Everyone has their own ideal for how they want their kids to grow up. For some, it’s playing in a sprawling backyard. For others, it’s having museums and theaters a stone’s throw away.
But there are a few things that most parents can agree are important to the formative childhood years: good schools, low crime and access to child care.
Those are some of the factors Niche.com took into account to compile its ranking of the best cities, towns and suburbs to raise a family. Unsurprisingly, many wealthy East and West Coast locales top the list—but some surprises like Brandon, S.D., hold their own in top spots.
Education and crime rates were the most heavily weighted factors, comprising 20% of each location’s overall score. Access to libraries, day cares and grocery stores also factored into each location’s score, as did age demographics and the availability of affordable housing.
Rankings were then determined in three categories: cities with more than 100,000 people; suburbs that aren’t considered principal cities; and towns with fewer than 100,000 people.
The Best of the Best Locations
When it comes to the best cities to raise a family, Plano, Texas, won the top spot, followed by Santa Clara, Calif.; Naperville, Ill.; Round Rock, Texas; Carlsbad, Calif.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Bellevue, Wash.; Torrance, Calif.; Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and Richardson, Texas.
California—home to 12% of the nation’s population—had a strong showing across all location sizes, making a name for itself by claiming 10 of the top 20 best cities and another six of the 20 best towns.
The East Coast takes the lead among the best suburbs to raise a family, especially in the New York area. Indeed, Scarsdale, N.Y., took number one, followed by Narbeth, Pa.; Upper Uwchlan Township, Pa.; Great Neck Estates, N.Y.; Bronxville, N.Y.; Rollingwood, Texas; Pennington, New Jersey; Sands Point, New York; Larchmont, New York; and Franklin Park, Pa.
The best towns showed the most variety among its top locations, with representatives from both coasts as well as the Midwest. In fact, Carmel, Ind., was No. 1, followed by San Ramon, Calif.; Redmond, Wash.; Snoqualmie, Wash.; Cupertino, Calif.; Brandon, S.D.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Newton, Mass.; Mountain View, Calif.; and Pleasanton, Calif.
Are you thinking of making the move to a more family-friendly neighborhood? Take a moment to consider these top housing markets to find your new humble abode.