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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