Living the (Family) Dream
When you’re just starting out in life, your top priorities when selecting a city to call home might be a good dating scene, an exciting nightlife, or cool music festivals. Or maybe you just end up living in the town where you went to college, or where you landed your first job. But when it comes time to raise a family, other considerations tend to increase in importance, such as education, affordability, average incomes, and the strength of the local job market. So which U.S. cities make the grade for family life? Keep reading to find out.
Thousand Oaks, California
More than a third of households in Thousand Oaks, California have children, and it’s easy to see why the city is so popular among parents. It has an amazing array of lush city parks, so you’re never far from a great playground or picnic spot. There’s also the highly respected school system, with schools ranking in the 90th percentile in the state for graduation rates and educational quality.
If you find yourself in need of big-city excitement, Thousand Oaks is only a short drive from LA. Average annual family income in this city of 127,000 is around $140k, which is a good thing, because real estate here tends to be on the expensive side.
Carmel’s list of local employers is impressive. It includes GEICO, Baldwin & Lyons, Delta Faucet, and CNO Financial Group. In Carmel, Indiana, crime rates are low, incomes are high, and schools are top-notch. Locals love the Arts & Design District, a downtown creative hub that is one of the finest in the Midwest. More than forty percent of households in Carmel have children under the age of 18, so your kids will have lots of opportunities to make new friends.
Carmel’s traffic safety program is another point of pride for the city. By installing roundabouts at busy traffic intersections, the city has managed to reduce the number of accidents by 40%.
Richland, Washington was once a small farming community, but these days, it’s better known as a technological hub. There’s still plenty of pastoral cropland surrounding the community, which makes for an idyllic setting. With more than 300 sunny days per year, local residents have plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors. Favorite pastimes include golf, cycling, and waterskiing on the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. Major employers in the area include the U.S. Department of Energy, Bechtel National Incorporated, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Lockheed Martin.
Omaha boasts a plethora of fun things to do with youngsters, including a world-class zoo, a children’s museum, and a lauded children’s theater. Omaha’s school district counts many of the state’s best schools among its members, including Nebraska’s one and only K-12 International Baccalaureate program. Schools here are also known for their high test scores, excellent music programs, and well-stocked libraries.
Living costs here barely reach 90% of the national average, leaving plenty of disposable income to spend on vacations and other fun stuff. Local employers of note include Union Pacific, native son Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, and Mutual of Omaha.
Overland Park, Kansas
Overland Park may only be 15 minutes from downtown Kansas City, but it feels like a whole world away. The local culture puts a strong emphasis on nurturing and inspiring the citizens of tomorrow, and it shows in the excellent school system, the wealth of fun family attractions, and the ample supply of baseball diamonds, soccer fields, swimming pools, and fishing ponds.
Crime rates here are well below the national average, and while the city offers plenty of luxury homes for the discriminating buyer, the cost of living here is only slightly above the national average, making it affordable to families in lower-income tax brackets, as well.
As American as Apple Pie
As you can see, these five cities have a lot going for them when it comes to raising a family. If you’re considering starting a family or finding a new hometown, why not start by taking a look at some real estate listings in these fine cities?