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The 10 Best Cities to Raise Children

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What made us happy as children? Well depending on who you are it could be a vast number of things; simply reading our favorite book, playing a sport with our friends, watching Hey Arnold!, or even playing catch with your Dad.

There are many things about the city in which we grew up that played a part in our happiness as well. Did we feel safe? Did we have opportunity to get a good education? These ten cities, according to our study, are the best at ensuring a quality childhood, and peace of mind for the parents raising them.

Here’s How We Ranked Them

We started with a list of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. and ranked them from one to 100 in each of the following categories:

  • Crime Rate – Your child’s safety is something that is always on your mind. It doesn’t matter if he or she is five or 50, you hope they are staying safe. So we examined crime rate as an important criteria. Data found on neighborhoodscout.com.
  • Public School Ranking – Education is important as well. You’d like your child to be able to survive a college classroom, and that’s where being prepared comes in. Numbers from schooldigger.com, which explains how they rank the schools here.
  • Public Parks Per Capita – Children getting exercise is of big significance as well. It keeps them healthy, and it helps the parents stay happy. Public parks are an excellent, and free, way to do that. Data found through Yelp.
  • Average Family Salary – Being able to afford a couple of luxuries, like a television or a new baseball bat and glove, can really help the “fun” factor that goes along with growing up. This is the average salary based on a family household. Numbers from the Census website.
  • Cost of Living – In order to balance out annual salary, we looked the cost of living in each city as well. Data attained through Area Vibes website.

After establishing a ranking for each of those categories, We assigned a score to each city for those categories as well. Once those were added up, We divided the sum into an average; the lower that average was the better.

1. Scottsdale, AZ

Sunny Scottsdale was able to vault to the number one spot by ranking first in average family income. At more than $136,000 annually, it certainly helps to afford the cost of living. You could even take the kids to a tournament at TPC Scottsdale; or perhaps, even play it. The city also ranked fourth in the public schools category.

2. Fremont, CA

The fourth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay area, Fremont ranked in the top five in three separate categories. Other than having a couple of claims to fame – like being the site of the Apple factory where the first Mac computer was produced – the city proved to be a wonderful place to raise your children as well. They ranked third in the crime rate category.

3. Irvine, CA

It has been well established that Irvine is home to quality public schooling; they ranked sixth in CNNMoney’s study of best places to live in the U.S., partly because of their schools. This study proved no different, as they ranked number one in that category. They also ranked second in average income, so jobs there afford the working parent an opportunity to give their children a couple of luxuries.

4. Chandler, AZ

The second Arizona city to make the top five, Chandler is a technology goldmine, as it hosts satellite offices for Intel and Orbital Sciences Corporation, as well as manufacturing plants for Microchip and Motorola. The city ranked 14th in crime rate and 15th in average income, showing that safety and that all of those with the tech jobs can afford to make sure their family lives well.

5. Raleigh, NC

It makes sense that Raleigh would appear on this list, especially when you consider they are a part of the Research Triangle, which contain the universities of Duke, North Carolina and of course, North Carolina State. So it’s no surprise they ranked eighth in the public schools category. They also were the best of the top ten in the cost of living category.

6. Plano, TX

Another city that could be considered a corporate mecca, Plano hosts the headquarters of Pizza Hut, J.C. Penney and Toyota, just to name a few. So it makes sense that the city ranked sixth in the average income category. They also ranked sixth in crime rate, so it is easy to feel safe in the only Midwestern town to make the list.

7. San Diego, CA

As anyone who lives there will tell you, the beach and sunshine is worth the higher cost of living. San Diego is not all about surf and sand though, as it is also an excellent place to raise your children. They have ample opportunity to stay healthy, as they ranked eighth in public parks per capita. They also ranked 11th in average income.

8. Honolulu, HI

A city many have visited, Honolulu was a “tourist” town that we did not expect on this list. But they proved themselves worthy as they ranked 11th in the public schools category. They were also the best of the top ten in public parks per capita, ranking third. But kids wouldn’t need park space to stay healthy, as there is obviously ample opportunity for surfing and swimming as well.

9. Henderson, NV

With the motto “a place to call home,” the second largest city in Nevada came in ninth on the list. Henderson had an exceptionally low crime rate, ranking fourth, and also had a very good public school ranking, coming in at sixth. It makes sense that its crime rate was low, as Forbes Magazine ranked the city the second safest in the country. This was partly attributed to its high median income.

10. San Jose, CA

Known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” San Jose rounds out the top ten. The third largest city in California, this is another city with a lot of tech and electronic industries. It is known for having a fairly high cost of living, but balances that with high income; it ranked eighth in that category. It also ranked 14th and 18th in public schools and public parks per capita, respectively.

Safety and Education

It became clear very quickly these two things were the most important of the five criteria we used to judge the best cities to raise your children. No city ranked worse than 28th in crime rate, and all cities were 17th or better in public school rank. It seems that parents are concerned with these two things the most, so it was no surprise it was a huge factor. What did surprise us was that every city in the top ten had a relatively high cost of living, but we surmised that this was simply due to the high average income, and that you possibly have to pay a little more for the perks.

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