Parents looking for a good place to raise kids usually want the same thing: good schools, a safe environment, and plenty of parks and amenities for children. While there are a lot of places that fit this description, the following cities might just be the best places in the United States to raise children, based on factors such as income level, number of children, school ratings, and crime levels.
- Omaha, Nebraska—Right in the center of the country, this city, which has a population slightly under half a million, boasts good schools, low crime rates, a zoo, children’s theater, children’s museum, and a great school library system, plus one-third of the population is made up of families with kids.
- Richland, Washington—Located in the beautiful Northwest, Richland is home to 48,058 people. It’s a child’s dream location, with 29 public playgrounds, a fishing pond, splash park, and the famed “playground of dreams”—a 12,000 square-foot playground that includes features representing local landmarks, a pirate ship, castle maze, rope wall, dragon slide and more. For parents, the Department of Energy is a major employer; students fare extremely well on standardized state tests; and the average household income is $95,620.
- Des Moines, Iowa—This all-American city is home to 570,000 people, with a median household income of $57,185, a low unemployment rate, low housing costs—and a high standard of living (a four-bedroom home can be found in the $200,000 range). The public schools boast small class sizes and above-average test scores. What’s more, there are plenty of places for families to have fun: along the 300 miles of walking and bike trails, at the Minor League baseball stadium, or ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza.
- Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire—This idyllic New England area has a population of 400,000, with an average household income of $68,513. With no sales tax or state income tax, homes for $195,000, and a close proximity to Boston, families here enjoy seeing Minor League baseball and hockey games and visiting the SEE Science Center, and they are an hour’s drive from the ocean, White Mountains, and lakes.
- Raleigh, North Carolina—This Southern city of 375,000 has an excellent school system where parents can choose among charter schools or traditional schools in a racially and economically diverse environment. More than 90 percent of the students in this school district plan on moving on to higher education, and families enjoy a number of museums, sporting events, camps, restaurants and houses of worship.
- Colorado Springs, Colorado—In addition to perfect weather, this city of 376,000 is an hour outside of Denver and has much to offer families. With the median home price of $192,000, residents enjoy outdoor activities, a new performing arts center, and an excellent school district, including the only Montessori program in the area. There’s a large U.S. Air Force presence in the area, which is just 15 minutes away from Pike’s Peak, “American’s Mountain.”
- Belmont, Massachusetts—With a population of 23,216, this small suburb of Boston is home to great schools with a nationally recognized music program and plenty of open spaces. What’s more, community service is big in this family-focused town: starting in kindergarten, students are expected to volunteer.
- Mason, Ohio—In this Cincinnati suburb of 29,555, homes cost about $189,000. The town has an impressive school system, with new, up-to-date classrooms and one computer for every 2.6 students. On weekends, families enjoy spending time at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, Kings Island theme park, and two water parks.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan—It gets cold in Grand Rapids, but the city is affordable, has a nice cost of living, an easy commute, a low crime rate, and a public school system that includes several charter schools. Plus, a whopping 75 percent of families in this city own homes.
- Boise, Idaho—Boise is the third-largest city in the Pacific Northwest, following Seattle and Portland. With a better cost of living, less crime and plenty of activities, including a thriving football team, a decent commute and good schools, families fare well in Boise.
- Many states in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest have less crime, low home costs, and great schools.
- In Belmont, Massachusetts, students are expected to volunteer starting in kindergarten.
- In Richland, Washington, kids can enjoy 29 playgrounds, including a 12,000 square-foot one.
- There is one computer for every 2.6 students in Mason, Ohio.