The best small cities to raise a family
Raising a family in a small city can be an enriching experience. Small cities come without much of the hustle and bustle of larger cities or the sky-high costs of living. Plus, many small cities still offer access to employment opportunities and can offer residents a sense of community. Below we rank the best small cities to raise a family.
Looking to buy a home? Check out current mortgage rates.
In order to find the best small cities to raise a family, we looked at data on nine factors. We analyzed data on income, childcare costs, high school graduation rates, violent and property crime rates, the number of child care facilities, unemployment rates, housing costs, family poverty rates and the percent of residents age 20 and under. For details on the methodology, see the data and methodology section below.
- Show Me State scores well – Missouri has three cities in our top 10. Lee’s Summit came in second, while O’Fallon and St. Charles took third and 10th, respectively. These cities offer good employment opportunities and are relatively affordable. In particular Missouri cities scored well when it comes to childcare costs.
- Raising a family is costly – If you do want to raise your family in the best environment, it’ll probably cost you. Across our top 10, the average home costs over $1,488 per month. Once you add full-time childcare, which can run anywhere from $6,000 to $13,000 per year, depending on where you live, you’re looking at a large hole in your budget.
- Choose carefully in the Sunshine State – Florida has the four lowest-ranked small cities to raise a family. These include Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lauderhill and Fort Myers. These cities tend to have an older population and have low high school graduation rates. However, there are many other good places to raise a family in Florida.
Data and Methodology
In order to find the best small cities to raise a family, we looked at data for 210 cities which had a population between 65,000 and 100,000. Specifically, we looked at data on the following nine metrics.
- Percent of residents under the age of 20. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Family poverty rate. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Median housing costs. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Unemployment rate. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Childcare facility density. This is the number of child care service establishments as a percent of total establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Property crime rate. This is the property crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2015 Universal Crime Reporting Database.
- Violent crime rate. This is the property crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2015 Universal Crime Reporting Database.
- High school graduation rate. Data is for the 2014-2015 school year and comes from the U.S. Bureau of Education.
- Childcare costs. This is the average annual cost of full-time family childcare for an infant. 2015 data comes from Child Care Aware and is measured at the state level.
- Median household income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-Year American Community Survey.
We ranked each city in each metric. Then we found the average ranking for each city. We gave each metric a full weight except property crime rate and violent crime rate, which we gave a half weighting. We used this average ranking to create our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a 100 and the city with the worst average ranking received a 0.
Tips for When You Can’t Afford Your Mortgage Payments
Sometimes, due to a loss of income or unexpected costs, mortgages can become unaffordable. Here are some tips to make the most out of a bad situation.
The first thing you will want to do if you are struggling to make your monthly payments is to ask your lender for a loan modification. There is a chance they will lower your interest rate or forgive a portion of the principle. The objective is to make the monthly payments mortgage low enough so that you can still pay.
Another option might be to try and refinance to a longer mortgage or to a lower mortgage rate. By extending the length of the loan, you pay more overall in interest but less on each monthly payment, making each payment more affordable. If your credit score has improved significantly since you first got your mortgage, you may be able to refinance to a lower interest rate. This will help you save in the short run as well as in the long run.
You may also qualify for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which is a federal program meant to help struggling homeowners during the financial crisis. However not everyone who is struggling to make payments is eligible. The benefit of the loan modification is that you keep your home and your credit score does not suffer.
A final option is a short sale. In a short sale, the homeowner sells the home for less than its market value in attempt to sell it faster. The mortgage lender will take a loss but will avoid the hassle of foreclosure. This however can be a complicated process and can ding your credit score.