America is full of family-friendly cities, but in choosing a place to raise kids, parents (or soon-to-be parents) tend to seek out places with low unemployment, low crime rate and good educational opportunities. Based on these criteria, let's take a look at seven of top American cities for raising a family. (Find out three simple questions you should consider when weighing this decision, in Retirement Living: Renting Vs. Home Ownership.)

The list contains a diverse group of cities, with populations ranging from 10,000-375,000, and landscapes ranging from tropical to mountainous. What they all share is relatively low crime rates (presented as a fraction of the national average) and unemployment, as well as relatively low student-to-teacher ratios and high educational spending per pupil.

  1. Burlington, Vermont
    Population: 39,000
    Cost of living index: 1.1
    Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

    Violent crime index: 0.6
    Burlington is located between the Green and Adirondack Mountains on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. The city is home to the University of Vermont and has approximately 39,000 residents.

    Burlington is located in the largest and most diverse school district in Vermont where, on average, each teacher has a master's degree and 15 years of experience. According to the Vermont Department of Education, the student-to-teacher ratio in the state is approximately 11.3 students per teacher. According to a 2001 Census survey, the state spends more than $13,000 per student each year - well above the U.S. national average of $9,666.

    Unemployment in Burlington is also well below the national average, and crime figures, for both violent and property crime, are low too. The cost of living in Burlington is about 13% higher than the national average.

  2. Peachtree City, Georgia
    Population: 34,500
    Cost of living index: 1.04
    Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
    Violent crime index: 0.12

    This city has the lowest crime index of the cities on our list. Violent crime and property crime within the city are 0.12- and 0.22-times the national average, respectively. This small Southern city with a population of under 35,000 also has relatively low unemployment, and although per-student spending is slightly below the national average, Peachtree City students outperform the national average in reading and math by 13.4% and 32.7% respectively, according to Money Magazine. There are about 14 students per teacher in Peachtree City.

  3. Madison, Wisconsin
    Population: 229,000
    Cost of living index: 0.935
    Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
    Violent crime index: 0.6

    In 2006, Money Magazine ranked Madison, Wisconsin, as one of the best places to live. With approximately 228,800 residents, the city was dropped from the list in 2007, when the magazine imposed a limit on population. Madison was also named the "best place for education." The city is home to the University of Wisconsin and the state spends about $10,000 per pupil - slightly above the national average. The student-to-teacher ratio is about 13:1. For a larger city, it's also pretty safe: personal crime risk ranks about 40% below the national average.

  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
    Population: 375,500
    Cost of living index: 1.8
    Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
    Violent crime index: 0.48

    Who wouldn't want to live in Hawaii? Well, aside from its beautiful tropical scenery, Honolulu offers a better-than-average school system and an unemployment rate that's about half the national average. Unfortunately, island living is pricey, and Honolulu's cost of living is about 1.8 times the national average. Population-wise, it's also is the largest city on our list with 375,000 residents. Depending on what you're looking for, the mild weather and tropical island setting could make that higher cost of living worthwhile.

  5. Farmington, Utah
    Population: 14,000
    Cost of living index: 0.87
    Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
    Violent crime index: 0.08

    Located about 16 miles north of Salt Lake City, Farmington is home to Utah's largest family amusement park, Lagoon. Farmington's population has nearly tripled since 1980, but the city has held on to its relatively low cost of living index, 0.87-times the national average, and an extra low crime index of 0.08.

  6. Norfolk, Massachusetts
    Population: 10,600
    Cost of living index: 1.38
    Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
    Violent crime index: 0.05

    Norfolk, Massachusetts has the smallest population on our list, but this rural suburb is just 21 miles outside of Boston. At 1.38 times the national average, the cost of living is a tad on the pricey side, but Norfolk was recently recognized as one of Forbes Magazine's "Best for the Buck" school districts.

  7. Overland Park, Kansas
    Population: 169,400
    Cost of living index: 0.94
    Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
    Violent crime index: 0.67

    Overland Park has been nationally recognized as a great place to live. The city offers a low crime rate, a lower-than-average cost of living and plenty of family-oriented activities and venues, including the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead.

Of course, not every "nice" area is for everyone, and a myriad of other factors have to suit your lifestyle for consideration of a new home to take place. State and municipal laws, population breakdown and climate, among other things, should also be considered, but these seven locations are a great place to start. (Find out how to help the ones you love without hurting yourself, in 8 Ways To Help Family Members In Financial Trouble.)

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Find an Affordable Timeshare on a Retiree's Budget

    Vacations can be expensive, especially on a fixed income. These tips will help you buy a share in a getaway property that's not too pricey.
  2. Retirement

    What to Do When Your Doctor Doesn't Take Medicare

    Stay and pay the full fee? Cut and run to another provider? Five ways to cope when Medicare threatens to break up you and your medico.
  3. Retirement

    4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Costa Rica

    Understand why more and more Americans are deciding to retire in developing countries. Learn about the top five reasons why Americans retire to Costa Rica.
  4. Retirement

    4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Mexico

    Learn why Mexico's low cost of living, inexpensive health care, natural beauty and culture make it such a popular retirement destination for Americans.
  5. Retirement

    The Cities Where the Ultra-Rich Retire in Florida

    Understand why the Florida communities of Miami Beach, Palm Beach and Key West serve as magnets for the ultra-rich retirees who descend on the state.
  6. Professionals

    Is Delaying Social Security Until 70 a Good Idea?

    Soon to be retirees are often told it's best to wait until age 70 to collect Social Security. Here's why this is not always the best advice.
  7. Professionals

    Top Tips for Maximizing Social Security

    Between delaying filing, claiming strategies and taking advantage of special marital benefits, there are several ways to maximize Social Security.
  8. Retirement

    The 5 Best Retirement Communities in Austin, Texas

    Discover five of the most desirable retirement communities for seniors located in the Austin/Georgetown metropolitan area in Texas.
  9. Options & Futures

    Pick 401(k) Assets Like A Pro

    Professionals choose the options available to you in your plan, making your decisions easier.
  10. Investing Basics

    5 Things To Ask Before Hiring A Financial Advisor

    Choosing a financial advisor isn't an easy task. Here's a list of the most important things to consider when planning for your financial future.
  1. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are continuing care retirement communities accredited?

    Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) can be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can my IRA be garnished for child support?

    Though some states protect IRA savings from garnishment of any kind, most states lift this exemption in cases where the account ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are spousal Social Security benefits retroactive?

    Spousal Social Security benefits are retroactive. These benefits are quite complicated, and anyone in this type of situation ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are Social Security payments included in the US GDP calculation?

    Social Security payments are not included in the U.S. definition of the gross domestic product (GDP). Transfer Payments For ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!