The 100 best places to raise a family

Television executives seized the idea long ago: American families value where they plant their roots. The Cosbys had Brooklyn. The Cunninghams, Milwaukee. The Simpsons, Springfield. But fathers face reality when they're not in prime time. They want to raise their children somewhere safe, where they can attend good schools with favorable student-teacher ratios, above-average test scores and respectable budgets. Plenty of museums, parks and pediatricians also contribute to a good quality of life, whereas multihour commutes, expensive houses and divorcing friends and neighbors do not. Best Life editors used these categories and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the FBI, the American Association of Museums, the National Center for Health Statistics and the American Bar Association to evaluate 257 cities. Here are the best — and worst — places to raise a family.

1 Honolulu, HawaiiSchools spend almost $9,000 per pupil, unemployment ranks less than half the national average, and you can play on the island of O'ahu's 125 beaches.
2 Virginia Beach, Virginia
3 Billings, Montana
4 Columbus, Georgia
5 San Diego, California
6 Des Moines, Iowa
7 Minneapolis, Minnesota
8 Madison, Wisconsin — Madison has a high number of pediatricians per capita.
9 Colorado Springs, Colorado
10 Santa Rosa, California
11 Wichita, Kansas
12 Los Angeles, California
13 Corona, California
14 Austin, Texas
15 Stamford, Connecticut
16 Omaha, Nebraska
17 Naperville, Illinois
18 Fort Wayne, Indiana
19 Springfield, Illinois
20 Boise, Idaho
21 Manchester, New Hampshire
22 South Bay Area, California
23 New York, New York
24 Fontana, California
25 Louisville, Kentucky
26 Plano, Texas
27 Oceanside, California
28 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
29 Sacramento, California
30 Ann Arbor, Michigan
31 Reno, Nevada
32 Las Vegas, Nevada
33 Lincoln, Nebraska
34 San Bernardino, California
35 Grand Rapids, Michigan
36 Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina — Median value of a home: $202,733
37 Kansas City, Kansas
38 Fremont, California
39 Buffalo, New York
40 Berkeley, California
41 Cambridge, Massachusetts
42 Kansas City, Missouri
43 Waterbury, Connecticut
44 Syracuse, New York
45 Phoenix, Arizona
46 Albuquerque, New Mexico
47 Akron, Ohio
48 Boston, Massachusetts
49 Escondido, California
50 Fairfield, California


51 Antioch, California
52 Elgin, Illinois
53 Rochester, New York
54 Seattle, Washington — Residents spend $266 per person annually to maintain the city's parks.
55 Tucson, Arizona
56 Santa Clarita, California
57 Denver, Colorado
58 Indianapolis, Indiana
59 Glendale, Arizona
60 Chicago, Illinois
61 Atlanta, Georgia
62 San Antonio, Texas
63 Mobile, Alabama
64 Concord, California
65 Denton, Texas
66 Coral Springs, Florida
67 San Francisco, California
68 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
69 El Paso, Texas — Classrooms average fewer than 16 students for every teacher.
70 San Buenaventura, California
71 Worcester, Massachusetts
72 Baltimore, Maryland
73 Richmond, California
74 Lowell, Massachusetts
75 Portland, Oregon
76 Jacksonville, Florida
77 Fort Collins, Colorado
78 Orlando, Florida
79 Modesto, California
80 Montgomery, Alabama
81 Tampa, Florida
82 Salinas, California
83 Newport News, Virginia
84 Oakland, California
85 Augusta, Georgia
86 Fort Worth, Texas
87 Washington, D.C.
88 Tulsa, Oklahoma — Residents spend just 17 minutes commuting to work.
89 Bellevue, Washington
90 Cincinnati, Ohio
91 McKinney, Texas
92 St. Louis, Missouri
93 Hayward, California
94 Midland, Texas
95 Sterling Heights, Michigan
96 Greensboro, North Carolina
97 Arlington, Texas
98 Alexandria, Virginia
99 Winston-Salem, North Carolina
100 Lexington, Kentucky

The 10 Worst Places to Raise a Family (from best to worst)

10 Springfield, Missouri
9 Dayton, Ohio
8 Corpus Christi, Texas
7 Flint, Michigan — Country's highest violent-crime rate
6 Columbia, South Carolina
5 Waco, Texas
4 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3 Fayetteville, North Carolina
2 Beaumont, Texas — Long-standing air-quality challenges
1 Clarksville, Tennessee — Low educational spending: $6,729 per student

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