By Gretchen Pille, Storage.com
Finding your place in this world can be pretty difficult, not to mention how hard it can be to move there. Storage.com is here to help with the moving process, either by providing storage or helping you find the ideal place to call home.
A long time ago, in a suburb far away, parents thought they had it all. A big house, a back yard, and a long commute to work. But the last few years have shown a trend of young parents skipping the suburbs and staying in the urban areas they grew to love before they had kids. And why wouldn’t they? Living downtown puts you within walking distance of work, your favorite restaurants and coffee shops, and the best libraries, museums, and parks.
If you are a parent who is ready to embrace a more urban lifestyle, Storage.com has found the most child-friendly downtown areas across the country. These downtown areas have some of the best schools, low unemployment rates, most affordable housing, and lowest crime rates in the country.
1. THE MOST COMMUNITY-DRIVEN DOWNTOWN:
- Population: 4,110
- Crime Rate: 23% lower than national average (Downtown East)
- Cost of Living: 18.2% higher than state average (Downtown East)
Downtown Minneapolis has been a hot spot for young professionals for many years. Now those young professionals are starting families, but they’re not leaving their urban lives behind. Downtown Minneapolis neighborhoods like North Loop and Downtown East provide young parents the downtown amenities they’ve always enjoyed, as well as the community of fellow urban parents. Downtown Minneapolis Families is an organization of parents committed to enhancing downtown living. Just recently the organization worked with Minneapolis Public Schools to open Webster Elementary, a downtown community school.
When not on foot or Nice Ride (the city’s bike share program), residents use one of the country’s largest public transit systems to get around town quickly. Metro Transit’s Light Rail and Buses are inexpensive and can get you to top Downtown Minneapolis destinations like Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play, Central Library with its massive children’s books section, and Wilde Roast Cafe for gelato with a gorgeous view of the Riverfront.
2. THE DOWNTOWN WITH THE BEST SCHOOLS:
- Population: 8,723
- Crime Rate: 165% higher than national average
- Cost of Living: 46.1% lower than state average
In Downtown Chattanooga, parents have many options when it comes to sending their kids to school, and they really can’t go wrong with any of them. The Bright School, Girls Preparatory School, and McCallie are popular private schools located in or just outside of the downtown area. Downtown Chattanooga also has award-winning public magnet schools, such as Battle Academy and Normal Park. There’s plenty of educational opportunities outside the classroom as well. The Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art are world-class cultural institutions that everyone in the family can enjoy. What’s more, downtown Chattanooga boasts free electric shuttles that make getting the whole family around the downtown area a breeze.
3. THE MOST WALKABLE DOWNTOWN:
- Population: 15,538
- Crime Rate: 328% above national average
- Cost of Living: 1.7% lower than state average
There are plenty of reasons why Downtown Indianapolis was named a top ten downtown in 2014 and 2015 by Liviability.com, and a solid Walkscore is certainly one of those reasons. Residents have easy access to one-of-a-kind, hands-on learning destinations like Rhythm! Discovery Center and world-class performance organizations like Indiana Repertory Theatre, not to mention 10 different professional sports teams.
While each downtown Indy neighborhood has its unique charms, we suggest checking out these neighborhoods: Fountain Square for its quirky shops (and Duckpin Bowling!) and single-family homes. Old Northside has historic public spaces and a variety of housing options. Old Southside is known for its parks, affordable quaint homes, and of course, proximity to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s no shortage of transportation options when it comes to getting around Downtown Indy. Residents can take part in the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program, the BlueIndy electric car-share program, hop on an IndyGo public transit bus, or keep it simple and walk.
4. THE DOWNTOWN WITH THE MOST TO DO:
- Population: 65,000
- Crime Rate: 20% below national average
- Cost of Living: 40% higher than state average
According to Downtown Seattle’s own website, Downtown is the city’s fastest growing area. Since approximately 3,000 children live downtown, parents have a strong network of support, including the Downtown Seattle Families organization—a group of parents committed to enhancing the urban living experience for kids and families. Amenities such as childcare, parks, and family-friendly restaurants are abundant. A typical Saturday could include a morning at one of the 20 parks, a visit to the Seattle Waterfront or Seattle Aquarium, then dinner at Italian Family Pizza for a pizza as big as your first-born. In short, there will be a plethora of new things to do with your entire family. With a walking score of 98, getting around Downtown Seattle without a car is no challenge, especially with the city’s top-notch public transportation which includes buses, street cars, and light rails.
HOW TO CREATE MORE DOWNTOWN LIVING SPACE
5. THE SAFEST DOWNTOWN:
OVERLAND PARK, KS
- Population: 565
- Crime Rate: 65% lower than national average
- Cost of Living: 22.1% lower than state average
The schools in this area are top notch. Parents who are choosing public schools can send their children to Shawnee Mission schools, which have great reviews on GreatSchools.org. Families in Downtown Overland Park are within walking distance of fascinating art galleries like InterUrban ArtHouse, as well as fantastic coffee like the OP favorite Homer’s Coffee House. Families moving to Downtown Overland Park are always in good company, because according to Realtor.com, nearly half the population of Downtown Overland Park has children, which makes for a great community to raise kids!
6. THE MOST EXCITING DOWNTOWN:
CHAPEL HILL, NC
- Population: 3,085
- Crime Rate: 28% below national average
- Cost of Living: 23% lower than rest of state
Downtown Chapel Hill is perhaps one of the most lively and dynamic areas of Chapel Hill. Its proximity to the University of North Carolina makes for a diverse population: undergrads and grad students, empty nesters, parents, and young professionals have chosen to call Downtown Chapel Hill home. And why shouldn’t they? The crime rate and cost of living is low, and there’s always something to do that you can get to on foot. For example, this downtown community often comes together for Tar Heel athletic events and family-friendly destinations like Morehead Planetarium & Science Center or the beautiful Memorial Hall, where families can take in all kinds of world-class performances.
7. THE BEST UP-AND-COMING DOWNTOWN:
- Population: 4,657
- Crime Rate: 74% higher than national average
- Cost of Living: 8% less than state average
The construction of Pinnacle Bank Arena, the revitalization of its downtown area, and a booming tech start-up culture has launched Downtown Lincoln into the national spotlight, and made the place a great area for families to call home. Downtown Lincoln has the vibrancy of an urban area with a genuine and practical Midwest mentality, not to mention that Midwestern low cost of living. Lincoln startups like Hudl and Travefy are always hungry for new talent, and the proof is in Lincoln’s 2.1% unemployment rate. There’s plenty for the kiddos to do here, too. A number of museums are within walking distance, including the Lincoln Children’s Museum, Sheldon Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian-Affiliated University of Nebraska State Museum. The Haymarket Theatre has an entire season of Youth Theatre shows in which your children can participate. So if you’ve ever wanted a career at a startup company in a city that your whole family can enjoy, Downtown Lincoln is a worthwhile option.
8. THE MOST BUDGET-FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN:
DES MOINES, IA
- Population: 2,473
- Crime Rate: 10% lower than national average
- Cost of Living: 4.7% less than national average
A low cost of living, low crime, and low unemployment all in one vibrant city? It’s real, and it’s in Des Moines! Last year, the Today Show dubbed Des Moines the city “where regular folks can live the rich life.” According to AreaVibes.com, the median cost of owning a space downtown is $207,250, and renting is about $700 a month. Parents living in Downtown Des Moines can send their children to top-performing public schools like Central Academy and Downtown School. Downtown Des Moines is also rich with music. Parents have the opportunity to immerse their children in creative and performing art programs like the Des Moines Symphony Academy. Families can embrace Iowa winters with a day at Benton Skating Plaza, take advantage of a sunny day by strolling through the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, or explore the great indoors with visits to the Science Center of Iowa or the State Historical Museum of Iowa.
HOW TO GET THE MOST SPACE
OUT OF YOUR DOWNTOWN HOME
Think we left any cities out? Let us know in the comments!