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Best Places To Raise A Family In The US, By City And State

Sarah Sharkey8-minute read

September 20, 2021


As you consider where you would like to raise your family, there are several factors to keep in mind. Beyond the affordability of a location, other aspects of an area’s dynamics will come into play.

With that in mind, we have curated a list of the top U.S. cities to raise a family based on a variety of metrics.

Best Places To Raise A Family In The US

A recent report by WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked the 50 states from best to worst places to raise a family. In addition to this report, there are several other data points we considered, including median home prices and safety.

As you scout for the best states to raise your family, there will be many things to consider. The weight you put on different factors will be entirely up to you. We’ve compiled a list of the top places to live in based on affordability, public education, healthcare, safety, and family activities.

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Best States To Raise A Family

First, let’s take a look at the states that offer the best environment to raise a family. We will explore the factors behind the rankings to give you a better idea of what to look for.

When considering affordability, we considered median home value, cost of living, poverty rate and median salary rate for each state.

Median home values by state were compiled by ExperianTM.

The cost of living index demonstrates the percentage difference in the cost of living between locations. The percentage difference is always compared to 100, so if the cost of living index is 90, it is 10% below the location it’s being compared with. When we compare the cost of living index among states, 100 represents the U.S. average.

Poverty rate is determined by the economic research service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Percentages are from 2019.

Median salary date is from ZipRecruiter, and our safety data is from a violent crime rate conducted by USA Today. 


Massachusetts ranks highest among the states by offering a welcoming atmosphere for families. Although less affordable than other states, it offers top-quality education and historic points of interest.


An affordable state can make some breathing room in your family’s budget. Several data points show that Massachusetts provides an affordable spot for families.

As a smaller state with a beautiful coastline, these affordable numbers might surprise you.

Public Education

A public education system with a record of success is an important factor for most families considering a move.

Massachusetts is ranked at the top of the list for public education for grades pre-K to 12. But higher education options leave Massachusetts in the middle of the pack at ranking 27.

Health Care And Safety

Massachusetts is beaten out by Hawaii for the top spot for health care. But second place in healthcare is still an amazing feat. Health care rankings were determined by U.S. News for Massachusetts as well as the rest of the states we cover.

In terms of safety in Massachusetts, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people was 338.1 in 2018.

Family Activities

With Boston creating an epicenter of attractions, Massachusetts families can try many different forms of fun. Whether you try whale watching or you choose to explore the historic side of the state, there are many opportunities for family outings.


Minnesota may not come to mind when considering places to live. But the state offers a great mix of affordability, educational pride, and a very low crime rate.


Here’s what you need to know about Minnesota’s costs.

Although the average salary in Minnesota is lower, the cost of living makes up for this disparity.

Public Education

Minnesota ranked in the No. 12 spot for public education for pre-K to 12. But for higher education, Minnesota falls to 20th place.

Health Care And Safety

Minnesota is in the top 10 states for the well-being of its citizens.

In terms of safety in Minnesota, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people was 220.4 in 2018, according to USA Today.

Family Activities

Minnesota offers a range of cultural experiences for families. Plus, you could head up to the northern part of the state to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

North Dakota

North Dakota isan affordable place to live with world-class higher-education facilities. The state’s natural beauty is a perk for the whole family to enjoy.


Here’s what makes North Dakota a good option:

Relatively high salaries compared to the cost of living makes North Dakota an affordable home state for families.

Public Education

In terms of public primary education, North Dakota is not highly ranked. In fact, the state is 35th in the county. However, in higher education, the state is in the top 5.

Health Care And Safety

North Dakota is ranked 38th in terms of health care quality for residents. However, other factors can make up for this.

In terms of safety in North Dakota, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people was 280.6 in 2018.

Family Activities

With Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other outdoor attractions, families will be able to find affordable entertainment.

New York

A wide range of opportunities in New York allows families to explore life together while taking advantage of top health care options.


Although New York may conjure pictures of tiny studio apartments with sky-high rent prices, there are other areas of the state that are more affordable.

New York may not be as affordable as some other states, but other factors make up for this.

Public Education

New York is at the center of the pack at 25th place for primary education. In the higher education category, New York jumps to 15th place.

Health Care And Safety

New York is close to the top of the list in 13th place. In terms of safety in New York, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people was 350.5 in 2018, based on data compiled by USA Today.

Family Activities

New York provides a range of outdoor and cultural experiences for families to enjoy.


Vermont offers outstanding public schools for primary education and the second-lowest crime rate in the county.


Vermont offers families a somewhat affordable option.

Although there are more affordable places to live, Vermont has great features that make it a great place to live.

Public Education

At fourth in the nation for primary public school educations, it might be surprising that Vermont’s higher education ranking is 41st.

Health Care And Safety

Vermont is also near the top of the list for healthcare in 11th place. In terms of safety in Vermont, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people was 172 in 2019. With that crime rate, Vermont is the second-safest state in the country, based on data compiled by USA Today.

Family Activities

Vermont offers lots of outdoor activities for families to enjoy. Plus it’s the home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

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Best Cities To Raise A Family

Now let’s take a closer look at the best cities to raise a family. Although some of these cities don’t fall into the best states to raise a family, each of these cities has something to offer. Here are the top cities to raise a family in the U.S.

Naperville, Illinois

Naperville, Illinois is a suburb of Chicago.The population of 146,431 people creates a family-friendly environment, plus the Windy City is less than an hour away.

School System

The school districts of Naperville rank in the top 40 out of the thousands of districts in the U.S. Plus, it is in the top 300 of best places to teach in America.

Family Activities

A fun family outing can be easy to find in Naperville. There is a children’s museum with countless hands-on activities and classes to entertain your kids. Plus, Centennial Beach is a popular spot in the summer heat.


The cost of living index in Naperville is 129.6. Families may need to consider their budget before moving to this location.


The crime rate in Naperville was 68.71 per 100,000 in 2017, according to a Macrotrends report. With that, it fell below the national crime rate average of 382.9 per 100,000 in 2017, according to an FBI report.   .

The Woodlands, Texas

The Woodlands, Texas offers families a warmer climate and access to the growing city of Houston.

School System

The Woodlands has several public and private schools that rank very highly within their state. In fact, most of the public elementary schools are within the top 10% of their state’s education system.

Family Activities

The Woodlands also has a children’s museum to stimulate the young minds in your family. Additionally, there are dozens of small lakes and parks that create a fun system to explore.


The cost of living index in The Woodlands is 112.9. When compared to other cities on this list, this one is somewhat affordable.


The crime rates in The Woodlands are generally less than half the national average, according to a local report. With that, you can feel comfortable in this area.

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington rests outside of the nation’s capital. There are ample employment opportunities with government offices and major companies in the area.

School System

The primary schools within Arlington rank among the top 25% in the nation. Additionally, there are several higher education institutes with prestigious reputations, including George Mason University, Strayer University, Marymount University, and the Air Institute of Washington.

Family Activities

A wide range of tourist activities promotes an exciting atmosphere in Arlington. Beyond the tourist attractions, you’ll find extensive bike trails to explore the city.


The cost of living index is 168.7 in Arlington. With this higher end of expenses, families might feel the pinch of a more restrictive budget.


The crime rate of Arlington is very low at 112 per 100,000 people, according data complied by Area Vibes. Thismakes it one of the safest cities near Washington DC.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor offers the experience of a college town with a massive number of trees – more than 50,000 of them, in fact. The University of Michigan is one of the largest employers, but there are also several tech companies in the area.

School System

Ann Arbor is known to be the home of the University of Michigan, which is ranked 24th among American universities. Additionally, the primary school system has a low student to teacher ratio which points to a worthwhile education.

Family Activities

The nearby college campus creates a fun sense of excitement. There are several museums to explore and outdoor parks to enjoy.


The cost of living index in Ann Arbor is 117.5. However, the other positives of this town could balance out this fact.


Ann Arbor has a relatively low crime rate for cities across the county at 220.28 per 100,000 in 2018 according to a Macrotrends report. But it has one of the lowest crime rates for college towns.

Columbia, Maryland

Columbia is a perfect picture of suburbia located outside of the Baltimore area.

School System

Columbia schools rank in the top 5 in the state of Maryland. With that, the education system is clearly working here.

Family Activities

With many small parks throughout the city and an extensive collection of entertainment available for free at the local libraries, Columbia has something for everyone.


The cost of living in Columbia is 121.6. Although this is on the higher end, the amenities of the city could outweigh this con.


As the 2018 winner of the safest city in America, you can feel comfortable with the crime scene in Columbia.

Numbers Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Although looking at the numbers can be a great place to start, you shouldn’t base your decision to move your family somewhere new on these alone. It’s important to include emotional factors in your search. For example, you might want to move closer to family or seek out an area with an industry that excites you.

The important part of raising a family is to choose a place where you know that you’ll have the opportunity to provide a great life for them. No matter where you end up living, your family can create unique experiences together to enrich your lives and create lasting memories.

If you want to learn more about choosing a place to call home, check out the free resources in our Learning Center.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer that enjoys helping readers learn more about their finances. She has an MS in Business Management from the University of Florida. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram @adventurousadulting.