You want the best for your family. You want your kids to grow up in a place that feels safe, happy, and well, like home.
And in order to give your kids (or future kids) all the fond memories and nostalgia — yes, even including those angsty teenage years — you’ll want to make sure you settle down in a city that offers the very best.
There’s certainly a lot to consider before you start putting down roots. Where are the best schools? What is the crime rate? How expensive is the cost of living?
You’ll also want to take into consideration how healthy the city is, how many parks and trails, the culture of the community, and of course, the weather. Truly, ask yourself the tough questions — how much frigid snow or hot humidity are you actually willing to tolerate?
So whether you’re looking for that big city vibe or for a small town everybody-knows-your-name feel, there is a city that is perfect for you and your family’s style.
And to help you narrow down your decision, here are seven of the best and most affordable places to raise a family.
7 of the Best and Most Affordable Places to Raise a Family
1. Fort Collins, CO
You won’t have a lack of stunning, picturesque vistas when you’re in Fort Collins. Right in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is an outdoor enthusiasts dream with a sprawling 40,000 acres of nature to wander through.
You’ll be able to take your kids and explore over 600 acres of parks, 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, or stay in town and visit museums or the arts center.
Fort Collins is also home to award winning schools as well as tech companies like Hewlett Packard and Intel providing great employment opportunities for residents.
2. Fayetteville, AR
If you’re looking for charm, look no further than Fayetteville, Arkansas. Ranked on multiple “top ten” lists of the best places to raise a family, it’s easy to see why Fayetteville consistently makes the list.
Located in northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville is a growing city attracting many families due to its 37 city parks, 84 miles of trails, its close proximity to the Ozark National Forest, the growing arts scene, and a plethora of other natural outdoor spaces for kids and families to enjoy.
Fayetteville gives you a small-town feel even with a metro population at 503,642. This could be due to the picturesque homes or long-standing Fayetteville traditions like the University of Arkansas “Woo Pig Sooie” sporting event.
The city also has a very affordable cost of living falling well below the national average along with progressive policies when it comes to the environment and civil rights issues.
For instance, Fayetteville passed an urban agri-ordinance that allows residents to grow and sell their own food out of their homes, as well as the first place to pass legislation protecting the rights of their LBGTQ community. Fayetteville is truly a welcoming city.
3. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Now, Minnesota may not be top on your list of places to settle down due to the frigid cold and snowy winters. However, if you can find yourself a huge, fluffy coat, the Twin Cities might just be the best place for you to raise a family.
The Twin Cities is one of the most affordable large metros to reside in. With a median income of $55,010 and only 25% spent on housing, the cost of living in Minneapolis and St. Paul is very doable.
The Twin Cities also boasts some of the best parks and biking trails in the nation along with well over 10,000 lakes for you and your family to stroll around. The city is also home to world-renowned theaters, as well as a booming arts and cultural center with museums like Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center.
4. Bozeman, MT
If you love the outdoors and a small-town feel, you’ll want to move your family to Bozeman. Considered a very safe town with a small population of around 50,000, you’ll truly be able to get to know your neighbors and your community in Bozeman.
Bozeman is close to Yellowstone National Park and home to countless other outdoor activities including skiing, fishing, hiking, and whitewater rafting which will be sure to keep you and the family busy on weekends and school breaks.
And along with the beautiful outdoor scenery, Bozeman is also described as tech-savvy, well-educated, and economically thriving, in part, because the town is home to Montana State University. Your kids can expect a great education.
5. Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor was ranked #1 in 2018 as the best place to live. With plenty of job opportunities, stunning parks and green space, along with great schools, including of course, the renowned University of Michigan, it’s no surprise Ann Arbor ranks high on desirable places to live.
Ann Arbor is a close and tight-knit community with 159 parks for the kids to roam in addition to the 120 acre Dexter-Huron Metropark where your family can play disc golf, walk the trails, canoe, and more.
6. State College, PA
Often referred to as the Happy Valley, the small city of State College is home to Penn State University which often plays host to many kid-friendly activities including Big 10 football games and a stunning 395-acre arboretum for the entire family to enjoy.
State College also ranks high in quality of life with affordable housing, great healthcare due to Mount Nittany Medical Center, and a low student-to-teacher ratio guaranteeing your kids have small class sizes and more attention from their teachers.
7. Austin, TX
Perfect for young families just starting out, Austin is an affordable and quickly-growing cultural center with a thriving music and arts scene.
Highlights for family outings include Zilker Park where you can romp on the playground, feed the ducks, and even ride a train, along with Boggy Creek Farm where you and the kids can pick your own vegetables.
The cost of living is low in comparison to other growing metros where you don’t need as high of an income to get by comfortably.
After reading this list, if you think you’ve found the perfect place for you and your family to call home, be sure to connect with a seasoned and local real estate agent who can help you begin the process of starting your exciting new home buying experience.