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PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT JONES VIA UNSPLASH

Deciding where to live by yourself is one thing. Choosing a suitable city to raise a family? That’s something else entirely. Families want the best for their kids—the best education, the best attractions, the best access to opportunity. And now, a study by WalletHub has put a numerical value to dozens of cities you may be considering.

WalletHub compared 182 US cities—including the 150 most populated US cities—across five key dimensions: family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics. Each category was then broken into 46 in-depth subcategories, which were coded and given a weight of points, then measured on a 100 point scale.

From the ideal weather in each city to its wealth gap, how many young families occupy the vicinity and even the average commute time, the extensive study took into account virtually all the important factors one would consider when taking on a big move, especially the impact it could have on your children. 

“A child’s development and a family’s quality of life is largely influenced by the city they live in due to environmental factors and social factors,”  said Michelle Bemiller, a professor of sociology at Walsh University, in the study. “Families should consider what cultural and educational opportunities are available for their family as well as community safety. Think about whether the community is a place where you will feel connected to others and be able to grow as a family. These indicators have been used to determine individuals’ overall happiness in relationship to their community.”

Source: WalletHub

Which city was took the honor of best overall community? Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, was named number one overall in WalletHub’s ratings, ranking second (behind Bismark, ND) for the most affordable place to live, and receiving high marks in the education and childcare categories. The idyllic suburb boasts beautiful homes and easy access to the city, making it a surprisingly beneficial place to bring up children and live well without breaking the bank.

But if being landlocked isn’t your thing, California might be your next move as the two next highest ranking cities are situated in the Golden State—despite it being one of the most expensive states to live in terms of housing costs. Irvine, in Orange County, and Fremont, in the Bay Area, nearly tied for second, each stealing top spots in family fun, health and safety, and socioeconomics categories.

New York topped the charts with the most attractions and most playgrounds per capita (necessities when trying to keep active children engaged) but was near last in the housing affordability category (of no surprise to city-dwellers who are forced to live with roommates to keep up with costs)

Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey, rated the worst of the 182 cities, only scoring 37.16 on the 100 point scale.

Bottom line, whether it’s your first home purchase or an investment for you and your family’s future, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to making a big move. From job opportunities to the best housing, even the time it will take to save for that initial down payment, finding a place to live that is both peaceful and prosperous is no small feat. 

See more real estate findings:
The Best Big Cities for Buying Your First Home
Looking to Move? Try These Under-the-Radar Cities
The Best Places to Live in Each State May Surprise You

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