Key takeaways:

  • Plano emerges as the best city to raise a family, based on a series of metrics including public school ratings, safety, recreation opportunities, and more
  • The South dominates the list of the 20 most family-friendly cities, with Texas grabbing no less than five spots in the ranking
  • Half of the top 20 best cities for families with children are mid-size (200K-300K people)

Better housing has long been the main driver behind migration in the U.S., with family-related reasons following closely behind. In fact, one in three Americans move for family-related circumstances, and the environment shapes essential family dynamics, creating reverberations for generations to come.

But what makes a favorable environment for raising children? Safe neighborhoods, access to quality education, and cultural and outdoor opportunities spring to mind, but affordability and a vibrant job market are also features that can support positive family growth.

With location in mind, we wanted to find out which places are best equipped to cater to the family lifestyle. To do that, we selected the 100 most populous cities for which data was available and ranked them across a series of criteria touching on public school ratings, safety, socio-economic factors — home prices, rent, income, childcare cost etc. — share of families with children, cultural and outdoor recreation opportunities and more. We also included self storage among the metrics as it’s a valuable service frequently used by families to help them manage their home space.

According to our study, Plano, TX, Virginia Beach, VA and Lincoln, NE, and get to the front of the pack of the most family-friendly cities, with a great mix of family-oriented amenities, a reasonable cost of living and good schools. Half of the 20 best cities for families are mid-size, showing that families can find great places to thrive outside of the biggest cities.

The 20 best cities to raise a family largely dominated by Texas

Beyond the crowded California to Texas migration route, Texas has become the go-to place for Americans across the country as the income-to-expenses ratio still allows for comfortable living. Plus, the state has many perks in terms of lifestyle amenities as well as great schools and a diverse housing market. It may come as no surprise then that Texas has 5 cities in the top 20 hotspots for family living, with Plano ranking first in the state and nationally among the 100 biggest cities.

Top 20 Best US Cities for Families With Children

Only a 30-minute drive north of Dallas, Plano combines a wealth of urban and suburban amenities to deliver a well-rounded family-lifestyle experience. The city stands out as one of the places offering great chances of top-notch education, with its public school ratings placing it first overall. Home to some of the best schools in the state of Texas, including the Wyatt Elementary School, Renner Middle School and Jasper High School, the city has a 96% graduation rate. Additionally, close to 60% of Plano residents aged 25 and over hold a bachelor’s degree, one of the highest shares of college graduates among the adult population in our ranking.

Home prices in Plano sit at around $533K, above the average in our list, but local incomes can offset this higher price tag. As it turns out, the median household income for Plano families is one the highest in the country, inching close to $116K/year. Residents also have access to premier apartment living as the city came in third nationally for luxury apartment construction over the past decade, with local communities featuring everything from on-site gyms and pools to playgrounds and smart home technology. Plano’s self storage market is well equipped to respond to families’ needs for extra space, with street rates for a Plano storage unit averaging $107 per month.

Moreover, not only is Plano a place where children can easily find playmates, with 33% of households having children, but they can do so while staying safe. That’s because another of the aces up Plano’s sleeve is its excellent neighborhood safety. Additionally, there are about 4.7 playgrounds/10K people, significantly above our list’s average of 2.9/10K residents. Thanks to the warm climate, Plano residents can enjoy the outdoors year-round, including great access to pools – which guarantees children can have a splash zone as often as possible. Recreational camps and unique events such as the Plano Balloon Festival & Run also add to Plano’s appeal as an ideal place to raise a family.

Plano Texas Oak Point Nature Preserve
Plano, Texas, Oak Point Nature Preserve

In terms of the healthcare landscape, local households with children can have peace of mind knowing they are well cared for. Plano in fact comes second for the number of health centers related to population, with about 5 healthcare establishments/1,000 people. Through the Connect4Health initiative, the city encourages healthy habits for all residents, families included.

Austin is the second Texan location in our list of best cities for raising children, earning high marks for its stellar education and excellent amenities including a pool-friendly environment (3.3 pools/100K residents). Austin ranks second for its public schools, with fine institutions such as the Liberal Arts and Science Academy earning a 99% average graduation rate and the title of “best high school” in Texas. More than half of the locals over 25 years old hold a B.A. or a higher degree.

As one of the favorite moving destinations in the U.S., Austin’s real estate scene is by no means cheap, but compared to other buzzing urban hubs, it still provides access to comfortable living. Zooming in specifically on the cost of homes, prices are in fact above average, hovering at about $642K. However, family incomes are some of the most generous on our list ($121K/year), thanks, in part, to Austin’s status as the tech and innovation hub. Moreover, childcare costs for the average family (with two children) are moderate ($1,190/month). Self storage costs are also below national averages, with an Austin storage unit renting for about $125/month.

Austin Texas Skyline
Austin, Texas

El Paso joins the other Texas hotspots in providing a family-friendly urban scene. The city ranked high for safety, registering the 6th-lowest crime rate, and has excellent public schools. One of the biggest draws for any family is the city’s affordability, with home prices hovering around $200K, on average. Moreover, El Paso registers the 5th-lowest rent in our ranking, with renters paying around $980/month. Living here means you also pay less for food, and El Paso boasts the 5th-lowest cost of groceries among the big cities.

Virginia has three top-10 entries for families

The first Northwestern city in our list, Virginia Beach, Virginia snatches the second position in our national list of best cities for raising a family. Besides boasting excellent schools, Virginia Beach also has the 7th-lowest crime rate on our list and the 6th-best air quality, making it an ideal environment for families to live in. Based on affordability, it is an attractive city to move to, with home prices hovering around $377K and rents of about $1,590/month in the ballpark of the national average figure.

Family-friendly activities don’t fall short of the mark here, as there are around 5.4 playgrounds per 10K locals, the 5th-largest number of playgrounds when accounting for population. There are also close to 2.6 volleyball nets/20K locals. Residents can also hike, walk their dog, bike or simply enjoy the outdoors thanks to the presence of about 6.7 parks/10K people per The Trust for Public Land data and it boasts one of the best park systems in the country. Besides family fun, there’s something for Virginia Beach parents too if they’re planning a childfree night on the town. The local restaurant scene is livelier than in most other cities, with 2.4 restaurants available per 1,000 Virginia Beach residents.

Arlington, Virginia, is the second Northeastern and Virginian city to make it to the list. Thanks to the presence of major companies in the area and the wealth of government employment opportunities in neighboring Washington DC, Arlington families bring home the third-highest median household income among the cities analyzed – slightly surpassing $190K/year. That can help keep expenditures manageable when considering the high cost of living and pricey real estate. Homes in Arlington are among the most expensive in the nation, and only a handful of cities, mostly Californian hotspots, have higher prices than Arlington’s median price tag ($834K). To help cope with limited space at home, an Arlington storage unit can help ease some of that burden.

Overall, Arlington ensures a good environment for bringing up a family, with safe neighborhoods, education-oriented communities and lots of green space. It has the third-lowest crime rate in our list and the highest percentage of college graduates among the 100 cities analyzed. A whopping 77% of locals aged 25+ hold a B.A. or a higher degree. For people with green thumbs, Arlington is the place to be, with about 2.5 community plots/1,000 residents, one of the highest concentration of gardening spots as a proportion of population on our list. Additionally, as one of the best cities for leading an active lifestyle in the country, there are plenty of opportunities to practice sports here, including tennis, with about 7.8 courts/20K locals, the second-highest number of tennis courts as a proportion of the population. It also boasts the 8th-highest numbers of both volleyball nets and pickleball courts relative to population, with 2.6 of the former and 2 of the latter per 20K residents.

Arlington Virginia Skyline
Arlington Virginia Skyline

Bronze winner Lincoln shows Nebraska is not for flying over

The capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln emerges as the third best city to raise a family, sporting its many aces up its sleeve. The city has experienced rapid growth in the past few years, all the while maintaining an affordable status. Housing costs include both home prices ($266K) and monthly rents ($1,150) that are well below the national benchmarks. The median household income stands at $83K, adding to the favorable cost-of-living scenario. Besides excellent living conditions, public schools are highly rated, with Lincoln East High School ranking as one of the best in the state. Moreover, parents can pick up their children from school all the while foregoing a long trip, as Lincoln boasts the second-shortest commute in our list (18 minutes).

Star City is a great place to raise children also thanks to its healthy natural environment, with Lincoln claiming the 11th best air quality in our top. The opportunities for staying active are also immense and cater to a variety of tastes, including basketball with about 9 basketball hoops/10K people, the 9th highest number related to population, 4.5 playgrounds/10K residents and 1.4 pickleball courts/20K residents. For tennis fans, the 4.3 courts/20K people provide an excellent way to stay active while engaged in a preferred activity. In terms of greenery, children and adults alike can easily enjoy the urban outdoor space here, as there are about 5 parks/10K locals. The Pioneers Park Nature Center, for one, offers access to a wildlife sanctuary, various hiking trails and an environmental education center.

Lincoln Nebraska with State Capitol Building
Lincoln, Nebraska, with State Capitol Building

The Pacific Northwest offers families Boise, ID, & Portland, OR

Much like Texas’ Austin, Boise, Idaho is a fast-growing city whose popularity during the pandemic has tempered its previous claims to affordability. But overall, it still offers great perks to make it one of the best cities for families with children. Most households with kids earn close to $84K/year, while home prices cost, on average, $515K. Living here means you pay a little less than most big-city residents for childcare ($1,290/month) and your dollar also goes further regarding the price of food. In fact, Boise boasts the 11th-lowest cost for grocery shopping in our list. Renting a self storage unit in Boise – a very useful service in managing home space – costs around $119/month.

The quality of local education recommends Boise to families with children, and it ranks 7th among the country’s top 100 cities for its public school rankings, with Boise Senior High School judged to be the best public high school in the state. Moreover, 48% of adults aged +25 are B.A. holders, also thanks to the presence of Boise State University which is ranked among the most innovative schools across the nation. Besides excellent education, the City of Trees is also one of the safest places to live in, as Boise has a low crime rate.

Flanked by the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin Desert, Boise has the perfect natural setting for staying active. In fact, green spaces have a strong presence in Boise, with 5.8 parks/10K residents available. Moreover, tennis players can rejoice — there are about 7 courts/20,000 residents, the 5th-highest distribution by population in our ranking.

Boise Idaho Skyline
Boise, Idaho

Another great place for families that’s also big on the outdoors is Boise’s neighbor to the west, Portland, Oregon. Featuring amazing parks and trails to explore, the city comes first for community garden plots — with 4.5 of them per 1,000 residents — and it gets 10th place for air quality.

Local public education also stands out, with Portland boasting the 9th-best public schools on our list. More than half of the adults here have a college degree, with about 20% more having bachelor’s degrees than the national average. Home prices ($582K) might be higher than average, but so is the typical Portland family paycheck that exceeds six figures ($105K/year).

Besides outdoor recreation, children and parents can also take part in the local cultural events, be they theatre performances or sports. Portland has several professional sports teams including in soccer, baseball and basketball — let’s go, Blazers! And what better way to top off a day of sporting events than to go out for a bite to eat. Portland still lives up to its reputation as the best food city in America — you can find every cuisine here, whether you go for street eats or a classic restaurant. In fact, there are about 3.3 restaurants/1,000 locals in Portland, the fifth-largest distribution of dining spots as a proportion of population.

Scottsdale, AZ, is the Southwest’s most family-friendly city

The first Southwestern city to make our list, Scottsdale, Arizona, has a host of features that recommend it to families looking to raise their children in a great setting. Scottsdale ranks third for its public schools and is home to some of the best high schools in the state, including BASIS Scottsdale, a top charter high school nationally. Almost 60% of adults completed at least a bachelor’s degree, making Scottsdale one of the most college-educated large cities in the country.

The local real estate scene isn’t cheap, with the median home price sitting at around $861K and the cost of groceries and childcare is higher than the 100-city average. However, Scottsdale families make a pretty penny here, bringing home about $140K/year, the 7th-highest income by familial household.

Thanks to a low crime rate, Scottsdale is a safe place to live, attracting many families with children in the area. Moreover, the city benefits from the proximity of various healthcare providers, including the Mayo-Clinic Phoenix, St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and the Banner University Medical Center. Overall, Scottsdale comes first for access to healthcare, with close to 6 health centers/1,000 people.

Zooming in on rental living, it turns out that all apartment communities are outfitted with pools, according to a recent Storagecafé study, so both children and adults are likely to take advantage of the water fun the area provides. Additionally, thanks to the combination of easy access to exercise venues and membership fees, Scottsdale is the second-best city for fitness centers. Weather permitting, locals can enjoy a game of volleyball in Old Town, with the city providing about 2.5 nets/20K residents.

Scottsdale is also showing its family-friendly side through the variety of events children and adults can take part in here. The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is only a stone’s throw away and features carnival rides, railroad exhibits and much more. Additionally, golf courses, country clubs and bowling centers are there for adults, which means the city has something for every member of the family. It may come as no surprise then that Scottsdale comes first in our top 100 for its recreational options, with about 0.6 entertainment venues/1,000 locals.

Scottsdale Arizona with Canal
Scottsdale, Arizona

Self storage comes to the aid of families with children

An essential service during many life events, self storage can assist in any type of move. It can be particularly useful for families with children to help them use their living space more efficiently, whether they’re looking to keep a clutter-free home or they’re engaging in a home improvement project. Seasonal clothing, winter sports equipment, seasonal decorations and golf or fishing gear can sit in a storage unit until they are needed. This frees up extra space so that the entire household can enjoy every moment spent together at home.

Moving in with your extended family is another occasion when self storage can assist. When two (or more) generations come together under the same roof, at least one of them is likely to need additional room for appliances, furniture, clothing and family heirlooms.

To see where families get the best chances for enjoying airy, clutter-free homes, we’ve looked at self storage prices and availability in the 100 biggest cities.

Naturally, the cost of self storage can vary based on location and size, among other factors. For instance, Oklahoma City units are the most affordable, followed by those in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bakersfield, California, and Omaha, Nebraska. At the opposite end of the spectrum, and staying true to the real estate fundamentals of the area, storage units in San Francisco, California, are the most expensive.

Self Storage Prices and Availability

CityStateSelf Storage Rent*Sq. Ft. per Capita
Oklahoma City, OKOK$8010.0
Tulsa, OKOK$8211.9
Bakersfield, CACA$8512.1
Wichita, KSKS$877.2
Omaha, NENE$889.0
Des Moines, IAIA$906.0
Winston Salem, NCNC$903.3
Lubbock, TXTX$9115.1
Memphis, TNTN$929.1
Louisville, KYKY$949.6
Toledo, OHOH$946.0
Greensboro, NCNC$9511.2
Columbus, OHOH$975.5
Cincinnati, OHOH$10012.1
Corpus Christi, TXTX$10010.6
Raleigh, NCNC$10010.0
Lincoln, NENE$1006.3
Houston, TXTX$10111.6
Arlington, TXTX$1019.7
Fort Worth, TXTX$1018.8
Garland, TXTX$1018.1
Irving, TXTX$1027.7
El Paso, TXTX$1026.4
Baton Rouge, LALA$10319.6
Laredo, TXTX$1037.7
Durham, NCNC$10410.5
Norfolk, VAVA$1048.4
Milwaukee, WIWI$1045.1
Charlotte, NCNC$1068.2
Plano, TXTX$10712.4
Saint Louis, MOMO$1078.3
Albuquerque, NMNM$1099.5
Lexington, KYKY$1116.6
Mesa, AZAZ$1129.9
Virginia Beach, VAVA$11312.6
Pittsburgh, PAPA$11310.4
Chesapeake, VAVA$11310.1
Madison, WIWI$1145.1
Colorado Springs, COCO$11513.2
North Las Vegas, NVNV$1157.9
Cleveland, OHOH$1154.6
San Antonio, TXTX$11611.1
Kansas City, MOMO$1166.2
Minneapolis, MNMN$1164.3
Richmond, VAVA$11717.4
Fresno, CACA$1178.9
Glendale, AZAZ$1178.7
Boise City, IDID$11916.1
Aurora, COCO$1217.6
Dallas, TXTX$1217.7
Reno, NVNV$12318.3
Tampa, FLFL$12317.0
Tucson, AZAZ$12311.5
Orlando, FLFL$12526.2
Austin, TXTX$12510.1
Spokane, WAWA$12611.7
Jacksonville, FLFL$1269.7
Baltimore City, MDMD$1267.2
Gilbert, AZAZ$1277.5
Phoenix, AZAZ$1276.5
Nashville, TNTN$1275.6
Las Vegas, NVNV$12820.2
Buffalo, NYNY$1313.3
Henderson, NVNV$1339.3
Stockton, CACA$1337.1
Riverside, CACA$13611.3
Chandler, AZAZ$1377.8
Denver, COCO$1387.0
New Orleans, LALA$1406.5
Newark, NJNJ$1412.4
Chicago, ILIL$1424.3
Portland, OROR$1467.2
Atlanta, GAGA$15210.8
Sacramento, CACA$15311.2
Philadelphia, PAPA$1553.5
Saint Paul, MNMN$1561.6
Detroit, MIMI$1581.6
Washington, DCDC$1622.7
Saint Petersburg, FLFL$1662.3
Hialeah, FLFL$1725.1
Irvine, CACA$1749.3
Fremont, CACA$1754.8
Scottsdale, AZAZ$17811.0
San Jose, CACA$1784.6
Miami, FLFL$18418.8
Chula Vista, CACA$1856.5
Santa Ana, CACA$1914.0
San Diego, CACA$1924.5
Anaheim, CACA$1924.0
Long Beach, CACA$1944.8
Anchorage, AKAK$1964.8
Boston, MAMA$2041.1
Oakland, CACA$2053.5
Seattle, WAWA$2094.9
Jersey City, NJNJ$2143.7
Arlington, VAVA$2323.0
New York City, NYNY$2572.6
Honolulu, HIHI$2643.0
Los Angeles, CACA$2701.7
San Francisco, CACA$2742.7
* Non-climate-controlled 10'x10' units
Source: StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data

All things considered, many U.S. cities are well positioned to provide access to quality family settings, but the South is the region with the most entries in the selection of family-friendly cities. Large or small, what they all have in common is that they combine affordability, excellent schools, overall safety, outdoor recreation, entertainment venues and more – all essential for an rich and fulfilling lifestyle for the entire family.

Check out how each city in our ranking fares in terms of overall and individual metrics:

What the experts are saying

Caroline Clauss-Ehlers, PhD, ABPP
Co-author of Eating Together, Being Together: Recipes, Activities, and Advice from a Chef Dad and Psychologist Mom CC Clauss-Ehlers

1. What essential features should families be looking for when choosing a place to raise children?

There are so many important things to consider when thinking about where you want to raise a family. Added to the anxiety is the fear that you might miss something along the way — that you’ll decide on a place and wake up one morning and say — “I forgot to look at the schools!” Ultimately your family has to prioritize those qualities that are most important to you — in other words, the things that are non-negotiable in your decision about where you plan to live and raise a family. Here are some ideas:

Schools are of top importance in choosing a place to raise a family. Do the schools reflect the values you care about? Are they close to where you’d like to live? Are there afterschool programs that will support you as a working parent? Another essential feature is choosing a place to live that’s close to family and friends. COVID has certainly reminded us of the importance of connecting with loved ones. This also relates to what the commute will be like for you. Is where you’re thinking about living close or far from work? Will the commute interfere with quality time with your kids? Being able to work from home since COVID has afforded new levels of flexibility — but even if you have to go into the office a couple times a week, what will that commute look like?

Affordability is another major factor. Are rents or property taxes high? Is the cost of living expensive? A recent Pew Research Center survey* found that 49% of adults in the U.S. said finding affordable housing was an issue. This is almost half of all adults! Choosing a place where you can live comfortably is important because it has an impact on other aspects of your life — like having the economic means to do the things you want to do as a family.

How accessible are grocery stores in the community you’re thinking about living in? Inflation and food costs are high — and in response, Americans are eating at home more. Is there a good grocery store nearby? A farmer’s market? In our book Eating Together, Being Together: Recipes, Activities, and Advice from a Chef Dad and Psychologist Mom, my co-author chef husband and I talk about the importance of taking our kids with us to go grocery shopping to develop eating mindfulness, a positive relationship with food, and to forge family connections through this shared activity.

2. Has the recent health crisis affected families' preferences for specific locations?

COVID-19 has had a big impact on families’ preferences for specific locations. The Pew Research Center survey data talks about an increase in people saying they want to live in the suburbs, up from 42% to 46% during the pandemic. People may have moved to the suburbs because it was easier for them to social distance or due to an employment opportunity, among many other reasons.

And of course, during quarantine we saw and lived, first hand, the difficulties of separation. Your family may move to be closer to loved ones to provide care. One of the activities in the soup chapter of Eating Together, Being Together is called Give Love by Sharing Goodness. In this activity, we talk about the ability to decrease isolation with an in-person visit — and if you can, bring some homemade soup with you that your loved one can enjoy.

3. Are any new trends being seen in families' preferences regarding settling down?

There are some interesting and telling new trends being seen in families’ preferences for settling down. The Pew Research Center survey showed that 32% of Americans are interested in living somewhere that provides a sense of community. Many people feel the pandemic has divided communities and are interested in getting back to building a sense of support. Things to keep in mind when looking for a community where you can raise your kids include green outdoor spaces, community events like concerts, sidewalks so people can get out of their cars and walk places, libraries, grocery stores, and community events to mark special days.

There are many factors to think about when trying to decide where you want to live and raise a family. It can be overwhelming — and full of the fear of choosing the wrong place. Throughout the process, I encourage you and yours to stay open to talking about what you’re going through, sharing concerns and hopes, and being fully honest with each other about what and where feels right for you.

* See

Tom Chiaromonte, Ph.D., Director at the Center for Early Childhood Collaboration and Professor of Child Development & Educational Studies, Fullerton College 

What essential features should families be looking for when choosing a place to raise children?

As a Social Scientist and a parent, I believe families of every stripe have the same goals in mind when looking for a community to raise their children. While safety is certainly high on the list, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration:

Affordability seems to be an overwhelming factor in choosing where to live and raise children.

  • Housing costs seem to be out of reach for many families with certain areas being almost impossible to establish a long-term residence. Recently, some communities have provided affordable housing websites to make the find a little easier. A quick Google search with the words “affordable,” “housing,” and the city’s name may be a first step in finding that place to call home. Look for cities with stabilized or controlled rents as well as housing cooperatives. Speak with a lender about any mortgage programs you might be eligible for such as FHA, VA or USDA loans.
  • Childcare can also be a big expense, and in many cases, it’s the second largest monthly bill besides rent or mortgage. Early care and education cooperatives can play a vital role in any community; these programs often require participants to volunteer their time, thus reducing overall costs. For more information on this type of childcare program, check out the Parent Cooperative Preschools International website at Families can also contact their local Resource and Referral organizations to inquire if there are local subsidized childcare programs that they might qualify for: Lastly, some employers may provide assistance in locating childcare for their employees and may even help defray some of the expenses, which is obviously something to consider when looking for a job.

Communities can design parks and outdoor venues for families to get outside, providing physical, mental and emotional health for all.

  • Accessibility to open spaces, both natural and planned, as well as outdoor venues provides a respite from life indoors and the trappings of the ever-present screens and technology. This can help to create what environmentalist and author Richard Louv and others refer to as biophilia or communing with nature. These parks and venues should be close by, easily accessible and designed to allow children of all ages and abilities to learn, explore and be challenged. When deciding on a place to call home for any family, a quick glance at one of several local websites that share information on parks and outdoor events can help determine if a city is worth moving to.

Access to affordable fresh food choices needs to be plentiful, while transportation, whether organic or vehicular, needs to be available and inexpensive.

  • All too often families give in to the distractions of fast food and most cities have their fair share of these convenient but nutritionally problematic eating establishments. In addition, some areas lack variety and availability with regard to healthy food options. Access to farmers' markets, community gardens and grocers with fresh, local produce can not only counter these unhealthy food cravings but can be cost-efficient too.
  • Ideally, getting around any city should be safe for pedestrians and cyclists alike, especially for families with children. If family-friendly venues and parks are not within a reasonable walk or bike ride, inexpensive, reliable and energy-responsible public transportation is also a valuable benefit to any community.

Lastly, a strong foundation of public learning is at the core of any successful community and a strong reason to set down roots. Public learning includes schools, libraries and museums, as well as colleges and universities. Public schools are mandated to educate every child, including children with varying abilities. Families need to understand their rights to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all children.

We all deserve a place to call home, a city, town or hamlet that we can raise a family and build memories. While your present community might not have all the ideals that are listed here, home is where the heart is, and it is where you belong.


This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

The report aims to identify the best cities for families with children. We started by selecting the 100 most populous cities based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Indianapolis, IN, San Juan, PR and Fort Wayne, IN, were excluded from our analysis because of insufficient data.

We ranked these cities based on a series of metrics including public school rankings, family income, cost of living (home prices, apartment rent, cost of groceries, childcare cost and self storage), environmental factors (air quality, walkability, crime rate and commute time), community amenities and recreation opportunities (restaurants, healthcare centers, cultural events, parks and sports venues).

These are the metrics and their weightings:

Public Schools Ranking: 25% - National Center for Education Statistics

  • 7.5%      Achievement Results for State Assessments in Mathematics
  • 7.5%      Achievement Results for State Assessments in Reading/Language Arts
  • 5.0%      Public schools/1,000 People
  • 5.0%      Student-teacher ratio

Economics (Income and Cost of Living): 28%

  • 10.0%   Median household income - families - U.S. Census
  • 4.00%   Cost of groceries - Best Places
  • 4.00%   Childcare costs - Economic Policy Institute
  • 4.00%   Home prices - Zillow
  • 4.00%   Apartment rents - Yardi Matrix
  • 2.00%   Self storage rents and inventory - Yardi Matrix

Environment:  33%

  • 5.0%    % of population 25 years and over with a bachelor's degree or higher - U.S. Census
  • 8.0%      Air quality - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • 2.5%      Walked to work - U.S. Census
  • 2.5%      Commute time (min) - U.S. Census
  • 10.0%   Crime rate - FBI
  • 5.0%      Percent of households with children - U.S. Census

Community Amenities & Recreation: 14%

  • 2.00%   Health centers per 1,000 - U.S. Census
  • 1.00%   Restaurants per 1,000 - U.S. Census
  • 1.00%    Performing arts, spectator sports, and related per 1,000 - U.S. Census
  • 1.00%   Other amusements and recreation industries per 1,000 - U.S. Census
  • 1.00%   Parks per 10,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Playgrounds per 10,000 - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Basketball hoops per 10,000 - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Skate parks per 100,000 - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Swimming pools per 100,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Community garden plots per 1,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Tennis courts per 20,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Volleyball nets per 20,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land
  • 1.00%   Pickleball courts per 20,000 residents - The Trust for Public Land

Data on self storage (rates for a 10’x10’ unit and inventory) came from our sister division Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

Fair use and distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.


Mirela is a creative writer for StorageCafe. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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