When it comes to raising a family, we know you want the best of everything: the best home, the best education, the best support and resources, and of course– the safest neighborhood or living space possible. If you’re planning to move to a new home in 2017, here are the cities that should be tops on your consideration list for just those reasons — because we know your family is tops on your priority list.
Overland Park, KS
Kansas may not have been on your short list, but we think it should be. Just 15 minutes from downtown Kansas City, it has abundant access to green space and more than 83 parks (yes, 83!) and plenty of attractions to keep the whole family entertained — from the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, or the year-round community center pool, the kids will never be bored. Housing costs are a little higher than the national average, but not by much — purchasing a family home will cost an average of $225,000.00, but monthly mortgage payments average just over $1,000. Rent averages around $1,000 per month as well. Schools in Overland Park consistently receive excellent scores on performance as well as experience, and crime rates are significantly lower than the national average. All in all, it’s easy to see why Overland Park consistently rates as one of the best cities to raise a family.
Unless you’re Midwest-raised, you probably have yet to discover the gem that is Madison, WI. To start, it’s a University town — that means there is a lot of art, science, and educational opportunity in this sizeable Midwest city. What’s more, a significant part of Madison’s population is already families, so you’ll be in good company. Average incomes in Madison are higher than the national average, meaning the schools are well-resourced and the population is, on the whole, well-educated. The median cost to buy a home in Madison is $217,500, which is significantly higher than the national average but may be offset by the higher average income. Average rent is right around $950 per month. Crime rates are a little bit higher than the national average, but depending on which neighborhood you choose, you can easily avoid the higher crime areas.
If snowy winters aren’t your family’s idea of a good time, have a look at moving to Irvine, CA. This sunny city has received awards for being incredibly environmentally conscious as a result of city-wide efforts as well as abundant (and well cared-for) green space – 19 community parks and more than 40 neighborhood parks, with plenty of rec centers, kids sports leagues, and other community-based activities for families. Education is paramount in Irvine, which is home to top-notch Universities like UC Irvine, Concordia University, and a satellite USC campus. SAT scores show kids in Irvine routinely performing well and going to college, and the school systems consistently rank at the top of California’s schools. Housing prices are quite high, as you might expect for such a city — the median home cost is around $660,000, with rent around $1,800 per month. Crime rates, however, are incredibly low, so your family will feel safe.
St. Paul, MN
The Twin Cities — more than just baseball! If you’re feeling the pull of northern latitudes but still want all the culture of a big city, moving to St. Paul, MN may be a great choice for your family. There are so many amenities — Como Park Zoo, or the many (many!) attractions at the Mall of America in Minneapolis like the LEGO Imagination Center or the Hall of Mirrors. It does get cold in the winter, so prepare the kids for snowy recreation! Purchasing a home in St. Paul will cost an average of $175,000, which is square with the national average. Crime rates in St. Paul are about 49% higher than the national average, so you’ll want to be selective about what neighborhood you choose — and also do some research into school districts. There are some high-performing schools in St. Paul that will support your children’s growth with great teacher-student ratios and high test scores.
And now, to the south. If you’re looking to relocate with your family, it might be just right for you. It has actually been recognized by CNN Money Magazine multiple times as one of the best places to live in the country, was recognized by Forbes as one of the safest cities, and Plano’s school districts routinely rank highly on national testing scores. Housing prices are correspondingly high, with the median home price around $222,000 and rent around $1100. But the crime rates are low, and Plano has a reputation as a hub for young families so you’ll find lots of other kids for playdates. Don’t miss the Plano Balloon Festival or the Plano International Festival, and take the family to any one of Plano’s 50+ parks and nature preserves to get out of the hot Texas sun.
Somewhere in Middle America, there’s a sweet little city that might be perfect for you. Living in Omaha will afford your family a low cost of living, with home costs averaging $134,000 and rent just under $800. What’s more, Omaha’s children score above national average on standardized testing and have a low teacher:student ratio with plenty of both private and public schools to choose from. Hit up the Henry Doorly Zoo or the Children’s Museum when the weather isn’t nice enough to visit Omaha’s green space. In 2014 Omaha was ranked 12th on a list of the nation’s best park systems compiled by the Trust for Public Land — and they would know.