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. With that in mind, we dug into the data to find what cities are the best for young families. Our analysis centered around the 4 factors that we identified as being important to families:
Safety (35%): We ranked cities by the number of violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 residents. Source: FBI statistics.
Housing Cost (30%): To rank cities on housing cost, we calculated the percentage of the average income required to rent the average 2 bedroom apartment. Sources: Apartment List, American Community Survey
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 high school graduation rate gives a good estimate of overall school quality. Source: Department of Education data.
Child Friendliness (10%): Communities with a greater percentage of children tend to be more child friendly, so we scored cities based on the percentage of the population that's under 18: Source: American Community Survey
We used this methodology to evaluate the family friendliness of nearly 500 cities and identify the top 100. These cities span 26 states, but more than half of them are in one of just four states: California, Texas, Michigan, or Minnesota. The Midwest and California are well represented while only 2 of the top 100 cities are on the East Coast. With that, let's take a look at the top cities:
- Fishers, IN: Fishers gives families a lot to love. Its rents are the most affordable of any city we looked at: the median rent of $950 translates to just 12.3% of the average annual income. It also has one of the 5 lowest crime rates. Add in a stellar school district and lots of children, and you get that this Indianapolis suburb is America's best city for families.
- Allen, TX: Although Allen rents are a just a hair less affordable than Fishers' and the crime rate is barely higher, it's still an amazing place for families. The Allen Independent School District boasts a stellar graduation rate. Families that love sports will find this Dallas suburb extra appealing: the high school football team has won two of the last three state championships, and Allen is the hometown of champion Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson.
- Naperville, IL: This Chicago suburb placed third on the strength of a perfect score for school quality. It also placed among the top 10 for safety. Interestingly, Naperville (like Allen) is the hometown of a prominent Olympic gold medalist: figure skater Evan Lysacek. The only reasons Naperville didn't place even higher are its slightly more expensive rents - $1,340 for the average 2 bedroom - and a lower proportion of children.
- Castle Rock, CO: Castle Rock families love their city and frequently talk about how it combines the best of two worlds. On one hand, it has a safe, small town feel with plenty of young families. On the other, there are plenty of great jobs just 15 minutes away at the Denver Tech Center, and downtown Denver is a 45 minute drive to the north.
- Frisco, TX: Frisco is the second Dallas suburb to rank in our top 5. In fact, it's only minutes away from Allen. Like its neighbor, Frisco has manageable rents, great schools, and plenty of children. Crime rates are slightly higher, but even so Frisco still ranks in the top 10% for safety among the cities that we looked at.
The full data for the top 100 cities can be found below. We'll be publishing more about the best cities for families (including the scores for every city we ranked) over the next few weeks.