Family life

California dominates list of best U.S. cities to raise kids

All across the United States, there are plenty of great cities to raise kids in. It just so happens about half of the Top 100 cities are in California.

Sure, New York may have a huge cultural draw, and Florida has endless miles of sandy beaches, but in terms of the best place to plop down roots for your family? According to a new study from National Council for Home Safety and Security, California is a big winner, with 48 of the top 100 spots going to the Golden State and six in the top 10 alone! First place actually goes to San Ramon, aka “Tree City,” a wealthy, mid-sized city that’s about 15 miles east of San Francisco.

The truth is, families move often and for various reasons, and not just because a new study crunched the numbers and spit out some zip codes. And in fact, the average American is estimated to move an average of 11.4 times during his or her lifetime.

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Sometimes it’s for a new job or to be closer to family or because you just can’t take another snowy winter, but the basic elements that make somewhere a great place to live rarely change—good schools, a good economy, good neighbors.

But because this survey comes from a group focused on safety—they’re actually a trade organization for alarm installers—crime statistics were an important factor in how high a city ranked. The other things they analyzed were graduation rates (a key indicator of the quality of education in a given region), health insurance coverage and the medium income, to give a sense of the socioeconomic stability of the area.

Rounding out the top five were Newton, Massachusetts (2), Newport Beach, California (3), Pleasanton, California (4), Flower Mound, Texas. (I’d live in the last two based on the names alone!)

While lists like these can be helpful in narrowing the field, parents with a move on the mind might want to also cross-reference this sort of list with other “best cities” lists that look at other factors that families value deeply—and which this particular list unfortunately doesn’t account for.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m fantasizing about where I’d like to call home—besides my current happy place, in Brooklyn, New York—I like a list that includes a bit more than just the basics. Factors like air quality, how much green space there is, the number of playgrounds and parks, the relative abundance of family-friendly activities (i.e. museums, cultural centers, libraries, stadiums, pools or athletic facilities)—those are quality-of-life indices that many parents may deem as vital as high-scoring schools and relative affluence.

Of course, weather is a huge consideration for some—not everyone can stand the rainy winters in Seattle or the humidity of the summer in the South, and while the National Council for Home Safety and Security didn’t specifically consult the thermometer or the Farmer’s Almanac to make their list, California’s dominance sure makes a case for that whole “West Coast is the Best Coast” thing…

Read more:
The debate: Are cities better for raising kids than the country?
11 things you should never say to a work-from-home parent

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