Thoughts of Aledo conjure visions of bucolic country life. This small city just west of Fort Worth is growing rapidly, and so is the area around it that falls into the Aledo ZIP code and the Aledo Independent School District.

“Aledo has an estimated build-out population of 13,000 plus,” says Mayor Kit Marshall. “Aledo has a substantial ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) area to grow into and has secured agreements with the surrounding cities, so that there are few questions concerning jurisdictions.” Aledo’s population was estimated at 2,780 in 2012.

A city’s ETJ is defined in Texas law based on population and authorizes a city to annex unincorporated nearby land under specific conditions.

Marshall says Aledo has been planning for future growth for a number of years, working on and planning infrastructure to support additional population. The Aledo Economic Development Corp. completed a Strategic Plan in 2010 that calls for an aggressive residential development and commercial development marketing program.

“Of course, the Aledo Independent School District, an excellent school district, is a major economic engine for the Aledo community, and many locate in Aledo for this reason,” Marshall said.

The Aledo ZIP code area covers much of southeast Parker County and has become a destination for upwardly mobile families. Median household income in the Aledo ISD was $95,170 in 2010, and the median house price in the district was $229,400. It is a Recognized district by the Texas Education Agency, and ranks it 256th out of 1,257 ranked districts in Texas.

Widening of FM 1187 to four lanes from I-20 through the Historic Downtown area is also a growth factor.

“The lifestyle in Aledo is very family oriented with opportunities for involvement in the many school and church activities for families and children of all ages,” Marshall says. “The Strategic Plan also incorporated the stated desire to increase activities to support the family values so evident throughout the community.”

The location is strategic also because it is a 20-minute drive from the Fort Worth and Weatherford downtown areas.

Like Weatherford and other cities on this list, Aledo has worked to protect and expand its downtown area, staging festivals designed to bring people to downtown for entertainment and shopping experiences.

“My favorite annual event is Christmas Tyme in Aledo, held the first Saturday in December of each year,” Marshall says. “Unique Christmas decorations, lights, entertainment and delicious food are the signature of this wonderful event each year! It involves the merchants in Historic Downtown Aledo as well as businesses located on the north and south sides of the city.”

An annual Arts and Crafts Fair at the Aledo Community Center takes place that same day. During the summer, the city hosts First Friday events that include vendors from outside the city as well as local businesses. The events include free concerts and special events targeted to the months of June, July and August.