Home
Renter Life
Start your apartment search. How many bedrooms do you need?
0
studio
1
1 bed
2
2 bed
3+
3+ bed

Best Cities for Families 2019

April 17, 2019

Jessico Rockowitz. Unsplash

At Apartment List, we know that when you have a family, they are your everything. If you are looking for a new place to call home, finding somewhere that your family will thrive is the number one priority.

Sure, scoring a place that gets you the most out of your buck is nice, but your family’s comfort, safety and future in the neighborhood is of the utmost importance.

To help you with the decision, we've compiled a list of the best cities for families. If you’re looking for a family-friendly city to move to, search no longer.

Methodology

Our index is calculated based on a weighting of 4 factors that are of particular importance to families:

  • Safety (35%): We used FBI data to rank cities by the total number of violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 residents.[1]
  • Housing Affordability (30%): We used Census data on median gross rent as a percentage of household income as an indicator of housing affordability in each city. This measure takes into account not only how expensive rents are, but how well they are balanced with earnings.[2]
  • Education Quality (25%): Comparing schools across different states can be challenging due to differing education requirements. We used data collected by the Department of Education on high school graduation rates, as a proxy for overall school quality. Cities were ranked by the graduation rates of their respective public school districts.[3]
  • Child Friendliness (10%): Communities with a greater percentage of children tend to be more family-friendly, so we used Census data to score cities based on the percentage of the population under age 19.[4]

Our family-friendliness index is calculated using the factor weights listed above, and cities are ranked and graded based on that overall score. We’ve analyzed data for over 500 cities, and this is what we found:

Fishers, IN came in as #1 overall. The state of Texas dominates the Top 10, with the exception of San Ramon, CA, which placed as #3.

Two Indiana cities took the first two spots on our Top 10 list of best cities for families. Fishers and Carmel both received A+ grades (and the highest weighted scores of over 96 out of 100), making them the best ranked out of 552 cities.

A booming suburb in Indiana, Fishers boasts a growing job market and entrepreneurial spirit, a redeveloped downtown, and good schools. To make things even better, the city has a low cost of living, ranking in the top 10 for being one of the most affordable cities for families.

The remaining 10 spots were mostly occupied by Texas cities, with only one Californian city breaking into the Top 10.

Santa Cruz, CA came in last out of 552 surveyed cities. It received an F as its overall grade, with the numbers not looking too promising. Santa Cruz currently has 6,284 crimes per 100,000 residence.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade
1 Fishers, IN 98.6 89.6 96.1 97.5 96.69 A+
2 Carmel, IN 99.5 79.1 96.1 98.2 96.155 A+
3 San Ramon, CA 89 92.1 96.1 94.2 92.905 A+
4 Flower Mound, TX 87.5 81.3 97.4 97.3 92.785 A+
5 Naperville, IL 93.3 66.9 98.7 95.5 92.78 A+
6 Newton, MA 95 52.4 94 98.8 91.82 A+
7 Cedar Park, TX 89 95.2 94 90.6 91.43 A+
8 League City, TX 92.6 97.6 91.4 87.3 90.945 A+
9 Mansfield, TX 83.9 90.7 88.2 95 89.54 A
10 O'Fallon, MO 92.1 91.4 72 94.6 87.88 A

Virginia Beach, VA took first place for being the most family-friendly city among the 50 largest cities in our study.

Some families want to live in more urban areas, so we also ranked the 50 largest cities in our study by family-friendliness. Among them, Virginia Beach, VA took first place.

Virginia Beach is a resort city. Its abundance of family entertainment and fresh air make it an attractive place to raise kids. It also ranked rather highly for affordability, with median rents in Virginia Beach around $1,070 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1,280 for a two-bedroom. Check out the rest of the list of the 50 biggest cities in our study ranked according to family-friendliness factors.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade Population
1 Virginia Beach, VA 76.3 34.3 63.3 79.5 69.97 B+ 450435
2 El Paso, TX 48.5 82.3 33.2 76.5 57.855 B 683577
3 Oklahoma City, OK 83.4 77.4 63.3 23.8 56.915 B 643648
4 San Jose, CA 51 33.2 66.9 57.4 55.435 B 1035317
5 Dallas, TX 75.4 64 58 32.4 54.86 B 1341075
6 Austin, TX 72.8 23 66.9 39.3 54.62 B 950715
7 San Diego, CA 39.4 19.9 54 75.9 53.875 B 1419516
8 Fort Worth, TX 68.1 82.5 43.7 34.9 51.82 B 874168
9 Philadelphia, PA 41.2 37.5 97.4 30.9 51.275 B 1580863
10 Denver, CO 74.1 14.1 66.9 26 49.465 B- 704621
11 Arlington, TX 56.9 84.7 43.7 36.9 49.38 B- 396394
12 Tampa, FL 31.3 35.2 33.2 76.1 47.845 B- 385430
13 Mesa, AZ 46.5 71.6 11.9 65.2 46.905 B- 496401
14 Washington, DC 69.2 10.5 79.3 14.6 46.745 B- 693972
15 Omaha, NE 85.7 66.6 19.9 24 45.745 B- 466893
16 Colorado Springs, CO 35.8 54.6 66.9 35.8 45.455 B- 464474
17 New York, NY 43.1 21.9 5.9 81.4 45.085 B- 8622698
18 Las Vegas, NV 58.5 51.9 33.2 40 45.04 B- 641676
19 Louisville, KY 85.7 45.5 24.1 19.3 43.04 B- 621349
20 Columbus, OH 83.4 50.8 17 24.7 42.995 B- 879170
21 Charlotte, NC 75.4 50.2 11.7 34.7 42.71 B- 859035
22 Long Beach, CA 33.3 39.2 48.8 46 42.21 B- 469450
23 Boston, MA 58.5 7.6 8.5 60.1 41.47 B- 685094
24 San Francisco, CA 98.1 0 38.6 2.4 39.92 C 884363
25 Chicago, IL 66.1 26.1 29.7 25.6 38.825 C 2716450
26 Phoenix, AZ 72.8 78 0.1 24.9 38.38 C 1626078
27 Jacksonville, FL 59.9 43.5 24.1 28.4 38.285 C 892062
28 Nashville, TN 78.6 29.4 22.6 17.1 38.155 C 667560
29 Houston, TX 62.3 67.8 29.7 13.3 37.55 C 2312717
30 Indianapolis, IN 58.5 59.5 38.6 8.8 36.23 C 863002
31 Sacramento, CA 35.8 44.1 24.1 38.9 34.79 C 501901
32 Fresno, CA 24.2 88.2 38.6 25.1 34.515 C 527438
33 Tulsa, OK 74.1 57.7 14.8 4.2 33.17 C 401800
34 Seattle, WA 81.9 2.7 19.9 8.2 32.685 C 724745
35 Detroit, MI 16 64.4 79.3 3.3 32.22 C 673104
36 San Antonio, TX 51 68.7 24.1 10.6 31.905 C 1511946
37 Wichita, KS 74.1 58.8 9.8 3.7 31.855 C 390591
38 Atlanta, GA 67 21.4 14.8 9.5 29.265 D 486290
39 Los Angeles, CA 21.1 25.7 13.6 46.9 28.715 D 3999759
40 Minneapolis, MN 72.8 27.2 2.5 8.9 28.3 D 422331
41 Milwaukee, WI 45.4 79.4 1.8 11.8 26.14 D 595351
42 Tucson, AZ 26.2 40.6 43.7 6.8 25.225 D 535677
43 Memphis, TN 37.3 70 22.6 1 24.19 D 652236
44 Albuquerque, NM 56.9 43.3 4.1 0.6 22.635 D 558545
45 New Orleans, LA 5.7 18.5 58 12.2 22.33 D 393292
46 Portland, OR 47.6 8.7 17 6.4 21.64 D 647805
47 Baltimore, MD 54.5 23.2 6.7 2.2 21.115 D 611648
48 Oakland, CA 58.9 11.9 5.9 1.7 20.93 D 425195
49 Cleveland, OH 42.3 46.4 0 4.6 18.94 F 385525
50 Miami, FL 5.7 6.5 24.1 20 15.385 F 463347

Rent-wise, Troy, MI is the most affordable city for families.

Troy ranked highest for affordability.  Statistically, an average resident of Troy spends about 20 percent of their median income from the past 12 months on rent. No particular state stands out in this category. Carmel, IN which came in second for overall ratings, is higher on the affordability list (4th) than Fisher, IN (9th) - our first place winner.

Lake Elsinore, CA came out at the bottom of our scoring for rent affordability for median-income families.

If you’re looking to figure how much rent you can afford, check out our very own rent calculator.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade
1 Troy, MI 100 29.9 79.3 90.2 84.385 A
2 Pharr, TX 99.9 98.7 72 70.3 82.445 A
3 Maple Grove, MN 99.7 80.9 38.6 84.8 77.33 A-
4 Carmel, IN 99.5 79.1 96.1 98.2 96.155 A+
5 Rogers, AR 99.3 91.1 54 44.3 67.905 B+
6 Layton, UT 99.1 93.8 91.4 70.6 86.67 A
7 Plano, TX 99 33 94 83.2 85.62 A
8 Livonia, MI 99 7.2 79.3 89 81.395 A
9 Fishers, IN 98.6 89.6 96.1 97.5 96.69 A+
10 Bellevue, WA 98.6 11 72 52.5 67.055 B+

Thornton, CO is in the lead for safety.

Colorado took two out of the top three positions for safety, with Thornton and Boulder ending up in first and third place, respectively. The crime rate in Thornton, CO has increased since our 2017 study, from 244 to 350 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Still, according to our data, this Denver suburb is currently the safest city in the country, out of those surveyed, to raise a family. Second place went to Las Cruces, NM, with 396 crimes per 100,000 residence.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade
1 Thornton, CO 33.3 81.4 2.5 100 53.755 B
2 Las Cruces, NM 49.2 61.7 48.8 99.9 68.095 B+
3 Boulder, CO 9.1 30.6 72 99.7 58.685 B
4 Auburn, WA 49.2 55.3 17 99.5 59.365 B
5 Boise City, ID 65.2 40.8 33.2 99.3 66.695 B+
6 Abilene, TX 53.6 58.4 72 99.1 74.605 A-
7 Rochester Hills, MI 95.9 36.4 79.3 99 86.885 A
8 Newton, MA 95 52.4 94 98.8 91.82 A+
9 Weston, FL 11.7 86.3 24.1 98.6 52.675 B
10 Johns Creek, GA 31.3 79.8 54 98.4 65.31 B+

Passaic, NJ is in first place for child-friendliness. California and Texas are otherwise reigning supreme in the Top 10 list.

Passaic, NJ has a ton of indoor and outdoor family attractions. Ice rinks, bowling alleys, playrooms, libraries, museums, and movie theaters - it has it all. No wonder the Passaic residents are so satisfied with how child-friendly their city is.

Ana Francisconi. Unsplash

San Francisco, CA scored the lowest for child-friendliness. This could potentially be because San Francisco is a booming tech city, filled with young, single entrepreneurs, and the city prioritizes its upbeat work environment.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade
1 Passaic, NJ 5 100 17 77 42.7 B-
2 Perris, CA 9.1 99.8 66.9 62.7 51.38 B
3 Madera, CA 6 99.6 54 48.7 42.305 B-
4 Lake Elsinore, CA 0 99.4 48.8 42.2 36.91 C
5 Laredo, TX 41.2 99.2 72 58.7 60.825 B+
6 Hesperia, CA 2.6 99 84.7 63.2 53.975 B
7 Edinburg, TX 35.1 98.9 54 29.6 44.28 B-
8 Pharr, TX 99.9 98.7 72 70.3 82.445 A
9 Orem, UT 96.8 98.5 84.7 78.5 87.54 A
10 Harlingen, TX 68.1 98.3 66.9 24.6 55.595 B

Baytown, TX ranked the highest for the rate of high school graduates.

The Huston suburb of Baytown, TX is booming with high school students graduating. A high school diploma is an important milestone for many young adults who are expecting to go to college. Baytown definitely has a promising rate of high school graduates and will put your teen on the road to success.

Close enough to Houston, Baytown, TX doesn’t miss out on any of the job market action happening in its big neighbor city. So, while your child is learning their biology and history, you’ll be just a short commute away from one of the biggest job hubs in the state.

Cleveland, OH scored the lowest for high school graduation rate.

Rank City, State Rent Affordability Child-friendliness HS Graduation Rate Safety Weighted Score Grade
1 Baytown, TX 83.4 77.6 100 33.6 69.54 B+
2 Naperville, IL 93.3 66.9 98.7 95.5 92.78 A+
3 Frisco, TX 52.9 95.8 98.7 89.7 81.52 A
4 Allen, TX 31.3 94 98.7 94.4 76.505 A-
5 Bolingbrook, IL 8.6 72.9 98.7 96.2 68.215 B+
6 Newport Beach, CA 65.2 4.7 98.7 65.4 67.595 B+
7 Wichita Falls, TX 39.4 62.7 98.7 42.7 57.71 B
8 Menifee, CA 13.3 35.7 98.7 72.6 57.645 B
9 Flower Mound, TX 87.5 81.3 97.4 97.3 92.785 A+
10 Sioux City, IA 96.8 83.6 97.4 20.2 68.82 B+

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the best cities for families, it looks like Indiana and Texas cities are your best bet. With a great mix of safety, affordability, and high school graduation rates, the cities in these two states, along with the city of San Ramon, CA, have some of the best choices for families trying to find a new home.

By: Angelina Bader
Apartments for rent in our top cities
Atlanta, GAAustin, TXCharlotte, NCChicago, ILDallas, TXDenver, COFort Worth, TX