of the things that make locals proud to call Abilene home. They can also brag about short commutes, as nine in 10 Abilene workers get to their place of employment in less than 29 minutes.
A nationally recognized and revitalized downtown is the community’s core, and home to over 700 businesses and roughly 6,000 employees. In addition to upscale boutiques, book stores, and coffee shops, Abilene’s downtown also has a strong (and growing) telecommunications sector.
#11 – Mount Pleasant
Located in northeast Texas, Mount Pleasant is a nationally recognized Main Street community that offers an extensive park system and numerous green spaces. The average commute in Mount Pleasant is 17 minutes, which is eight minutes faster than how long it takes the typical American to get to work. Plus, one in five Mount Pleasant workers carpools. That’s more than twice the national average, and only one other city on our list, Jacksonville, has a higher carpooling percentage.
#12 – Brenham
Brenham in located halfway between Houston and Austin, in the heart of Texas bluebonnet country. Lush landscapes, safe streets, local wineries, and abundant recreational opportunities are a few of the perks of living in Brenham. A commute of just 17.2 minutes only adds to Brenham’s already top-notch quality of life.
From entry level jobs to advanced positions, Brenham offers residents a variety of opportunities so they don’t have to travel far to find work. The Brenham State Supported Living Center, Blue Bell Creameries, and Brenham Independent School District are the major employers in this city of 16,000 residents.
#13 – Lufkin
Located in the forested lake country of East Texas, Lufkin is a unique community where fascinating history, quiet neighborhoods, and dynamic business opportunities come together. It’s also a city where six out of 10 workers enjoys a commute that’s less than 15 minutes, and more than 16 percent of locals carpool.
#14 – Texarkana
Texarkana is a historically and culturally rich community of approximately 36,000 residents. Located in East Texas and bordering Arkansas, Texarkana is somewhat isolated, so many of its residents likely stick close to home for work. The city’s major employers include Red River Army Depot, Christus St. Michael Health System, and Cooper Tire and Rubber, which are all within a 10 minute drive from the city’s center.
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle or city life and want a commute of just 17 minutes, Texarkana could be your perfect destination.
#15 – Stephenville
Stephenville is touted as “the cowboy capital of the world” and its residents are full of pride. But they’re not the only ones who think highly of Stephenville. The city was named as one of the most desirable places to live and work, and was honored as one of “The 100 Best Small Towns in America.” One of the things that makes it the best is that 71 percent of its residents get to work in less than 15 minutes, so they spend 40 percent less time commuting than the average American.
#16 – Uvalde
Uvalde earns kudos for having the second lowest percentage of workers who commute alone, as well as one of the highest carpooling rates among the cities on our list. Situated in southern region of Texas Hill Country, Uvalde is a small town with big amenities, friendly folks, and a high percentage of workers who have a career in the field of education. Southwest Texas Junior College and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District are two of the community’s largest employers.
#17 – Eagle Pass
Nearly one in five Eagle Pass residents carpools to work, which is twice the national average. And the fact that so many workers share a ride means you won’t get stuck in traffic for long in Eagle Pass. In fact, locals spend 30 percent less time commuting to work than the typical American.
#18 – Lubbock
Of all the amazing commuter cities that made our list, Lubbock has one of the lowest percentages of people who commute for 60 minutes or more. Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University, which is the city’s biggest employer. Covenant Health System and the Lubbock Independent School District also employ a significant number of Lubbock residents. Due to the large number of jobs in education and healthcare, we weren’t surprised to discover that nearly three out of 10 adults in Lubbock have a college degree.
#19 – Pampa
The second largest city in the Texas Panhandle, Pampa has a reputation for “real Texas hospitality.”
An affordable cost of living, sweeping landscapes, and a diversified economy are a few of the reasons why those who settle in Pampa are happy they did. Another benefit of living in Pampa is that there’s a 60 percent chance your trip to work will take less than 15 minutes.
#20 – San Angelo
The average commute in San Angelo takes 18 minutes. Even more impressive is the fact that five in 10 San Angelo citizens commute for less than 15 minutes and nine in 10 make the trip in less than 29 minutes.
The friendly commuter city of San Angelo has an enviable cost of living, award-winning medical facilities, and diverse recreational opportunities. Plus, a house in San Angelo is roughly 20 percent less expensive than the national average.
#21 – Wichita Falls
The Sheppard Air Force Base is the city’s largest employer. Jobs in security, healthcare, aerospace, and education are also common in Wichita Falls. It’s a good thing residents only spend 18 minutes getting to work in Wichita Falls, because there’s a lot to do in this top commuter city. Much of Wichita Falls’ activities involve recreation, and its Recreation Division recently won the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Gold Medal City Award for superior programming.
#22 – Borger
Borger is a rural community located in the Texas Panhandle. It sits approximately 45 miles northeast of Amarillo and 20 miles west of Lake Meredith, one the state’s most treasured national recreation areas. Small, friendly, and affordable, Borger also boasts an average of 263 days of sunshine per year.
The usual commute in Borger is 18.3 minutes and 13 percent of workers carpool to the office. If you settle in Borger, there’s an 84 percent chance you’ll get to work in less than 29 minutes.
#23 – Port Lavaca
Port Lavaca is situated in the middle of the state’s Gulf coast. And it’s a great place to live and work if you want to say so-long to road rage and hello to the waterfront. Top ranked schools, a booming economy, and a wealth of housing options are more reasons to fall in love with Port Lavaca. Only two percent of Port Lavaca residents commute for 60 minutes or longer and half of all residents get to work in less than 15 minutes.
#24 – Odessa
With an average commute time of 18 minutes, residents of Odessa get to the office seven minutes faster than workers in other communities across the nation. In Odessa, the electronics, construction, and oil and gas industries are major employers. Saulsbury Companies, Halliburton Services, and Weatherford are three of the city’s largest private employers.
#25 – Bryan
Billed as offering “the good life, Texas style” Bryan is an excellent place to settle down if you want to spend more time relaxing and less time commuting. In fact, call Bryan home and there’s a 90 percent chance you’ll commute for less than 29 minutes.
You’ll also be able to brag that you live in a community that’s getting a slew of accolades. In addition to being named one the nation’s best-performing metro areas, Bryan is also ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.
#26 – Fredericksburg
Texas Hill Country’s unofficial hub of food and wine, Fredericksburg made a name for itself as a romantic and charming town that offers a quality of life that’s hard to find. It’s a particularly appealing place to call home if you’re finishing up your career and looking for a place to retire. In addition to being a safe city, Fredericksburg is listed as one of the “10 Best Retirement Cities to Consider” by “USA Today” and “Forbes” named it one of the “25 Best Places to Retire in 2014.” And if you aren’t quite ready to retire, you’ll only be commuting an average of 18.7 minutes to get to work in Fredericksburg.
#27 – Sulphur Springs
Sulphur Springs hosts more than 300 events each year, earning it the nickname “Celebration City.” A newly revitalized downtown, steady population growth, and a lower than average cost of living are a few of the reasons Sulphur Springs was honored by “County Line Magazine” as the “Most Improved Small Town” in the region. An average commute of 18.7 minutes only adds the Sulphur Springs already strong appeal.
#28 – Midland
Midland is located in West Texas, along Interstate 20 and halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas. Major employers in Midland include the Midland Independent School District, Warren Equipment Companies, and Midland Memorial Hospital.
Midland proves that large cities and long commutes don’t always go hand in hand. Despite a population of more than 120,000 people, Midland residents enjoy a commute that’s roughly five minutes shorter than the typical American’s.
#29 – Del Rio
Home to Laughlin Air Force Base, it’s no surprise that nearly 3,000 of Del Rio residents are employed by the government. For those who want to open their own business, the city’s progressive Development Services department is a great source of information. An impressive 17 percent of Del Rio workers carpool, and just four percent commute for longer than 60 minutes.
#30 – Kilgore
Kilgore has distinct small town appeal. An affordable cost of living, new housing, and a school district that boasts some of the highest test scores in the state, it’s easy to see why Kilgore residents are full of pride.
Situated in the eastern part of the state, Kilgore has convenient access to Interstate 20 and is surrounded by a handful of communities, such as Longview and Tyler. Its stellar location could be one reason why Kilgore has a low unemployment rate and an average commute of 19.1 minutes.
#31 – Amarillo
The Texas Panhandle city of Amarillo is the 14th most populated city in the state. Whether its entertainment or shopping, educational opportunities or recreation, Amarillo offers everything you could want from a big city without losing any small town charm.
The city’s mass transit bus service and a high rate of carpoolers helps alleviate congestion on the roads, and that could be why four out of 10 Amarillo citizens get from home to the office in less than 15 minutes.
#32 – Waco
From the Waco Mammoth Site to Cameron Park Zoo, the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course to endless shopping, every member of your family will find something they love in Waco. And thanks to a commute that’s six minutes faster than the national average, you’ll have the time to enjoy Waco’s treasures. Home to Baylor University, it’s fitting that a number of residents work in the education field, but healthcare and local government jobs are also numerous.
#33 – Kingsville
Kingsville has a rich history and a strong commitment to the future. It’s also known for its robust educational system, growing economy, and small town ambiance. Best yet, the ride to work takes less than 20 minutes.
Several leading institutions are located in Kingsville, offering locals a variety of jobs. Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Coastal Bend College, King Ranch, the City of Kingsville and Kleberg County are some of the area’s major employers. NAS Kingsville is located less than five miles from the city center and employs nearly 2,000 people, which is roughly one in 10 Kingsville residents. Also located in Kingsville are the National Natural Toxins Research Center and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.
#34 – Henderson
Situated in the piney woods of East Texas, Henderson is dotted with lovely historic buildings and locally owned shops. Settle in Henderson and there’s a 60 percent chance it will take you less than 15 minutes to get from your driveway to the office. Jobs in the field of corrections, healthcare, and education are common in Henderson.
#35 – Jacksonville
A small town located in East Texas, Jacksonville deserves a shout-out for having the highest percent of carpoolers on our list. At 20.79 percent, twice as many people carpool in Jacksonville than in the typical U.S. city. Jacksonville also had the lowest percentage of workers who commute alone, at 72.50 percent.
Jacksonville’s economy is strong, thanks to a diverse business base that includes a number of manufacturers and bedding plant industries. An outstanding school system and the fact that Jacksonville is a Go Texan Certified Retirement Community means Jacksonville has something to offer for you, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
#36 – Dumas
Slightly more than 20 percent of Dumas workers carpool to their place of employment. That’s not only twice the national average, it’s also one of the highest carpooling rates of any city on our list. In addition to a fast commute, Dumas residents enjoy safe streets. In fact, the crime rate in Dumas is nearly 40 percent less than that of the typical American city.
#37 – University Park
University Park is a progressive, inner Dallas suburb that’s often cited as one of the most attractive cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The typical University Park resident drives for 19.5 minutes from home to the workplace. But almost seven percent never leave the house, as they work from home. That means University Park has 70 percent more telecommuters than the average city on our list. University Park also has one of the lowest percentages of workers who endure a commute of an hour or more, and the highest rate of mass transit users.
#38 – Temple
Temple is recognized as the demographic center of the state. This city has a highly diversified economic base that includes a number of large manufacturers, such as Wilsonart International, Texas Hydraulics, and C&H Die Casting. But jobs in logistics, healthcare services, and the military are also numerous. In fact, Ft. Hood, the largest military base in the world, is located within commuting distance. More than 80 percent of Temple residents can reach work in less than 29 minutes and half get there in less than 15 minutes.
#39 – Burkburnett
Roughly 40 percent of Burkburnett residents commute for less than 15 minutes, and only Vernon, the best commuter city in Texas, has a lower percentage of workers who travel for an hour or more to get to work.
Settle in Burkburnett and you can expect to enjoy a family friendly atmosphere, a first-rate school district, and a crime rate lower than the national average. More perks of living and working in Burkburnett include an affordable cost of living and a rising median household income.
#40 – Harlingen
If you want to stretch your paycheck and enjoy a short drive to work, you owe it to yourself to get to know “the capital of the Rio Grande Valley.” Harlingen was honored by CBS News as having a lower cost of living than any other city in the nation. In fact, the standard of living for the typical professional worker costs 17 percent less to maintain in Harlingen. Settle in this economical town and there’s an eight in 10 chance you can make it to the office in less than 29 minutes.
Which are the Worst Commuter Cities in Texas?
When it comes to choosing a place to call home, some workers forfeit a short commute to gain access to other things that are important to their family’s quality of life, such as higher paying jobs or living near relatives. So, while the average commute time among the worst commuter cities in Texas is almost twice that of the best commuter cities in the state, we have no doubt they’re still good places to call home.
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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Texas cities whose population exceeded 10,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report.