What makes a neighborhood family-friendly?
Good schools are important, but they are not enough.
Values change as we grow older. When we’re young, we want to live in the vibrant city centers; near friends, bars, public transportation and nightlife. Add a spouse and children to the mix and suddenly we want a safe neighborhood, to own your own place, good schools, other children in the neighborhood, and like-minded neighbors raising kids of their own.
Most of us understand the concept of a family-friendly neighborhood, but how do you quantify this in a location? NeighborhoodScout was able to narrow this down to a unique combination of six elements that, when coexisting in a location, produce a very family friendly locale: excellent public schools, safety from crime, owner-occupied single family homes, other families with children in the neighborhood, and many adults with college degrees or even advanced degrees.
Top-rated schools are key, and they translate to better home values, too
NeighborhoodScout rates public schools based on a combined measure of reading and math proficiency from recent state standardized “No Child Left Behind” tests, and based on our own patented algorithm that scores schools in comparison with schools across state lines. (Previously, schools could only be compared to other schools within the same state.) As a result, only NeighborhoodScout depicts the true educational quality for every public school in the U.S., and every neighborhood in the U.S. as well, on a fully comparable basis. That is, we score the neighborhood’s school quality, not just the quality of individual schools. A NeighborhoodScout first!
As parents, we want the best possible education for our children. We also want other parents to be as engaged in their children’s education as we are. Kids need academic support at home just as much as schools need the resources and involvement from parents in the community. When families and schools work together to create a successful educational environment, neighborhoods maintain the desirable factors that help to keep your home investment from sinking under water. In fact, the majority of the most expensive neighborhoods in the U.S. have top rated public schools.
Low crime is key
Understandably, safety from crime is another desired quality in family-friendly neighborhoods. Of course you want your family to be safe; but as far as property values are concerned – homes in safer neighborhoods are more highly sought after than their less-safe contenders and therefore, better for resale.
Neighborhoods with predominantly owner-occupied, single family homes can also offer families that certain, je ne sais quoi. It may not be readily apparent, but these types of homes, in conjunction with other family-friendly elements coexisting in the same neighborhood, speak to stability and pride of ownership that you rarely see in neighborhoods dominated by renter-occupied homes. Home-owners tend to maintain their properties; they trim the shrubs, pluck the weeds, and keep up with the cosmetic and other repairs that the home requires – for the sake of their own investment. Single family homes also generally offer more yard space for kids to play.
People who own their own homes as a general rule stay longer in the home than renters do. This means that you’ll have a better opportunity to develop friendships with your neighbors. They are the folks next door – your dependable Mr. Feeney (Boy Meets World); your goodhearted Ned Flanders (The Simpsons); your partners-in-crime Fred and Ethel (I Love Lucy). Long-term neighbors like these are there when you need them; always offering an endless supply of milk or sugar, and there to supply your kids with bandages when they scuff up their knees playing road hockey. Neighborhoods with predominately owner-occupied homes are one important ingredient in a family-friendly environment. But by themselves, they are not enough.
Flock of children, Smart parents
NeighborhoodScout’s Family-Friendly friendly search will also find the neighborhoods that have large concentrations of other family households with school-aged children. Your kids will have plenty of playmates here, and you will have plenty of other parents to mingle with at the playground. Thanks to our unique, Family-Friendly algorithm, the other adults in the neighborhood are also more likely to have college degrees or even advanced degrees. So, when you feel drained from all the toys and cartoons, you’ll be able to surround yourself with other educated adults that can provide you with the social and intellectual stimulation you crave.
Everyone wants the best for their kids, and it’s our duty to seek out environments that enhance the family life rather than diminish it. NeighborhoodScout dissected the term “family-friendly” down to thousands of data points for every neighborhood in the U.S. All you have to do is choose your price range, location and setting and begin scouting for the perfect area for your family’s new home.
Those unique places that combine all of these ingredients tend be the most family-friendly. This is NeighborhoodScout’s proprietary family-friendly neighborhood search.