10 of the Best Cities to Raise a Family

Peter Chambers

Nov 9, 2023

best cities to raise a family

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The best cities have quality school districts, strong communities, low crime rates and a reasonable cost of living. Whether you want to move to a sunny paradise or a forest-covered retreat, this list has everything. Without further ado, here are the best cities to raise a family in the United States.

1. Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland has it all — shopping centers, nature preserves, amphitheaters and public lakes. Whether you want to take your family to free exercise classes at Color Burst Park or live music at Merriweather Post Pavilion, there are plenty of activities to fill weekends and summer vacations.

According to one ranking, Columbia is the sixth most desirable city in the United States. After all, this community focuses on physical well-being, quality of life and social fulfillment. If you’re looking for a supportive community to raise your family in, this is your best option.

Most importantly, Columbia is the number one safest city in the entire country. It’s won this title five years running, so you know it has to be true. Crime, natural disasters and financial issues are at an all-time low in this small haven. 

In September 2023, a single-family home cost $473,000 on average — up from $381,000 at the same time in 2020. Considering how many desirable qualities this city has, its relatively low cost of living makes it one of the best cities to raise a family.

2. Lincoln, Nebraska

As the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln is the beating heart of this midwestern state. It has shopping, sports centers, historic attractions and mom-and-pop shops galore. Best of all, it’s home to a tight-knit community.

Lincoln has consistently grown safer for decades. In fact, it has experienced a 53% decrease in violent crimes since the 1990s. Since the 2010s, home burglaries have dropped by 31% and overall theft is down by 10%. 

This state has a notoriously affordable real estate market, especially if you live on the edges of cities or in more remote areas. In 2023, a single-family home in Nebraska cost a little over $250,000 on average.

3. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge is a historic haven full of museums, bookstores and vintage shops. Still, it’s overflowing with modern attractions like bars, cafes, art venues and ethnic restaurants. Its mix of timeless and contemporary places of interest makes it one of the best cities to raise a family. 

What’s more, Cambridge has a top-rated public school district. The student-teacher ratio is nine to one, so your children will receive quality care and attention. Since this city is also home to prestigious universities like Harvard, you can guarantee they get top-tier education from start to finish.

In 2023, a single-family home in Cambridge cost slightly over $980,000 on average. The entry price is on the higher end, but it’s been a seller’s market these past few years. Besides, the investment is well worth it, considering how high-quality this city is.

4. Irvine, California

Irvine is home to stretches of palm trees and parks. There are plenty of things in this city that’ll keep you and your children busy. For instance, you can take your family on a day out to the sandy shores of Crystal Cove State Park or the Pretend City Children’s Museum.

Most importantly, Irvine is one of the safest places you and your family can live. Per capita, it has the lowest violent crime rate in the entire country. In fact, it’s been ranked the safest city of its size for seventeen years running.

Irvine is full of tourist attractions, job opportunities and sunshine — meaning it’s on the pricier end. The average single-family home cost over $1.3 million in 2023. Its cost of living is higher than many other cities, but Irvine is still one of the best cities to raise a family. 

5. Seattle, Washington

This metropolitan area is the perfect combination of historical authenticity and modern art — something you won’t find anywhere else. You can take your family to museums, shop at local markets and hike in forest-covered mountains. It’s also home to wonders like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

Not to worry, its attractions are just the beginning — Seattle has a fantastic education sector. In fact, it’s the ninth most educated city in the entire United States. Wherever you enroll your children, you know they’ll get a quality education.

In 2023, a single-family home in Seattle cost $799,000 on average. It might seem high, but it’s well worth the money. While Washington is generally peaceful, cozy and drizzly, Seattle is bustling and lively — you get the best of both worlds. Really, it’s among the best cities to raise a family in the entire country.

6. Albany, New York

As the capital of New York, Albany is absolutely rich with historical and artistic influences. It has a relatively tight-knit community, beautiful scenery and plenty of attractions. Plus, it’s near some of the most famous destinations in the country.

Albany is the best city to live in New York. In fact, it scored 7 out of 10 for quality of life and 6.8 out of 10 for value. According to rankings, it’s one of the best cities to raise a family.

This city’s general cost of living is 25% cheaper than New York City. What’s more, rent is nearly 60% less expensive here than in New York City. Essentially, you get the state’s beauty without the infamous high prices — what’s not to love?

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

A bunch of things make Raleigh one of the best cities to raise a family. For one, its cost of living is low. In fact, its median grocery costs were 12% below the national average in 2023. Health care and childcare are generally more affordable, too.

Raleigh is also incredibly secure. It experienced an almost 5% decrease in crimes against persons since 2018. More impressively, the number of property crimes dropped by 54% in the same period. You can sleep soundly at night knowing your home and family are safe.

8. Norman, Oklahoma 

Norman, Oklahoma is among the best cities to raise a family because it’s scenic, peaceful and affordable — it’s the kind of place you move to if you love Autumn leaves, stellar sunsets and lake living. Plus, it’s home to some of the best museums and parks.

In 2023, a single-family home in Oklahoma cost around $151,000 on average. While the cost of living is low, the quality of life is high. Moving to this city is a fantastic idea if you want somewhere peaceful to raise your family. 

9. Berkeley, California

Berkeley is a safe, sunny paradise. While there’s lots to do downtown, there are also plenty of peaceful spots where you can take in the scenery. Frankly, it’s one of the best places to live in all of California.

This city’s education sector has a fantastic track record. In fact, 95% of Berkeley students are proficient in reading and 75% are proficient in math. Wherever you send your kids to school, you can be sure they receive quality instruction.

In Berkeley, the average single-family home was a little over $1 million in September 2023. While it has one of the highest entry barriers on this list, it remains one of the best cities to raise a family. Frankly, its top-tier education, beautiful scenery and high quality of life are almost unmatched.

10. Joliet, Illinois

Joliet is a small, bustling city in Illinois. While the weather is usually mild, winters can get chilly. There are loads of attractions rich with cultural significance and fun activities, so your family will never have a dull weekend. 

Since Joliet is the eighth safest city in the entire United States, you can have peace of mind when you take your family out on a late-night walk or forget to lock your front door. Also, there are plenty of high-quality schools in the district, which is always a plus.

Pick from the Best Cities to Raise a Family

These cities are some of the safest, most educated and most well-rounded cities in the entire country. If you want to move to a place where your family can thrive, these should be some of your top picks.

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