Survey ranks the 10 best cities to raise a family in America

Virginia Beach comes in at No. 4

5/21/2013, 1:51 p.m.
An abundance of new mothers and fathers frequenting the Movoto real estate blog in recent moths was the inspiration for ...
Virginia Beach was ranked as the 4th best place to live.

An abundance of new mothers and fathers frequenting the Movoto real estate blog in recent moths was the inspiration for the recent release of the blog's latest unscientific release of the best cities to raise a family.

"This [abundance] started the Movoto bloggers thinking about families and where we’d like to live when we eventually started down that long path known as parenthood," noted noted David Cross, the blog's 'chief content producer'. "Our answers were varied. Some of us wanted to stay put in the Bay Area. Others, fearing Silicon Valley’s absurd housing situation, wanted to move. But to where? That was a conundrum. We put our heads—and math skills—together to find an answer."

What did they find? Based on seven criteria, detailed, Texas has a surprising number of large cities that are great for raising little ones. In fact, three out of 10 cities on the list are in the Lone Star State.

"If there is anything Texas should be proud of, it’s making itself hospitable toward America’s future," noted Cross.

Here's the Movoto list:

  1. Omaha, NE

  2. Oklahoma City, OK

  3. El Paso, TX

  4. Virginia Beach, VA

  5. Albuquerque, NM

  6. Kansas City, MO

  7. Colorado Springs, CO

  8. Austin, TX

  9. Raleigh, NC

  10. San Antonio, TX

How was it done?

To come up with the list of the 10 best cities for families, Movoto surveyed the 50 most populous cities in the country based on seven criteria. They ranked each city from 1 to 50 for each criterion, with 1 being the best score. We then took the average rank across the criteria. The city with the lowest average score—in this case Omaha, NE—was crowned the winner. The criteria surveyed were: Cost of living, public schools rank, park space, home ownership, crimes per capita, unemployment, and commute time.

Cost of living

Kids are expensive. According to the Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, it costs $235,000 to raise a child for 17 years. That’s a lot of greenbacks. For this category, Movoto looked at Sperling’s Best Places, a website that, among other things, calculates the cost of living in a city. The website starts with the national average cost of living, marked by 100, and then compares cities to it. In this case, the lower the number, the cheaper the living. Memphis, TN had the lowest cost with a rank of 75. Conversely, the Movoto bloggers’s home of San Francisco, CA was the most expensive with a score of 199. We cried a little bit when we found that out.

School rank

Recongizing that most parents everywhere are probably big proponents of education, for this category, Movoto used Greatschools.org to rank each city. This not-for-profit website ranks public school systems from 1 to 10, with the higher the number the better. According to its data, Mesa, AZ public schools are No. 1 with a score of 7. Memphis, TN and Detroit, MI were tied for last; each had an underwhelming score of 2.

Parks per person

According to Movoto, "kids cost a ton. Add more than one and any hobbies you or your significant other have could go flying out the window. Because of this, the blog looked at the number of park acres per person. "It’s important to have a place to go that is both cheap and fun. Not only that, we’re betting those rugrats will have some extracurricular activities that will take place in these green spaces," they noted. When all was said ad done, Virginia Beach in Virginia's Eastern Shore, took home the top score in this category.