10 Best -- & Worst -- Cities in America to Raise a Family (Is It Time to Move?)

10 Best -- & Worst -- Cities in America to Raise a Family (Is It Time to Move?)


Choosing the ideal place to raise your family is one of the biggest decisions we make as parents. After all, few things affect the quality of your family's life as much as where that life is being lived -- but how can you tell if your kids will thrive in the city of your dreams? WalletHub looked at a variety of factors, including the cost of housing, the quality of local school and health care systems, and "family fun" opportunities, and ranked the 150 most populated cities in the US in terms of just how family-friendly they truly are.

One of the most interesting things about these findings is that how the cities rated apparently had little to do with the region; great (and not-so-great) cities can be found all over the map. WalletHub's rankings took into consideration these five key factors:

  1. Family Fun: Everything from the number of playgrounds to the percentage of families with children under 17.
  2. Health & Safety: From air and water quality to violent crime stats.
  3. Education & Child Care: This included WalletHub's "School Systems" Ranking, as a well as factors like affordable childcare and the high school graduation rate.
  4. Affordability: Factors like housing and the cost of living.
  5. Socioeconomic Environment: This is all about the social environment, from divorce rate to the percentage of families living below the poverty line.


good cities for families

Read on to find out if you should start browsing the real estate section now -- or if you're already in the perfect place to put down roots! (And check out the full list of cities and their rankings here.)


Image via iStock.com/Geber86

  • #10 Worst City for Families: Augusta, Georgia

    augusta, georgie
    Image via Dizzy Girl/Flickr

    Augusta may be lovely, but it ranked #100 in terms of health and safety for family, and #111 for affordability -- meaning the city could definitely do a lot better!

  • #9 Worst City for Families: North Las Vegas, Nevada

    north las vegas
    Image via Lauri Vain/Flickr

    There are no lack of children in North Las Vegas -- the city came in at #5 for "most families with kids" -- but since it was ranked as the 115th most affordable city, that means there's no lack of stressed-out parents, either (also because education and childcare systems are #148). 

  • #8 Worst City for Families: Shreveport, Louisiana

    shreveport louisiana
    Image via Blake Lewis/Flickr

    If you're looking for a good time, maybe don't go to Shreveport: In the "family fun" category, the city came in at #95. That's no fun at all!

    More from CafeMom: The 10 Best -- & Worst -- States for Working Moms 

  • #7 Worst City for Families: Fresno, California

    fresno, california
    Image via Great Valley Center/Flickr

    Families hoping to stretch their dollar might want to avoid moving to Fresno: The California city was ranked #140 in the "affordability" column.

  • #6 Worst City for Families: Miami, Florida

    miami, florida
    Image via Liliana/Flickr

    Even less affordable than Fresno at #148, Miami also has one of the lowest median family salaries in the country. At least there are palm trees ... 

  • #5 Worst City for Families: Cleveland, Ohio

    cleveland, ohio
    Image via Erik Drost/Flickr

    With one of the highest percentages of families living below the poverty level in the country, Cleveland also has THE highest divorce rate of all the cities analyzed.

    More from CafeMom: 10 Best & Worst States for Schools -- Is Yours on the List?

  • #4 Worst City for Families: Hialeah, Florida

    hialeah, florida
    Image via Phillip Pessar/Flickr

    According to this study, kids living in Hialeah must be pretty bored: The Florida city has remarkably few playgrounds per capita and very few attractions for families in general (#147 on the list).

  • #3 Worst City for Families: Detroit, Michigan

    detroit, michigan
    Image via Michigan Municipal League/Flickr

    Interestingly, while Detroit has the highest violent crime rate per capita in the country, it also has the third highest number of playgrounds (too bad playing outside is such a scary prospect!).

  • #2 Worst City for Families: San Bernardino, California

    san bernardino, california
    Image via Raymond Shobe/Flickr

    Talk about a bad combination: San Bernardino has lots of poverty, and not a lot of playgrounds. 

    More from CafeMom: Best & Worst States at Dealing With Bullying: How Scary Is It Where You Live?

  • #1 Worst City for Families: Birmingham, Alabama

    birmingham, alabama
    Image via James Willamor/Flickr

    Winning the dubious honor of being the worst city for families in America, Birmingham has especially high rates of violent crime and divorce, and it's not particularly affordable either.

  • #10 Best City for Families: Fremont, California

    fremont, california
    Image via Yong Thye/Flickr

    Fremont got super high ratings in two super important areas, with the second lowest percentage of families living below poverty level in the country and the fourth lowest violent crime rate per capita. Fremont also has THE lowest divorce rate in the country!

  • #9 Best City for Families: Colorado Springs, Colorado

    colorado springs, colorado
    Image via David Jones/Flickr

    Beautiful Colorado Springs got high ratings for its education and health care system. (Maybe because everybody's in such great shape from spending all that time in the great outdoors!)

    More from CafeMom: 10 Best & 10 Worst States for Poor Kids to Live In: Is Yours on the List? 

  • #8 Best City for Families: Omaha, Nebraska

    omaha nebraska
    Image via Pat Hawks/Flickr

    The tenth most affordable city for families in the country, Omaha also has the fifth highest number of playgrounds per capita. Good fun, on the cheap!

  • #7 Best City for Families: Aurora, Illinois

    aurora, illinois
    Image via Doug Kerr/Flickr

    If making lots of friends is important to you, head to Aurora. The city is home to the most families with kids in the country!

  • #6 Best City for Families: Lincoln, Nebraska

    lincoln, nebraska
    Image via RLEVENS/Flickr

    The state capital of Nebraska, Lincoln was ranked the 8th most affordable city for families in the country, with a low percentage of parents and kids living under the poverty line (and a low separation and divorce rate).

    More from CafeMom: 10 Best & Worst States to Raise a Girl: Is Yours on the List?

  • #5 Best City for Families: Virginia Beach, Virginia

    virginia beach
    Image via John Getchel/Flickr

    Congrats to Virginia Beach for being nabbing the #3 spot for healthiest and/or safest city for families (and for looking like a postcard!).

  • #4 Best City for Families: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

    sioux falls, south dakota
    Image via Jerry/Flickr

    Get more real estate bang for your buck in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which came in as having the third most affordable housing for families in the country.

  • #3 Best City for Families: Plano, Texas

    plano, texas
    Image via Matt Hollingsworth/Flickr

    If you've never heard of Plano, Texas, you might be missing out: The city has the #1 most affordable housing in the country and has the second highest median family salary (plus low rates of divorce and poverty).

    More from CafeMom: 10 States That Vaccinate the Most & the Least -- Is Yours on the List?

  • #2 Best City for Families: Madison, Wisconsin

    madison, wisconsin
    Image via gbozik photography/Flickr

    Budget-friendly and safe with stellar school systems and plenty of playgrounds, Madison, Wisconsin, is the second best city for families -- not too shabby!

  • #1 Best City for Families: Overland Park, Kansas

    overland park, kansas
    Image via Chris Murphy/Flickr

    Congratulations, Overland Park, Kansas, for winning the title of #1 Best City in America for Families -- and for having the LOWEST percentage of families living below the poverty level! BRB, packing our bags.

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