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2016 Best Cities for Young Families

By: Andrew Woo
February 18, 2016

At Apartment List, we know that people care about a lot of factors when they're searching for a home. Everyone wants a great apartment at a great price, but families look for different things in a city than young singles. Last year, we released our list of the best cities for young families; this year, we refreshed our analysis with the latest and greatest data to help you make the best decision for your loved ones.


Our analysis centered around the 4 factors that we identified as being important to families:

  • Safety (35%): We used FBI data to rank cities by the number of violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 residents.

  • Housing Cost (30%): We used census data to calculate the percentage of the median renter income required to rent a 2-bedroom apartment.

  • School Quality (25%): Cities were ranked on high school graduation rate for public school districts based in that city. Comparing schools across different states can be challenging, but using high school graduation rate data from the Department of Education gives us a good estimate of overall school quality.

  • Child Friendliness (10%): Communities with a greater percentage of children tend to be more child friendly, so we used census data to score cities based on the percentage of the population that's under 18.

We weighted these factors using the percentages listed above, and used this index to assign grades and rankings to the nearly 500 cities in our study. On to the results!

Allen, TX takes #1, with Indy and Dallas suburbs also doing exceptionally well

Looking at our rankings, Allen, TX took first place (up from second last year), with two Indianapolis suburbs (Fishers and Carmel) in second and third place respectively. Four of the top ten cities were from the Dallas metro. Small to mid-sized cities in affordable states were generally better for young families_—_cities in Idaho, Texas, Arizona, and Kansas did particularly well.

Overall, large cities tended not to do very well_—_they are relatively expensive, and have higher crime rates and lower education scores than their surrounding suburbs. New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco all received a B- or worse.

St. Louis, Cleveland, and Birmingham are the worst cities for young families

At the other end of the the spectrum were cities like St. Louis, Cleveland, and Birmingham. These were cities with low safety scores (St. Louis had 7,913 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents), poor schools, and low incomes relative to the cost of rent. There were also several larger cities that performed poorly - Washington DC, Oakland, and Miami all ranked poorly on the safety and cost of living components of our index, and received F grades on our list. Conclusion If you're looking for the perfect place for your family, Texas (especially the Dallas metro) is probably a good place to start, although there are many good options in Arizona, Idaho, California, and almost every other state across the country as well. Want more specifics? We've included our full data for 473 cities below. As always, Apartment List is here to help you find the perfect place for your family!

Crime Score
Child Score
Education Score
Housing Score
Total Score
1Allen, TX9696.499.796.797.2A+
2Fishers, IN97.998.986.79995.5A+
3Carmel, IN9986.198.791.295.3A+
4Frisco, TX86.499.199.197.994.3A+
5San Ramon, CA97.59399.585.794A+
6McKinney, TX8497.497.898.293.1A+
7O'Fallon, MO94.889.88195.291A+
8Flower Mound, TX98.293.667.399.290.3A+
9Naperville, IL96.381.697.679.890.2A+
10Pearland, TX7988.698.197.190.2A+
Apartments for rent in our top cities
Atlanta, GA