Best Cities to Raise a Family in 2021

City of Tallahassee, Florida

Deciding to start a family is an important decision for many people, but that’s not the only decision you’ll have to make. Where you want to plant your roots and build your life will take some planning as well. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best cities to raise your family in the United States. We’ve taken into consideration population size, cost of living, city amenities, crime ratings, and public school systems for each of our top 12 cities to raise a family in 2021.

Tallahassee, Florida

The City of Tallahassee

Tallahassee has some of the best amenities to offer when it comes to raising a family, and you get to enjoy them in a city just shy of  200,000 residents. Not only is there a thriving job market, affordable housing, and a low cost of living, but there are plenty of recreational activities for all ages. That means the money you save on essentials can fund your family weekend activities (Disney is just a short road trip away)!

As Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee hosts dozens of seasonal, cultural, and art festivals throughout the year. The midtown area is the perfect setting to enjoy local cuisine favorites, historic and modern buildings, and beautiful landscaping. Canopy-covered roads and well-maintained parks are just a short drive in any direction. Tallahassee parks are the ideal place for your children to let off some afternoon energy. Whether it’s a playground or a hiking trail you’re looking for, Tallahassee has you covered. And if you’re ready to feel the sand between your toes, you’re also just a short drive to several nearby beaches which you can enjoy almost year-round due to Florida’s wonderfully warm weather.

While family outings are critical, it’s important to schedule time for yourself without the kids. What better way to spend that quality time with your loved one than going out for a date night at one of the local downtown bars or restaurants. Looking for live entertainment? Tallahassee has a local music scene that will surely satisfy your needs, however, you’ll also see bigger names in music stop by the city for a concert or two.

Keeping your kids involved in sports, art classes, music lessons, or clubs are all vital to their development and easily accessible in the city. Tallahassee is also known for having one of the highest concentrations of top-ranked public schools in Florida. This will help set your kids up for their future no matter what they want to do. And if college is in their plans, they’ve got two universities and a community college, which was just ranked number 1 in the nation for Associate Degrees, to choose between.

All of these amenities packed into one city may sound too good to be true, but the residents of Tallahassee would disagree. You’ll also find that the cost of living is lower, for 2 adults and a child with only one adult working, you’ll need an average of $57,000 a year for life in Florida’s capital city.

If you’re ready to make the move and see for yourself why Tallahassee is one of the best cities to raise a family, find more resources here: https://choosetallahassee.com/live/

Washington D.C.

The City of D.C.

If you’re looking to immerse your family in a city full of history, politics, and architecture, D.C. may be exactly what you’re looking for. There are over 70 unique museums in D.C. many of which are free to the public. There are also libraries, archives, and national monuments scattered throughout the city that make for the perfect family outings. With easy access to public transportation, many of the 700,000 residents choose a car-free lifestyle, which means no one has to fight over the front seat in the car. The metro, city bikes, extensive walkways, and taxis can get you anywhere you need to go.

D.C. has plenty of landscaping and greenery, and it’s just a few hours away from beaches or mountains. This means your whole family can enjoy a weekend vacation, National Lampoon-style!

While D.C.’s public schools are good, their high schools specifically are ranked number 12 in the nation for college readiness. This means if college is in your child’s plan, D.C. schools can help them gain the knowledge they need to succeed. Especially if they’re interested in a future in politics, government, or museum studies.

When it comes to crime, D.C. is above the national average, but that might not be the only factor keeping you from moving to the city. The average cost of living in D.C. for two adults and one child with one adult working is over $71,000 annually. Like every other city, there are pros and cons that come with moving. 

If you’re ready to live in the nation’s capital, find more resources here: https://www.newhomesource.com/learn/dc-relocation-guide/

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Since Huntsville’s downtown underwent new construction just a few years ago, there are more options for shopping, dining, and living in the heart of the city than ever before. This once sleepy farm town now has over 457,000 residents and a lower cost of living than most large cities. 

The Space Race of the 1960s put Huntsville on the map and is still ingrained in the culture of the community. Not only does a large portion of the metro population work in engineering for NASA and the U.S. Army, but there are several historic space-related activities anyone in the family can partake in. Whether you’re looking to tour the U.S. Space & Rocket Center or send your kid to Space Camp, Huntsville has options for you.

Huntsville also has a minor league baseball team that you’re not going to want to miss. The whole family can enjoy an afternoon at the ball game cheering on the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Now, who wouldn’t want that team name on a shirt?

Since you’ll be enjoying warm weather most of the year, you can take advantage of the outdoor concert, events, and food truck rallies hosted in the downtown area. You can also take to nature for hiking, mountain biking, boating, and other water sports prominent in the area.

While living in any city comes with crime, you’ll be happy to know that Huntsville’s crime was less than the national average and the city has a lower crime rate than similarly sized metro areas. It also has a variety of public and private schools ready to help your students from their elementary to high school years. With an overall 18:1 student-teacher ratio, you can rest assured knowing your child will be getting the attention they need to succeed.

That’s not all, on average, for two adults and a child with only one adult working, you’d need just under $55,000 a year to cover expenses. This means you’ll be able to splurge on those extra Rocket City Trash Panda jerseys.

If you’re ready to make the move and raise your family in Huntsville, you can find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/alabama/huntsville

Seattle, Washington

The city of Seattle, Washington

If you’re looking to escape the oppressive heat and take holiday photos in matching family sweaters, Seattle may be the capital city for you. With moderate temperatures, it doesn’t get too cold or too hot in Seattle and you’ll enjoy an average of 201 overcast days each year! Between the cool weather, outdoor activities, and natural landscape of Washington, your family may be spending a lot of time outside, just like the other 724,000 residents. 

While members of your family may be working and going to school in the city, the mountains in the distance will be calling your name. If you’re looking to fill your family’s weekends with waterfalls, hiking, and lakes you won’t have to venture far to find it. 

When you’re not enjoying nature, the city has plenty of entertainment for all ages. Fresh seafood is just one of the staples of local cuisine. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars with unique menu options and themes residents just can’t get enough of. And If you’re ready for live music, you won’t be disappointed. It’s one of the main touring locations in the Pacific Northwest. This means no matter whose favorite band is playing, they’re most likely making a stop in Seattle.

Most residents rent their homes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean apartment-style living. Plenty of residents commute to work every day. No matter where you live in the city, the public schools in Seattle are highly rated. Be sure to research neighborhoods,  since crime rates in Seattle are higher than the national average across the board.

The cost of living has shot up in Seattle in recent years, although compared to places like New York and LA, residents will find Seattle to be slightly less expensive. On average, for two adults and a child with only one adult working, you’d need over $67,000 a year to cover basic expenses.

If you’re ready to make the move and raise your family in Seattle, you can find more resources here: https://www.seattlecu.com/blog/an-insiders-guide-to-moving-to-seattle

Irvine, California

Irvine, California

With a top-notch public school system and a low crime rate, Irvine is a popular California city for families. With over 270,000 residents, your family will enjoy an urban and suburban mix, giving you some of the luxuries of a larger city without the hassles that typically come with them.

You’ll enjoy plenty of local restaurants, coffee shops, and parks throughout the city. With mountains in the distance, you’re only a short drive from hiking trails and outdoor activities which you can enjoy nearly year-round with California’s warm weather. But for days you’d prefer to stay indoors, there are also art and children’s museums, theatre performances, and even indoor go-kart racing.

The job market in Irvine is filled with high-paying jobs, low unemployment rates, and a diverse market. Most residents also have a lower commute time, meaning they can spend more time at home and less time in rush hour. 

Living in the Golden State won’t require a pot of gold, but it does require an annual income of at least $85,000 for two adults and one child, with one adult working. This is nearly double the national average personal annual income, so a high-paying job is a necessity.

If you’re interested in raising your family in Irvine, you can find more resources here: https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/irvine-orange-ca/

Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

As Maine’s largest metro area, Portland is filled with artful living, farm-to-table dining, local entrepreneurs, and unique residential communities for all families. The Portland lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly keeping the over 532,000 current residents happy.

The city is perfect for families that enjoy outdoor adventures like skiing, hiking, fishing, sailing, and even apple picking. The proximity to the water means that fresh seafood is a frequent menu option, and you’re never too far from a lobster roll. The downtown area is also home to many live music events for all ages.

There are less than 90 public and private schools in the area, but the student-to-teacher ratio is 12:1. There is also an incredibly low crime rate in the area, making it a safer city than similarly sized metro areas.

For two adults and one child with one adult working the household would need an annual income of almost $64,000. 

If you’re ready to raise your family in Portland, you can find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/maine/portland

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

If you’re looking for a young, friendly, and diverse community to raise your family in, look no further than Raleigh, North Carolina. With just over 60% of the population under the age of 44 and over 1.9 million residents, it won’t be hard to connect with other young families starting their lives in the city. 

With a large metro area like Raleigh, you’ll find plenty of local restaurants, microbreweries, and community events. There are family-friendly museums, gallery walks, and monthly concerts, or music festivals. One of the advantages of living in a bigger city is there’s always a new event or outing for your family to enjoy.

Living in the city doesn’t mean you have to give up wide open spaces either. There are over 200 parks within driving distance and a 152-mile greenway perfect for biking and hiking. While housing prices are on the rise, lower property taxes will help you secure your family a home to grow in.

There are over 175 public and private options for your children’s education. And out of those schools, 57 high schools in the area have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for being the best in the country. You’ll also experience a lower crime rate in the city than the national average and a lower crime rate than similarly sized metro areas. 

For all of these amenities, you won’t have to break the bank either. For two adults and one child with one adult working, you’ll need to bring in an annual total of around $61,000.

If your family is ready for Raleigh find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/north-carolina/raleigh-durham

Syracuse, New York

Syracuse, New York

It’s no secret that upstate New York is beautiful year-round, and Syracuse may be the perfect upstate city for your family. With an average morning commute of just 21.3 minutes, working parents not only get to enjoy a short scenic drive, they also get to spend more time at home with their family. This added quality time will certainly be valued by your family, along with the other 652,000 residents of the city.

While the snowfall in New York is no joke, averaging more than 120 inches per year, you’ll still be able to take the family on outdoor outings like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. And when you’d rather stay inside, there are plenty of restaurants and shops to check off your city-wide bucket list. There are also learning opportunities for kids of all ages at Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park.

There are just under 80 public and private schools in the city, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 14:1 which is lower than the national average. There are also 7 colleges and universities, so if your child loves the city, they may want to stay close to home after high school. 

The crime rate of the area is also lower than the national average and has been on a downward trend since 2019. In addition to all of the perks we’ve already mentioned, the cost of living in Syracuse is lower than many metro areas. For two adults and one child with one adult working you’d need around $56,500 annually.

If your family is up for the adventure of moving upstate you can find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/new-york/syracuse

Oviedo, Florida

The scenic views of Oviedo, Florida

If you’re looking to stay out of a metro area but still enjoy the amenities, Oviedo may be the best city for you to raise your family in. Just a short drive from Orlando, you’ll be close enough to enjoy big attractions like theme parks, highly rated restaurants, and huge shopping centers. It’s no wonder why over 40,000 people have chosen Oviedo as their hometown.

Oviedo will give your students access to a great public school system that will prepare them for whatever is next in their plan. The lower cost of living and thriving job market will set the whole family up for a successful future. 

Florida’s warm weather will keep you outside almost year-round which is why there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the city. Head to the local farmer’s market, enjoy a city park or tour the city’s historic downtown. While Oviedo is located just outside of Orlando it still has a rural feel. So rural that you can find chickens freely roaming the downtown area.

In addition to the charm of the city, another perk is that Oviedo’s crime rate is also lower than the national average. For two adults and one child with one adult working you’d need just over $60,000 a year, much lower than some larger metro areas.

Ready to make the move to Oviedo for your family? Find more resources here: ​​https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/oviedo-seminole-fl/

Salt Lake City, Utah

The Skyline and Mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah

With a median population age of just 30.5 years old, Salt Lake City is known for being a family-friendly metro area. With a prominent downtown area and up-and-coming local restaurants and coffee shops, Salt Lake City is certainly on the rise. These new developments are sure to make you and your family (along with the nearly 2.5 million residents of the city) happy.

If you’re ready to experience a long-established art scene you’re moving to the right place. Salt Lake City hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival but also has museums, performing art venues, and galleries. But don’t spend all of your time indoors, especially not with five national parks within driving distance from the city!

If you’re looking for a family outing location there are plenty to choose from in and around the city, including the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, the Hogle Zoo, and over 900 acres of public parks. You’ll also get to enjoy family ski trips and the mountain lifestyle in the winter with snowboarding, sledding, and a good old-fashioned snowball fight.

Since the population of the city is larger compared to others on our list, it makes sense that there would be more school choices for your family as well. With over 200 public and private schools and 70 high schools in the area recognized by U.S. News & World Report, your children’s education is secured. Salt Lake City also has a lower crime rate than similarly sized metro areas and it sits below the national average.

For a metro area this size you’d think your budget would need to be sky-high, but for two adults and one child with only one adult working you’d only need around $61,000 a year.

If you’re ready to raise your family in one of the best family-friendly metro areas in America you can find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/utah/salt-lake-city

Madison, Wisconsin

The Madison, Wisconsin sky at sunset

If you’re looking for a city that is known for being down-to-earth but is still modern and thriving, Madison, Wisconsin maybe your new hometown. In the heart of Wisconsin’s Dairyland, you’ll still find award-winning chefs and live music from national and international sensations. With just under 654,000 residents you and your family will be in good company at your next local event.

There is a rich arts and food scene that everyone in the family will enjoy. As well as a County Farmers Market, microbreweries, and outdoor activities. While you’ll have to bundle up to make it through Madison’s winter, you’ll also be able to take the whole family out to the frozen lakes for ice fishing, skating, and hockey. But as soon as the ice melts in the warmer weather the lakes are perfect for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

With over 90 public and private schools to choose from in the city, your kids’ education is in good hands. There’s a 15:1 student-teacher ratio as well, which is lower than the national average. The crime rate in Madison is also lower than the national average, which will help keep you and your family safer in the city. For two adults and a child with only one adult working your family would need just over $60,000 a year.

If you’re ready to head to the capital of America’s Dairyland, find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/wisconsin/madison

Boulder, Colorado

The Mountain Views of Boulder, Colorado

Boulder may be the perfect city for your family. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Plains, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the Rocky Mountains right beyond the city. You can join the other 322,500 residents and spend your weekends among nature hiking, running through nature trails, or cycling.

Enjoying the outdoors is easy in Boulder with Rocky Mountain National Park just an hour away. In the winter you can also enjoy skiing with your family at one of the many famous ski resorts just outside of Boulder. In the warmer months, you can enjoy the Boulder County Farmers Market, shops, and restaurants located downtown. You’ll also be able to immerse your family in a thriving arts community with galleries, museums, and live theater. The city also hosts festivals year-round so your calendar is sure to fill up. 

Your kids will thrive in the Boulder school district with a variety of public and private schools that bring the school district to the top of the US News & World Report College Readiness Index. But all of these amenities come at a steep price. For two adults and one child with one adult working, the minimum income would be just over $70,000 a year.

If you’re ready to make the move to the mountains with your family, find more resources here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/colorado/boulder

Choosing the Perfect City

While we’re partial to Tallahassee, no matter where you decide to raise your family, you can’t go wrong with any city on this list. Weighing the pros and cons may be difficult, but thinking about the lifestyle your family wants to live, the entertainment you want at your fingertips, and your budget can help you decide where you’ll all be the happiest in the long run. We’ve carefully chosen these 12 cities across the United States for you to raise your family and they all offer unique amenities and lively communities. 

If you’re ready to discover why more families choose Tallahassee, you’ll find more resources here: https://choosetallahassee.com/live/

Statistical data used in this post can be found at https://livingwage.mit.edu/