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The Best U.S. Cities for Raising a Family in 2023

Families move often and for various reasons. According to a new analysis from WalletHub, experts detail which cities are ranked the best and worst places to raise a family in 2023.

New data from the Census Bureau revealed 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. During this period of high inflation, many families will consider moving to a place with a relatively low cost of living.

What should families consider when choosing a place to set down roots?

"When families look to set down roots, they should pay attention to the quality of schools (not just test scores)," said Rob Weisskirch, MSW, Ph.D., Professor of Human Development. "Schools nowadays may provide more support for families and be hubs for learning that is not easily measured in standardized tests. Schools that indicate they do not teach toward the tests seem to indicate they have a stronger mission for learning. Families should also look for those assets in the community that are consistent with their values.

WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 45 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.

Top 10 Best Cities to Raise a Family in 2023:

  1. Fremont, CA
  2. Overland Park, KS
  3. Irvine, CA
  4. Plano, TX
  5. South Burlington, VA
  6. San Diego
  7. San Jose, CA
  8. Scottsdale, AZ
  9. Gilbert, AZ
  10. San Francisco

Top 10 Worst Cities to Raise a Family in 2023:

  1. Wilmington, DE
  2. Hialeah, FL
  3. Baltimore
  4. Shreveport, LA
  5. San Bernardino, CA
  6. Newark, NJ
  7. Birmingham, AL
  8. Detroit
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Cleveland

To what degree is a child’s development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in? How?

"Where you live is connected to your overall health and well-being and research shows that up to 60% of your health is determined solely by your zip code," said Adrienne M. Duke, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Extension Specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Human Sciences Extension at Auburn University. "Healthcare infrastructure, access to nutritious food, air quality, employment opportunities, education systems, and other things contribute to your family’s health outcomes and overall quality of life."

According to Toni Hill, Ph.D., Professor, Family Science; Program Director, Early Childhood and Family Advocacy (ECFA); and Assistant Department Chair, Counseling, School Psychology, and Family Science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, several factors need to be considered before a family set down roots in a community.

  • Food dessert
  • Housing desert
  • Childcare desert
  • Older adult service desert

In evaluating the best cities for families, what are the top 5 indicators?

  1. Easily accessible recreational green spaces, especially with bodies of fresh water.
  2. Resources such as museums, zoos, libraries, and art galleries.
  3. Low crime rates.
  4. Ethnic diversity.
  5. Excellent public transportation.

"For families involved in their faith, they may want to be close to their church, synagogue, or mosque because they will spend time there," said Weisskirch. "Families interested in the arts may want to check for a vibrant arts community, Also, families might want to consider commute times to activities. With so many distractions nowadays, parents who can be present, physically and mentally, when they are with their kids tend to report more satisfaction with parenting."

To read the full report, including more data, charts and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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