Finding the best place to raise your kids is not easy. My husband and I moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia for just that reason, and even now, 15 years later, I'm still not 100 percent sure we made the right decision.
There are just so many factors that come into play—the neighborhoods, the school system, the quality of the drinking water, the proximity to playgrounds and extracurricular activities, and, of course, the cost of living. Because according to the USDA, the average cost of raising just one child is more than $304,000—yikes!
Luckily, SmartAsset took on the task of crunching all the data for its second annual study on the best cities for children. They examined the 200 largest U.S. metro areas and ranked them using 13 factors that affect a child's quality of life, including water quality, air quality, and access to schools with high graduation rates and high rates of proficiency in math and reading.
They also looked at child and infant mortality rates, child poverty rates, median home values, and the percentage of children without health insurance.
Here's what they found:
The best place in America to raise a child is Cedar Rapids, Iowa—for the second year in a row. Two other metro areas in the Hawkeye State made the top 10 list as well: Des Moines, which ranked third, and Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa, which came in at fifth.
Other Midwest cities that cracked the top 10 include: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Lincoln, Nebraska; Rochester, Minnesota; Appleton, Wisconsin; and Fargo, North Dakota. In fact, there were only two cities not located in the Midwest that made the top 10 list: Barnstable Town, Massachusetts and York-Hanover, Pennsylvania. Though sadly, my own city of Philadelphia failed to even make the top 25.
But no state fared worse than Florida. Despite the balmy weather, seven of the 10 worst places to raise children are located in FLA—with Ocala coming in dead last—and this was before the Zika outbreak hit Miami!
What's your take on this study?