As a child, living in an area where I felt safe seemed like the norm. It never crossed my mind that the city and neighborhood I lived indirectly affected my safety. But my parents knew this, and if you have kids then you understand it too. It’s not only important to find a safe city, but also a city you can afford where your kids can have access to a good school.
Whether you’re thinking of starting a family or you already have a child or two, check out the cities that make the best fit for kids and parents. Who knows—a move may be in your future once you get to the bottom of this list.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best cities for raising a family:
1. Gilbert, AZ
The numbers don’t lie: this picturesque town-turned-suburb is the perfect place to raise your family. Gilbert’s growth has skyrocketed in the last twenty years, and for good reason: Gilbert’s got it all. Gilbert schools are highly ranked, crime rates are low, and kids are everywhere. Plus, Gilbert’s family friendly activities mean that parents can always keep their kids busy and entertained.
2. Chandler, AZ
Chandler comes in at number two on our list, and we think it may have something to do with the Arizona sunshine. Like Gilbert, Chandler boasts an excellent school system and a low crime rate, but for many professionals, Chandler also offers a shorter commute to the Phoenix area and the local university. Gilbert barely edged Chandler out in a few categories, but, speaking as an Arizona native, the difference between Chandler and Gilbert is so small that both of these cities are a number one in my book.
3. El Paso, TX
El Paso’s location on the tip of Texas, bordering both New Mexico and Mexico, has turned the city into a beautiful blend of culture. The best part is that El Paso is one of the most affordable cities on our list so you won’t have to break the bank to live here. One of the coolest things about raising a family in El Paso is the number of festivals and events happening year round. Keeping the kids busy just got easier.
4. Plano, TX
It’s hard to compete with Plano’s solid educational system, as evidenced by their coming in at #2 in the school category. Parents in Plano take pride in their children’s education, and as a result,Plano has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the nation. Additionally, thanks to the high value locals place on education, schools have the funding and support needed to offer plenty of summer camps, sports, and other extracurricular activities for the kids.
5. Boise, ID
Boise’s low cost of living and great school rankings make this city a family’s dream come true. Education needn’t be sacrificed for this price tag. Over the years, Boise has turned into the city for fans of the great outdoors, guaranteeing that your family can bike the trails in the morning and dinner in the city all in the same day. Families can also attend sporting events at the Albertson’s Stadium to cheer on the Boise State Broncos.
6. Glendale, AZ
You may know Glendale for hosting the 2008 and 2015 Super Bowl games, but Glendale is also a great place to raise a family—especially if you love sports. The University of Phoenix stadium is home to the Arizona Cardinals, and it hosts other sporting events throughout the year that make for perfect family outings. Best of all, Glendale ranked at the top of our list for lowest number of violent crimes, making it the safest big city for your family.
7. Laredo, TX
Laredo makes the list for the high number of children within its city limits and its low cost of living. Zillow currently lists the average home in Laredo at $112,100, and many of these homes have at least three bedrooms. Families in Laredo look forward to the annual George Washington celebration as well as a celebration of Cesar Chavez.
8. Garland, TX
Garland’s low crime rate and affordability couple together to turn the city into a favorite for families with kids in the elementary school age range. With 6 recreation centers and over 40 parks, Garland’s residents can easily enjoy the outdoors without ever leaving the city. Best of all, parents can have a night out at Firewheel Town Center. It’s a win-win for everyone in the family.
9. Irving, TX
Irving’s proximity to the Dallas/Fort Worth area means that your family is always close to an adventure just waiting to happen. Despite its urban setting, Irving boasts some great outdoor attractions for families. Visit Irving’s gondolas at the Mandalay Canal or take a bike ride with the kids on the Campión Trails.
10. Bakersfield, CA
California is known for having a higher cost of living compared to most states, but Bakersfield’s diverse economy makes this city surprisingly affordable for a family. In addition to its affordability, Bakersfield has plenty of museums and parks to keep kids entertained. Bakersfield ranked highly in our “number of children” category, indicating that families with kids thrive in this large, but tight-knit, community.
You may have noticed that Arizona and Texas dominated our list, and there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, 19 of the 100 cities considered were located in Arizona and Texas. That’s one-fifth of the list alone. Second, and most important of all, the Texas and Arizona cities on this list genuinely performed well in the categories that carried the most weight, and that can’t be denied.
If you live in these cities, do you agree or disagree with our rankings? Leave a comment and tell us why your city is the best.
How we ranked them
Using a list of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S., we ranked them from one to 100 in the categories below and weighed each one accordingly.
- Violent crimes per 100,000 residents (20%) – Living in a city where you and your family feel safe takes priority once you have children. As a result, our rankings weighed this data most heavily. Data was collected from the FBI.
- School rankings (18%) – Once you feel sure your family is going to be safe, then school rankings take priority. We weighed schools right below violent crime, collecting data from SchoolDigger.
- Cost of living for two adults and two kids (16%) – In an ideal world, you would spare no expense for your child’s well-being, but sparing no expense isn’t possible when you’re on a budget. Data was collected from the EPI Calculator.
- Number of kids ages 6 to 11 (12%); ages 10 to 18 (10%); ages 0 to 5 (8%) – Kids need other kids to play with, especially once they enter elementary school. For this category, we looked at the percentage of the population that was composed of children in different age groups. Data was collected from the Census Bureau.*
- Number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents (6%) – Playgrounds give your kids a place to run, play, and tire themselves out, which is always important. Data was collected from The Trust for Public Land.
- Number of grocery stores (5%) – If you can’t make it to the nearest grocery store in under ten minutes, your family needs to plan accordingly. We gathered this data from the Census Bureau.
- Number of daycares (5%) – We know that quality matters over quantity when it comes to daycares, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few nearby options. Data collected from the Census Bureau.
*Data collected from the Census Bureau was from 2014, with the exception of Lexington, KY; Nashville, TN; Anchorage, AK; Louisville, KY; and Honolulu, HI.
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