Where to raise their family is one of the most important decisions parents make, and while personal factors, such as the presence of relatives, can be hugely influential, it’s also true that there are some things that are great for every family.
As they are wont to do, experts enlisted by WalletHub — in this case, three Ph.D.’s — sought to evaluate these universal factors using data points culled from reliable sources, each aligned with one of five different equally-weighted categories.
The big winner was Overland Park, Kansas, the second-most populous city in the state. It was ranked 94th out of 182 for family fun but 10th in health and safety, 11th in education and child care, first in affordability, and fifth in socioeconomics.
Fremont, California, came in second with first-place finishes in health and safety and socioeconomics and a second-place ranking in education and child care. Another California city, Irvine; Plano, Texas; and South Burlington, Vermont, rounded out the top five.
What’s important with any study like this is to look at what factors went into these ratings. The family fun category is based on amenities per capita — playgrounds, skate parks, etc. — along with more complicated factors like walkability and average commute time.
The health and safety category takes into account environmental factors, crime stats, homelessness, and access to healthy foods, among others. Educational metrics and the cost and availability of child care were factored into their respective rankings.
Cost of living, housing affordability, and Wallet Wellness (a proprietary measure of personal financial health) go into affordability, while socioeconomics considers things like unemployment, the wealth gap, and foreclosure rate in a given city.
We’re not saying you should up and move to Kansas — or that you shouldn’t! — but this study is a good reminder of what makes some cities better places to raise your kids than others.