Everything Kids

The Best and Worst Cities for Families: Where Does Yours Rank?

Here are the most and least desirable places to raise a family, according to a new WalletHub survey.

happy family outside their new home Shutterstock
Considering a move? WalletHub's 2016 review of the Best and Worst Cities for Families may help you decide where to drop your proverbial pin.

The U.S. Census Bureau data suggests people move an estimated 11.7 times over the course of their life. As a kid, we moved a few times, and the same is true not that I have my own family. Of course, there's a lot to consider when you are making a decision to uproot your family and live somewhere completely different. Will the schools be up to your standards? Is there enough to do there to keep your kiddos entertained? What is the cost of living like?

WalletHub did some of that research for you, looking at the 150 most populated U.S. cities based on 36 key metrics such as the relative cost of housing, the quality of local school and health care systems, and local fun and recreation opportunities for families.

And they determined that the best city for families in all the land is (drum roll please)...Overland Park, Kansas. Madison, Wisconsin; Plano, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Virginia Beach, Virginia round out the top five slots.

I was surprised to see so many cold-weather cities come out on top; I would have assumed warmer climates would be preferable for people with kids. Because as any parent knows, putting on coats, hats, gloves, and boots can add a good 17 hours to your transit time getting anywhere!

But some of the worst cities for families according to this report are Birmingham, Alabama; San Bernardino, California; and Hialeah, Florida. I guess warm weather isn't everything!

Consider that the city with the most playgrounds is Cincinnati, Ohio, and the fewest playgrounds are found in San Bernadino, California. Not surprisingly, New York City offers the most attractions, but then there's the extremely high cost of living to consider. In fact, you can expect to make the highest salary given the cost of living in Scottsdale, Arizona, while the city that offers the lowest is none other than the city that never sleeps.

Meanwhile, Plano, Texas boasts the most affordable housing, which is beyond key with kids. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Oakland, California. But, it's California! Looking to live near the most like-minded people when it comes to family planning? A move to Aurora, Illinois might suit you, as this city boasts the most families with kids. Interestingly, Scottsdale has the fewest.

Irvine, California is where you will find the lowest crime rates, while Detroit has the highest, according to WalletHub's findings. The fewest divorces are taking place in Fremont, California...maybe because it's California. And the most are in Cleveland.

Disclaimer: I was raised in California. Perhaps I should have disclosed that sooner. But now, my husband and I are raising our children in New Jersey, outside of New York City, mainly due to abundant job opportunities and the awesome things we can do and see with our kids. Still, we always say if we moved anywhere else in the country it would be, you guessed it, California.

The takeaway: Researchers cannot account for personal preference, but this information may help you decide where to hang your hat if you are considering a move with your family. Might I suggest New Jersey or California?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.