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NeighborhoodScout Special Report: America’s 10 Best Towns for Families with Children

May 18, 2005 | by: The NeighborhoodScout Team | Media

Schools are important, but other criteria must also come into play.


Paul Gallagher
Director of Marketing
Location, Inc.

WOONSOCKET, RI (May 18, 2005) – Location is always important when buying a house, but most people consider it crucial when choosing a home and community for their family and children. And while everyone concurs that quality public schools are an important consideration, schools are only one of six criteria that many parents and demographers agree are key in determining the best towns for families with children.

Dr. Andrew Schiller, a specialist in American demographics and the creator of the NeighborhoodScout® search engine for homebuyers, used NeighborhoodScout to analyze government data to identify the communities that have the best overall combination of attributes parents and researchers repeatedly cite as important in defining the best places for families with children.

His work has produced a list of the top choices and best value towns for families in each of America’s ten largest metropolitan areas.

Combining data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department, and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, and analyzing every town in these large metropolitan areas using NeighborhoodScout, Schiller has been able to reveal some intriguing results. “We were looking for those very select communities that have both top-quality public schools and an exceptionally family-friendly environment, not towns that may excel at one or two criteria but are lacking in other ways,” says Schiller. For this research, the criteria used included quality public schools, safety from crime, a high proportion of families with children in the community, many adults with college degrees or even advanced degrees, many families who own their homes, and homes that are predominantly single-family residences, regardless of the setting being urban, suburban, or rural. Median house values were also included to find the family-friendly towns that qualify as best values for the money in each metropolitan area.

Why these criteria? “Homeownership is important because research has shown that it helps keep crime lower, and represents an investment in the location by those living there,” says Schiller. High educational attainment by adults in the community is a good indicator that the populace places a high degree of importance on education, and is well equipped to make key decisions about the future of the community. Many families with children in the town signifies that other families have selected the town as a good place to raise their children, and helps to promote a family-friendly environment with good social networks for both children and their parents. “Many parents, regardless of the type of dwelling they live in, state that they prefer a single-family home for raising their children, replete with space to play indoors and out, and so this research included the predominance of single-family homes as one of its measures,” says Schiller. Both demographers and parents agree that safety from crime is important for raising children.

Here are NeighborhoodScout’s top choice and best value towns for families with children in America’s 10 largest metro areas (by metro area from east to west):

Metro Region Top Choice Best Value for the Money
Boston Sudbury, MA Holden, MA
New York Manhasset, NY Andover, NJ
Philadelphia Richboro, PA Downingtown, PA
Washington, D.C. Potomac, MD Columbia, MD
Detroit Bloomfield Hills, MI Troy, MI
Chicago Lake Forest, IL Wheeling, IL
Dallas- Fort Worth Highland Park, TX Richardson, TX
Houston Sugar Land, TX Stafford, TX
San Francisco Los Altos, CA Suisun City, CA
Los Angeles Moorpark, CA Simi Valley, CA

All the towns are within 40 miles of the center city.

“This special search profile for finding the best places for families with children has been built into a simple-to-use search function at NeighborhoodScout.com,” says Schiller. “Readers can visit NeighborhoodScout.com to find the specific neighborhoods that are best for families with children in their area, and can customize the search not only to their particular area, but to their price range and preferred setting as well.” Conducting searches for the best towns for families with children on NeighborhoodScout is free. Some data details require a subscription for access.

Editor’s Note

“Educated neighbors” means people 25 and older with college degrees or graduate degrees. “Excellent public schools” means combined measures of spending per pupil on core instruction, lower student-to-teacher ratios (smaller classes and more personal attention to students), and higher graduation rates. “Crime” is all FBI crime index scores – both violent and property – as a rate per 1,000 population for the community. “Owner-occupied” single-family homes mean the town is primarily composed of detached single-family homes owned by their occupants. Data were queried directly with NeighborhoodScout.

About Location Inc

Location Inc®; is a Rhode Island-based company born of university research, specializing in nationwide relocation software, retail site selection, and real estate investment advising. Andrew Schiller is the founder of the company, a PhD geographer, and a former research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Atomic Energy Complex. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters; the oldest who begins kindergarten in the Fall.