Iowa and Utah rank among the top places to raise families, according to a SmartAsset report.
Not all cities are created equal.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61% of two-parent households have both parents working outside the home. And some places are much better equipped to foster financially stable families than others.
Using data on nine metrics, SmartAsset set out to find the best cities for working parents. And after crunching information on unemployment rates, median household incomes, median housing costs, percent of the workforce who work more than 49 weeks per year, average commute time, graduation rate, state family leave policies and costs of childcare, it turns out that the cities in the middle of the country seem to fare the best for families.
“Our top 10 cities provide strong job opportunities for working parents while also being attractive places to raise children and maximize family time,” AJ Smith, VP of financial education at SmartAsset, tells Moneyish. “In particular, these cities have low unemployment rates, high graduation rates and short commute times.”
Most of the top-ranking cities have low housing costs and low childcare costs, which can help working parents stretch their hard-earned dollars even further. Smith points out that although housing costs are not low in eighth-place Santa Clara (where the average home costs over $27.5K per year), a high median household income of $110,110 offsets the expensive housing. Additionally, by living in California, Santa Clara residents have access to some of the most family-friendly state policies in the country.
These are the best cities for working parents:
Ames moved up to the number one spot from second place last year due to its impressively low rate of unemployment. With only 44% of workers working more than 49 weeks per year, parents have more freedom to spend time with their kids and take vacations.
Moving up from the fifth spot last year, Provo is the third safest place to raise a family according to SmartAsset’s data. In Provo, the average family spends just 21.5% of their income on housing costs; that is significantly less than other cities across the nation.
Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City beats Ames when it comes to local school quality with graduation rates of 92.4%. The unemployment rate is only 2.1%, and those who are employed take plenty of time off.
Low commute times and low crime rates make Orem a great place for working parents. The average commute time is 18 minutes, which is 85% faster than other cities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of childcare across the nation has increased by 39% over the last decade. In Jonesboro, childcare costs come in at approximately $5,700 annually, making it the 17th-lowest in the country.
Saint George, Utah
The average commute in St. George is under 15 minutes, and high schools in the city have a graduation rate that tops 80% of cities in the study.
Wichita Falls, Texas
The local school system draws many families to Wichita Falls, and the Department of Education data shows that almost 94% of students in the area graduate from high school. And working parents can spend more time with their kids because the average commute time is under 15 minutes.
Santa Clara, California
The city’s proximity to Silicon Valley means high household incomes, but that also translates to high housing costs. California notoriously has some of the most family-friendly state policies in the country, and weather tends to be milder than other cities.
Oshkosh is one of the best places to save money, since the average household could afford the average home while spending less than 20% of their income.
Housing in Abilene is affordable with costs running under $9,500 a year, and the city’s high school graduation rate is over 90%. The reason for the number 10 slot: Texas ranks below average when it comes to state family leave laws.
But East Coast cities scored poorly in this study, because residents in these cities (especially in the Northeast) face high costs of living, including childcare and housing expenses. With not a single east coast state making the list, and many cities and states left off the list completely, Smith says, “There are many important concerns for working parents, but one of the biggest concerns these days is how much raising a child will cost. The USDA estimates that raising a child born in 2015 would cost a family $233,610 from birth to age 17, and that figure can get even higher in cities where childcare and housing are very expensive. Therefore, it’s important for working parents to consider financial factors like income, housing costs and childcare costs when deciding which cities may be best suited for them.”
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