Top-Rated Cities to Raise a Family in the United States - Baby Chick
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Top-Rated Cities to Raise a Family in the United States

Where you decide to raise a family takes into consideration a lot of factors. Check out our list of some of the best cities to raise a family.

Published May 7, 2023 Opinion

People consider several factors when looking for the best place to live and raise a family. We want affordability, safety, good schools, and job opportunities. Many cities offer us these opportunities, but some are better than others. Families want places that are kid-friendly with reasonable living costs. Here is a list of some of the best cities to raise a family in the United States.

Plano, Texas

Plano, TX

The Lone Star state is the first stop on our list of the best cities to raise a family. Plano, Texas, is among the top cities to raise a family, with a population of 289,000. According to the 2022 U.S. Census, it is a medium-sized city with plenty of things for a family to do. The median home value is $358,100, and 57% of residents in Plano own their homes versus renting them. The median sales price of a home in the United States is $436,800. For those who rent, the census reported that the average monthly rent cost is $1,541.1,6

The median household income for Plano residents is $99,729, above the U.S. median household income of $70,784. Larger salaries allow families to spend more time doing fun things, and Plano has plenty.1,2

According to Public School Review, Plano has 77 public schools serving 49,733 students. In addition, the city boasts 52 private schools, serving 7,918. Texas averages $9,300 annually for those needing child care, which is mid-range in the United States. Childcare prices range from $5,357 to $17,171 in the country.3,4,5,8

Plano’s tourist site,, lists great information for dining, activities, and places to stay.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Sunrise at the Sandbridge pier

If you are looking for a great place to live and raise your kids in a decent climate by the ocean, look no further than Virginia Beach. The coastal town of 455,618 has many reasonably-priced homes with an average cost of $295,900. To rent a home in Virginia Beach, a person should plan to spend a little more than $1,400 per month. According to the district website, Virginia public schools educate about 63,000 children, and 94% of students graduate on time. Childcare in Virginia is high, and parents can expect to spend as much as $14,000 annually.5,9,10

While the city is picturesque, with excellent schools and plenty of things to do, Virginia Beach is a pricy place to live. The cost of rent in Virginia Beach is a little more than $1,400, but the median household salary is $81,810. A two-income family would do well in this city.9

Residents and visitors have plenty of things to do and see. From state parks to excellent dining and fine arts opportunities, Virginia Beach offers families fun activities to choose from. The city has plenty of playgrounds for kids and a perfect park system.11

Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln skyline and Nebraska State Capitol. The Nebraska State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of Nebraska and is located in downtown Lincoln.

Head right to the middle of the country and look around Lincoln for the next place on our best cities to raise a family list. The Nebraska city is growing in population, but it maintains affordability. Lincoln is on the smaller side, with a population of approximately 292,627. Homes in Lincoln are affordable, with a medium home price of $193,800, well below the national average of $436,800. Average rent comes in under $1,000, making the city attractive.6,12

However, Lincoln’s cost of living is on the lower end. A family of four can live in the city for about $3,500 a month, and the median household income is $62,566. Childcare in Nebraska averages $12,000 per year.5,12,13

Lincoln Public Schools is rated highly, which gives it an A- rating with high marks for teachers, diversity, clubs, and organizations. The city is also home to the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Southeast Community College.14

Boise, Idaho

View of Boise downtown and Idaho Capitol on a fine autumn morning as seen from Capitol Blvd, Boise, Idaho, USA

The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful part of the country and home to Boise, a medium-sized city in Idaho with a little more than 236,000 residents. Annual incomes average about $68,373 for residents of Boise, but the average home price in Boise is $322,300. The cost of living with rent for a family of four is approximately $5,200, making it a bit pricier than other cities.15,16

According to Public School Review, Boise students score above the state average in math and reading. Seventy-three public schools in Boise educate 31,656, and 31 private schools serve 4,684 students. Additionally, childcare in Idaho is among the lowest in the country, with an average monthly cost of $1,317.17,18

Commute time in Boise is around 20 minutes, which is friendly for people with kids because you only spend a little time in the car daily.19

Raleigh, North Carolina

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, USA Drone Skyline Aerial.

For the next place on our list of best cities to raise a family, head to Raleigh, North Carolina, where temperatures are warm most of the year, and there is plenty of Southern hospitality. The city is large, with more than 476,000 people, and the median value of a home in Raleigh is $285,400. The average household annual salary is $72,996. A family of four can expect to spend about $5,200 a month.20,21

Parents who put their children into childcare are looking at about $1,400 per month. Niche gave several districts around the Raleigh area high marks in academics. Wake County Schools were rated highest and given an A+.21,22

More people generally mean more jobs, opportunities, and things to do. If you’re looking for leisure activities, Raleigh has pools, tennis courts, volleyball nets, and pickleball courts, which are popping up nationwide. There are plenty of dining hot spots, cultural events, and must-do kid-friendly activities. And some people call Raleigh the “Smithsonian of the South” because it is home to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Caroline Museum of Art, and the North Carolina Museum of History.

Naperville, Illinois

Naperville, Illinois, USA - June 9, 2017: Daytime view of the downtown district in fifth-largest city in Illinois located outside Chicago

Naperville, Illinois, might be for you if you love the convenience of a big city but not city living. A quiet suburb of Chicago, Naperville is close to the vast metropolitan area with tons of culture and fun things and is home to less than 150,000 people.23

If you want to live in Naperville, the median value of a home is $433,400. Homes are pricey, as is the cost of living at about $5,200 per month for a family of four. But the median household income in Naperville is more than $135,000. Higher incomes allow those living in the suburb to enjoy time having fun.23,24

Childcare averages less than $1,000 a month. Three Naperville schools were named Blue Ribbon schools in 2022, a proud distinction representing the country’s best schools.24

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia at the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season with the Rosslyn business district cityscape.

Arlington is home to 234,000 residents, and the median value of a home in Arlington costs about $755,000, making it expensive but still desirable to many families. The median household income is $128,145, but childcare costs are high, running more than $2,000 monthly for the D.C. area. The district educates 26,800 students, and over 80% are proficient in math and reading.25,26,27

If you are paying a lot to live in a city, you want perks, and Arlington has them. Arlington National Cemetery is a big draw for locals, tourists, and history buffs. Arlington is just outside Washington, D.C., where there are many sites to see, places to visit, and food to enjoy. But the town also boasts several parks and playgrounds, making it an excellent place for the kids to play and get outside. Check out Stay Arlington for guides to the city and great places to visit and stay.

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama, USA park and downtown cityscape at twilight.

The small city with 221,000 residents will likely tell you Huntsville is an excellent place for a family to relax and enjoy while living a pretty cost-effective dream. Huntsville’s median home value is $194,500, which is reasonable for a town with so much to offer. A family of four might spend just under $3,600 a month living there, and the average household income is around $60,000. That leaves plenty to spend on extras.28,29

The Huntsville City School District serves 23,514 students in 46 schools. The district has an overall graduation rate of 90%, ranking in the top 50% in the state. Childcare costs in Alabama are the second lowest in the country, averaging just $350 a month, making the city fantastic for growing families.29,30

Huntsville has a rich history, including being involved in the space race of the 1960s.31

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Breathtaking sunrise aerial scenic view of morning rush hour traffic on Tower Drive Bridge. Highway 43 spanning the Fox River in Green Bay Wisconsin.

While it is cold up north in Green Bay, that doesn’t stop a Packers fan from sitting in the snow with their cheese hat on. Football fans and families flock to Green Bay, a population of 106,000, for a small-town feel with some big-city perks.32

A home in Green Bay is affordable, with a median value of $151,000. A family of four’s cost of living is about $4,000 a month, with the average household income around $55,000. This is the type of town where a two-income family would work well, and there would be plenty of money left to spend on fun in Green Bay.32,33

The Green Bay Area Public School District is Wisconsin’s fourth largest, serving 21,000 students through 36 schools. Niche gave the school district a B overall rating and felt academics were lacking. For those looking at childcare, Green Bay parents can expect to pay $1,338 per month.33,34,35

This location on our list of the best cities to raise a family has plenty of things to do outside, like the New Zoo Adventure Park and many indoor and outdoor water parks. Kids and parents can all stay busy and enjoy a little fun.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

American flag flying on the downtown Fayetteville square.

Fayetteville is home to just under 100,000 residents, making it the perfect home for families who want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of a large city and plant roots in a medium-sized city. The city has a high cost of living at $4,900 for a family of four. On average, a home costs $255,600, and the median household income is $52,111. The higher cost of living could be a concern for those looking to live in the small but lively Arkansas city.36,37

Schools in the Fayetteville School District serve 10,000 children from prekindergarten to grade 12, and more than half are proficient in math, reading, or both. Niche gave the school an overall A rating with the highest marks in academics, clubs, activities, and college prep. Arkansas has a relatively low childcare cost of approximately $800 a month.37,38

Fayetteville is the place for college football, and residents take the University of Arkansas’ Razorbacks seriously.

So, what do you think of our list of the best cities to raise a family? There are many places to consider, but they are all great choices. Where you decide to raise a family takes into consideration a lot of factors, which will be different for every family. Take your time and research to pick the perfect place to put down roots and make memories to last a lifetime.

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Colleen Dilthey Thomas is a mother of four, three boys and one girl, and a freelance writer. She offers her life experience and a bit of wisdom to a variety… Read more

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