Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (2023)

Families move often and for various reasons. In fact, the average American can expect to move an estimated 11.7 times in a lifetime. Moving can be a sign of opportunity, such as a new job or long-term wealth accumulation, but people may also move because of instability such as foreclosure or job loss. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, families will likely be looking for cities that provide the most safety and have the lowest unemployment rates.

With families in mind, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 46 key metrics that consider essential family dynamics, such as the cost of housing, the quality of local school and health-care systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation. While obviously not perfect — given personal preferences and the limitations of publicly available data — our findings will hopefully give movers a sense of their options.

Table of Contents

Main FindingsAsk the ExpertsMethodology

Main Findings

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Best Places to Raise a Family

Overall RankCityTotal ScoreFamily FunHealth & SafetyEducation & Child CareAffordabilitySocio-economics
1Fremont, CA73.058112291
2Overland Park, KS71.7211025413
3Irvine, CA68.432023594
4Plano, TX67.539783732
5Columbia, MD66.42871041235
6San Diego, CA65.15516108022
7Seattle, WA64.98665882013
8San Jose, CA64.86416116712
9Madison, WI63.59853452417
10Scottsdale, AZ63.57536439128
11South Burlington, VT63.33179731379
12San Francisco, CA63.32141478937
13Gilbert, AZ63.275940551111
14Lincoln, NE63.136742301034
15Huntington Beach, CA62.4176295996
16Boise, ID61.963932771332
17Fargo, ND61.8610841471627
18Austin, TX61.48797931944
19Virginia Beach, VA60.6414719272720
20Sioux Falls, SD60.4312884261738
21Chandler, AZ60.244468952215
22Omaha, NE60.227563242173
23Bismarck, ND60.191158787818
24Portland, OR60.015055164674
25Warwick, RI59.971824442324
26Lexington-Fayette, KY59.7414327321979
27Portland, ME59.701543286161
28Cedar Rapids, IA59.531404983760
29Nashua, NH59.5215931493228
30Minneapolis, MN58.74171101146104
31Chesapeake, VA58.5412352542629
32Pembroke Pines, FL58.3613915612055
33Santa Clarita, CA58.369051712854
34Honolulu, HI58.0725172914719
35Pearl City, HI57.831802012927
36Charleston, SC57.7629711323165
37Chula Vista, CA57.719571812933
38Henderson, NV57.6648281096340
39Lewiston, ME57.521389436971
40Santa Rosa, CA57.507713569841
41St. Petersburg, FL57.416359853957
42Rancho Cucamonga, CA57.3486564010810
43Raleigh, NC57.2814251111575
44Sacramento, CA57.06360947593
45Washington, DC56.7268801343150
46Pittsburgh, PA56.5580724230133
47Tampa, FL56.524837462130
48Denver, CO56.359951134599
49Peoria, AZ56.2170921104835
50Orlando, FL55.9261066665117
51Salt Lake City, UT55.89641461003630
52Cheyenne, WY55.601361421161821
53Billings, MT55.59134155582450
54Burlington, VT55.5215826595690
55Garden Grove, CA55.3634241417026
56St. Paul, MN55.24717010828111
57Colorado Springs, CO55.1847120804777
58Charlotte, NC54.97104119782582
59Grand Prairie, TX54.805569829056
60Oklahoma City, OK54.7452145883581
61Las Vegas, NV54.51244168107106
62Aurora, IL54.4110321739191
63Oceanside, CA54.3793356013725
64New York, NY54.287309175131
65Glendale, CA54.1945122317248
66Missoula, MT54.16941131586101
67Rapid City, SD54.14126173254270
68Huntsville, AL54.09991381023376
69Nampa, ID53.6151901237863
70Jersey City, NJ53.58161112212685
70Spokane, WA53.58891264657108
72Columbus, OH53.47609615034120
73Reno, NV53.31276711711158
74Modesto, CA53.3021991489651
75Casper, WY53.28571411056853
76Juneau, AK53.2717712990545
77Durham, NC53.05170131651584
78Amarillo, TX52.7584130717459
79Yonkers, NY52.37178233611894
80Kansas City, MO52.30421688144109
81Los Angeles, CA52.241537617398
82Des Moines, IA52.121457815314145
83Tacoma, WA52.041651353352122
84Port St. Lucie, FL51.99176544813423
85Atlanta, GA51.902414010341160
86Boston, MA51.751003345124141
87Irving, TX51.7316674978716
88Louisville, KY51.57141108995386
89Laredo, TX51.57623650153121
90Bakersfield, CA51.161512714410580
91Grand Rapids, MI51.091608115438107
92Cape Coral, FL51.041575012811631
93Cincinnati, OH50.991812210160166
94Long Beach, CA50.8933432017797
95Fort Worth, TX50.83691251526483
96El Paso, TX50.681947107155124
97Arlington, TX50.671021059210072
98Vancouver, WA50.351271175710696
99Anaheim, CA50.2532389117439
100Salem, OR50.16150947211566
101Fort Wayne, IN50.10173751464988
102Tulsa, OK50.073816713458118
103Phoenix, AZ50.04815616310395
104Nashville, TN50.011291531435167
105West Valley City, UT49.95351161819546
106Tempe, AZ49.94361341748462
107Manchester, NH49.88172981226692
108Worcester, MA49.86156775393142
109Anchorage, AK49.841351481258514
110Chicago, IL49.802286106112154
111Brownsville, TX49.75887635156134
112Buffalo, NY49.741071076450174
113Jacksonville, FL49.721131437570113
114Mesa, AZ49.52961091609749
115Tallahassee, FL49.511061377071146
116Garland, TX49.411448512012347
117Riverside, CA49.34569112915952
118Fort Smith, AR49.03781726811068
119Oakland, CA48.991558834133127
120Albuquerque, NM48.941617415873114
121Fontana, CA48.93306115616643
122Oxnard, CA48.91371813317664
123Charleston, WV48.5718114914140100
124Providence, RI48.211123967141155
125San Antonio, TX48.0258124115127125
126Knoxville, TN47.8613011412481144
127Fresno, CA47.7631111126144137
128Lubbock, TX47.62121166898887
129Winston-Salem, NC47.4111697112117119
130Stockton, CA47.3726121145150128
131Rochester, NY47.34124575183180
132Greensboro, NC47.1211915861102138
133Chattanooga, TN47.1216317611855102
134Ontario, CA47.025410014016945
135Las Cruces, NM46.9111123142145143
136Philadelphia, PA46.791082127142176
137Santa Ana, CA46.6692378418042
138Aurora, CO46.5315111214794110
139Moreno Valley, CA46.29436617916878
140Glendale, AZ46.2913151167146115
141Columbus, GA46.169815279136129
142Houston, TX46.1449160130131132
143Dallas, TX46.0691132136139105
144Newport News, VA45.93148103149122112
145Corpus Christi, TX45.47149139121121103
146Milwaukee, WI45.337314498125163
147Indianapolis, IN45.3215215716172123
148Huntington, WV45.27117102151132148
149Columbia, SC45.0928118178101170
150Little Rock, AR44.731741778682116
151Springfield, MO44.5011818013510489
152Baton Rouge, LA44.4712517010477161
153Dover, DE44.391759363138164
154Wichita, KS44.381691651727969
155Norfolk, VA44.2610962170152140
156Tucson, AZ44.1912163175149139
157North Las Vegas, NV44.186146182157135
158Fort Lauderdale, FL43.7116412893161126
159Miami, FL43.47744821181162
160St. Louis, MO43.266518116276159
161Richmond, VA43.22162115139114158
162New Haven, CT43.1746104138164165
163Akron, OH43.12153101159113172
164Wilmington, DE42.981148962154179
165Mobile, AL42.41131154169135136
166Gulfport, MS42.1510116969163151
167Toledo, OH41.99105133173119171
168Hialeah, FL41.941682219182153
169Bridgeport, CT41.931224596171175
170Montgomery, AL41.76132150166130156
171New Orleans, LA41.5540136157165173
172Baltimore, MD40.74146147155109177
173Augusta, GA40.53133161136151157
174Jackson, MS40.3872179131140167
175Shreveport, LA39.96120178119158149
176Fayetteville, NC39.85111171164160147
177Newark, NJ38.721716538179178
178San Bernardino, CA38.1723164177178152
179Birmingham, AL37.80137175171148169
180Memphis, TN34.92167182165143168
181Cleveland, OH34.5083159176167181
182Detroit, MI34.1582162180162182

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (1)

Playgrounds per Capita


  • T-1. New York, NY
  • T-1. Chicago, IL
  • T-1. Charlotte, NC
  • 4. Houston, TX
  • 5. Madison, WI

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (2)


  • 97. Garland, TX
  • 98. Jersey City, NJ
  • 99. Newark, NJ
  • 100. Gilbert, AZ
  • 101. Hialeah, FL

Best City vs. Worst City: 13x Difference

New York, NY vs. Hialeah, FL

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (3)



  • T-1. New York, NY
  • T-1. Los Angeles, CA
  • T-1. Las Vegas, NV
  • T-1. Chicago, IL
  • T-1. San Francisco, CA

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (4)

(Video) 2022’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (5)

Median Family Salary (Adjusted for Cost of Living)

Highest Salary

  • T-1. Columbia, MD
  • T-1. Overland Park, KS
  • T-1. Scottsdale, AZ
  • T-1. Gilbert, AZ
  • T-1. Plano, TX

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (6)

Lowest Salary

  • 178. Bridgeport, CT
  • 179. Detroit, MI
  • 180. New York, NY
  • 181. Hialeah, FL
  • 182. Newark, NJ

Best City vs. Worst City: 3x Difference

Columbia, MD vs. Newark, NJ

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (7)

Housing Affordability

Most Affordable

  • 1. Cedar Rapids, IA
  • 2. Akron, OH
  • 3. Overland Park, KS
  • 4. Pittsburgh, PA
  • 5. Des Moines, IA

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (8)

Least Affordable

  • 178. Long Beach, CA
  • 179. Miami, FL
  • T-180. Glendale, CA
  • T-180. Los Angeles, CA
  • 182. New York, NY
(Video) United States - 5 Best Places To Raise A Family In 2021 - The Safest And Most Prosperous

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (9)

% of Families with Young Kids

Highest %

  • 1. Aurora, IL
  • 2. Laredo, TX
  • 3. Gilbert, AZ
  • 4. Bakersfield, CA
  • 5. Fontana, CA

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (10)

Best City vs. Worst City: 2x Difference

Aurora, IL vs. Pearl City, HI

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (11)

Violent-Crime Rate per Capita

Lowest Rate

  • 1. Irvine, CA
  • 2. Warwick, RI
  • 3. Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4. Glendale, CA
  • 5. Gilbert, AZ

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (12)

(Video) Top 10 WORST PLACES To Live In Florida For 2023

Highest Rate

  • T-168. Baltimore, MD
  • T-168. Birmingham, AL
  • T-168. St. Louis, MO
  • T-168. Detroit, MI
  • T-168. Memphis, TN

Best City vs. Worst City: 46x Difference

Irvine, CA vs. Memphis, TN

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (13)

% of Families Living Below Poverty Line

Lowest %

  • 1. South Burlington, VT
  • 2. Pearl City, HI
  • 3. Fremont, CA
  • 4. Overland Park, KS
  • 5. Gilbert, AZ

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (14)

Highest %

  • 178. Newark, NJ
  • 179. Brownsville, TX
  • 180. Rochester, NY
  • 181. Cleveland, OH
  • 182. Detroit, MI

Best City vs. Worst City: 11x Difference

South Burlington, VT vs. Detroit, MI

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (15)

Divorce Rate

Lowest Rate

  • 1. Fremont, CA
  • 2. Irvine, CA
  • 3. Pearl City, HI
  • 4. San Jose, CA
  • 5. Glendale, CA

Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family (16)

(Video) Best and Worst Places to Raise a Famly

Highest Rate

  • 178. Wilmington, DE
  • 179. Rochester, NY
  • 180. Birmingham, AL
  • 181. Detroit, MI
  • 182. Cleveland, OH

Best City vs. Worst City: 4x Difference

Fremont, CA vs. Cleveland, OH

Show More

Ask the Experts

Raising a family is a tall order. And with so many important decisions to make, it’s often difficult to determine where to turn for help with family matters. We turned to experts in the fields of family studies, psychology and household finance for tips, insights and a few cautionary tales. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. To what degree is a child’s development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live? How?
  2. Despite the online learning challenges, has there been any positive value for families in this year at home?
  3. How can local officials make their cities more attractive to young families?
  4. What should families consider when choosing a place to set down roots?
  5. In evaluating the best cities for families, what are the top 5 indicators?
  6. Given the current pandemic context, what are the most important steps parents can take to help their children grow up healthy?

Ask the Experts

Allison Karpyn
Ph.D. – Co-Director, Center for Research Education and Social Policy (CRESP), Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Sciences – University of Delaware
Read More

Derek Gwinn
Director of Relationship Education, Center for Healthy Relationships; Assistant Professor of Family Studies – John Brown University
Read More

Madhavi Menon
Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience – Nova Southeastern University
Read More

Tom Chiaromonte
Ph.D. – Director - Center for Early Childhood Collaboration; Professor - Child Development & Educational Studies – Fullerton College
Read More

Lenna Nepomnyaschy
Associate Professor, School of Social Work – Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Read More


In order to determine which cities are most conducive to family life, WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across five key dimensions: 1) Family Fun, 2) Health & Safety, 3) Education & Child Care, 4) Affordability and 5) Socio-economics.

We evaluated those categories using 46 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for family life. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at the state level only. For metrics marked with two asterisks (**), we calculated population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.

Family Fun – Total Points: 20

  • Playgrounds per Capita**: Full Weight (~1.11 Points)
  • Ice Rinks per Capita**: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)
  • Skate Parks per Capita**: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)
  • Bike Rental Facilities per Capita**: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)
  • Mini Golf Locations per Capita**: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)
  • Parkland Acreage per Capita: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)
  • Walkability: Full Weight (~1.11 Points)
  • Bike Score: Full Weight (~1.11 Points)
  • Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~1.11 Points)
    Note: “Attractions” include, for instance, zoos, museums and theaters.
  • Recreation-Friendliness: Double Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “” ranking.
  • Sports-Fan-Friendliness: Double Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best Sports Cities” ranking.
  • Ideal Weather: Quadruple Weight (~4.44 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “” ranking.
  • Share of Families with Young Children: Triple Weight (~3.33 Points)
    Note: “Young children” include the population aged 0 to 18.
  • Average Commute Time: Half Weight (~0.56 Points)

Health & Safety – Total Points: 20

  • Air Quality: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Water Quality: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Limited Access to Healthy Foods: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
    Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 18.
  • Public Hospitals Ranking*: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Infant Mortality Rate: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Pedestrian-Fatality Rate: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Driving Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Family Homelessness: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the number of homeless people in families per total homeless population.
  • Percentage of Residents Who Are Fully Vaccinated: Double Weight (~2.50 Points)

Education & Child Care – Total Points: 20

  • School-System Quality: Double Weight (~6.15 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on average score.
  • High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.54 Points)
  • Child-Care Costs*: Half Weight (~1.54 Points)
    Note: This metric was adjusted for the median family income.
  • Child Day-Care Services per Capita: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Childcare Workers per Total Number of Children under 14 Years: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Parental-Leave Policy Score*: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on the report card from Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents.
  • Summer Learning Opportunities per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.54 Points)

Affordability – Total Points: 20

  • Cost of Living: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
  • Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Housing Costs (accounts for both rent and home-sales prices).
  • Wallet Wellness: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “” ranking.

Socio-economics – Total Points: 20

  • Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Share of Families Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Debt per Median Earnings: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~2.35 Points)
  • Foreclosure Rate: Half Weight (~1.18 Points)

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council for Community and Economic Research, The Trust for Public Land, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Partnership for Women & Families, TripAdvisor, Walk Score, ATTOM Data Solutions, Chmura Economics & Analytics, TransUnion, Yelp, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,, Numbeo and WalletHub research.

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(Video) 2019’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family

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