Special Report

Best Cities for Families

Source: Thinkstock

20. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +7.4%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 285.2
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 46.0%
> Graduation rate: 82.5%

The Twin Cities metro area is now home to over 875,000 families — up 7.4% in the last half decade. Favorable economic conditions make the metro area especially appealing to families. Housing is more affordable in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington than it is nationwide, and only 2.8% of working parents are unemployed, well below the comparable 3.8% share nationwide.

Source: Alexisrael / Wikimedia Commons

19. Kingston, NY
> 5-yr. change in number of families: -1.4%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 169.3
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 51.6%
> Graduation rate: 82.6%

The Kingston school district provides universal preschool for 4-year olds — and partially as a result, the Kingston metro area is one of a minority cities nationwide where more than half of area 3 and 4-year olds are enrolled in a preschool program. Children in the area are also far more likely than most to receive needed medical treatment. Only 0.2% of children in Kingston lack health insurance. Nationwide, 4.8% of children are without health insurance.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Bismarck, ND
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +18.0%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 227.1
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 43.5%
> Graduation rate: 84.7%

Due in part to an economic boom fueled by resource extraction in North Dakota’s Bakken shale region, the number of families living in Bismarck shot up 18% over the last half decade, one of the fastest such increases of any metro area. Though falling oil prices are taking a toll, Bismarck’s economy is relatively strong, with only a 2.4% unemployment rate among working parents as of 2015 — well below the 3.8% nationwide rate. Jobs are not only plentiful, but also tend to pay well. The typical metro area family earns $90,672 a year, more than in all but 12 other metro areas.

Source: Thinkstock

17. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
> 5-yr. change in number of families: -1.4%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 116.5
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 55.4%
> Graduation rate: 84.2%

Time is a precious commodity for working parents — and those in the La Crosse-Onalaska metro area likely have more of it than most. The average commute time in the metro area is less than 19 minutes — compared to a more than 26-minute average commute nationwide. Additionally, 55.4% of 3 and 4-year olds in La Crosse-Onalaska are enrolled preschool, one of the higher shares among U.S. metro areas.

Source: Jeff Keen / Wikimedia Commons

16. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +2.1%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 152.8
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 51.6%
> Graduation rate: 84.5%

Minnesota offers free preschool for 4-year olds, which considerably reduces the estimated $922 monthly cost of raising a child of this age in the state. Not only does the universal preschool program save parents money, but early childhood education can help brain development. The Mankato-North Mankato metro area is one of a minority nationwide where more than half of all 3 and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool.

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