The 25 Best Cities to Raise Children

Fort Wayne post card. The city ranked number one on the 25 best cities to raise children.
Image: Flickr

Of the largest U.S. cities, the 25 best cities to raise children are considered sound financial choices for families. Spoiler alert: The top cities in the list are not found on either coast.

There are a lot of lists out there that dive into great aspects of cities and then rank them based on their findings. The PennyHoarder looked at affordable American cities that are awesome and what makes them so. Others look at safety, diversity, environmental health, amenities and other factors to develop their best cities lists. Smart Asset looked at the day-to-day of what families and their communities have to pay in 86 of the largest U.S. cities. Its list of the 25 best cities to raise children is based on helping people choose a city as a sound financial decision for their families.

What makes a large city a financially sound one for those raising children?

Smart Asset looked at the following eight factors to create their rating scale:

  • High school graduation rates
  • Percentage of students proficient in math and reading
  • Percentage of the population in each city who are under the age of 20
  • Percentage of people in each city who are living below the poverty level
  • Unemployment rate
  • Crime rate per 100,000 residents
  • Annual cost of child care for an infant
  • Housing costs as a percentage of income

“It’s common nowadays for both parents to work outside of the home, meaning they need to pay for full-time child care, which can be very costly. Parents also want to give their children the best chance to succeed, so school quality is on many parents’ minds when deciding where to live,” wrote Derek Miller, CEPF.

The 25 best cities to raise children are:

  1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  2. Lincoln, Nebraska
  3. Fort Worth, Texas
  4. Arlington, Texas
  5. Boise, Idaho
  6. Omaha, Nebraska
  7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  8. El Paso, Texas
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Corpus Christi, Texas
  11. San Antonio, Texas
  12. Arlington, Virginia
  13. Wichita, Kansas
  14. Dallas, Texas
  15. Laredo, Texas
  16. Lubbock, Texas
  17. Mesa, Arizona
  18. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  19. Houston, Texas
  20. San Jose, California
  21. Anchorage, Alaska
  22. Raleigh, North Carolina
  23. Lexington, Kentucky
  24. Kansas City, Missouri
  25. Nashville, Tennessee

Access the original story and methodology on

Explore other city lists on EfficientGov:

Top 10 Most Successful Cities by the Numbers

The 30 ‘Coolest’ Small Cities

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EfficientGov Staff

EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.