By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com
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When it comes to raising a family, one of your most important long-term decisions will be picking the right neighborhood. Providing for your loved ones means finding a place to settle down where well-paying jobs are abundant and good educational facilities are just a short drive away.
These 10 U.S. cities are tops for families, based on work opportunities, cost of living, standards of local education, and general quality of life.
1. RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is well-known for its splendid architecture, abundance of oak trees, and beautiful weather. However, there is so much more to this city than meets the eye. Most of the locals here own their own homes. Because of its low business costs (18% below the natural average), low unemployment rate (5.4%), and promising projected job growth (3.7%), Raleigh has been consistently ranked by Forbes as one of the best cities for businesses and job growth. Even better, thanks to the local abundance of education facilities for kids and adults alike, Raleigh has developed an educated population and has been chosen by Forbes as the second-most educated city in the nation!
2. BOISE, IDAHO
Though it may not be as well-known as its two famous neighbors, Seattle and Portland, Boise is much more family-friendly with a more affordable cost of living and housing market, strong job growth, and good educational facilities. The city’s numerous sidewalks and bicycle paths allow for family-friendly time outside, and the lovely, dry Idaho climate is perfect for a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities. This is also a city of educated adults: 92.8% of the local adult population has attained, at the very minimum, a high school degree.
3. PROVO, UTAH
If you’re concerned about earning enough to support your family, you can put those qualms to rest in Provo. Forbes recently ranked Provo as the third-best city for businesses in the country and cited the “microscopic” unemployment rate of 3.2% as proof of its many career opportunities. Don’t let the somewhat-pricey housing market disturb you; the cost of living in Provo comes in right around the national average. Also, the city’s low crime rate makes it a suitable environment for raising children. And Provo’s ranking as one of the most educated cities in the nation means your kids will have no problem attaining the primary and secondary education they need for success. You might even decide to pick up a few new skills yourself!
4. OGDEN, UTAH
In addition to its spectacular scenic views of the Rocky Mountains and plentiful opportunities for outdoor recreation, the city of Ogden is rich with a high median income, an extremely low cost of living (12% below the national average), minimal crime rate, and superb educational opportunities. The cost of running a business here is 24% below the natural average—the fourth lowest in the nation! As for education? Ogden has its fair share of higher-level education such as Weber State University and Stevens-Henager College. Also, Ogden has an off-the-charts high school graduation rate of 93%.
5. OMAHA, NEBRASKA
You could say Warren Buffett chose a good place to make investments. In addition to the award-winning Henry Doorly Zoo (a great way to keep kids occupied), Omaha has much to offer in terms of its economy. According to 24/7 Wall St., Omaha’s unemployment rate of 4.5% places as the second-lowest in the country. Its central location alongside the Missouri River, its diverse number of businesses and industries, and the low cost of living makes this a flexible town for starting or building a career. For these reasons, it has also been ranked by Forbes as the 7th Best City for Raising a Family.
6. WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS
Close to Boston and Providence, R.I., Worcester’s downtown area is rich with an industrial economy, and seventy percent of the local residents own their own homes. Worcester has made Forbes’ list of Best Cities for Raising a Family, and it has also been ranked by the same publication as one of the Happiest Cities for Jobs. Combine this with “one of the strongest urban public school systems in the state,” and you have a wholesome, promising city for families. According to Parenting.com, there’s also plenty to keep the kids occupied when they’re not in school: Boynton Park, Cascades Park, and the EcoTarium.
7. GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
Ranked #1 in 2012 and #2 in 2014 by Forbes among the Best Cities for Raising a Family, Grand Rapids is a great community for people with kids. First of all, the cost of living here is very low. What’s more, 77% (up from 75% in 2012) of permanent residents own their own homes, placing Grand Rapids above all other cities in the country in percentage of homeowners. Charter schools add to the already-strong local educational system.
8. CINCINNATI, OHIO
While the percentage of local home ownership (64%) and median household income ($52,000) is average, “The City of Seven Hills” is attractive to many families thanks to an extremely low cost of living for a major American metropolitan area. Cincinnati also ranks over most other large cities with a superb local school system.
9. MADISON, WISCONSIN
24/7 Wall St. chose the capital city of Wisconsin as their pick for the #1 Best U.S. City for Raising a Family in 2012, citing the city’s 5.1% unemployment rate and educated adult population (both the 3rd highest in the country). An economic boom that started in the 1990s has kept this city’s employment rates on the go, and the close proximity to numerous lakes means plenty of outdoor fun for adults and kids alike.
10. VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA
Virginia Beach has the second-highest percentage of parkland per 1000 residents in the country, with 77.7 acres to its name. This is complemented by its numerous playgrounds, low crime and unemployment rates, and its high percentage of educated adults. In fact, 93.1% of Virginia Beach’s adult residents have achieved a high school degree, making this city’s adult population the 5th most educated in the nation. A strong military presence and research programs contribute to the area’s economy. Best of all, its sandy beaches create year-round fun for Virginia Beach families.
What makes your city great for families? Tell us in the comments below!