Best Cities for Families

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5. Manchester-Nashua, NH
> 5-yr. change in number of families: -3.1%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 281.4
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 52.1%
> Graduation rate: 87.0%

Despite reporting a 3.1% decline in the total number of families in the last five years, the Manchester metro area is one of the best places in the country for families. Both the area’s 8.8% child poverty rate and 2.1% child uninsured rates are less than half the corresponding national figures. Families also have relatively easy access to areas for sports and physical activity. There are 65 recreation centers, including swimming pools and tennis courts, for every 100,000 area families, a larger share than in all but 14 other U.S. metro areas.

4. Appleton, WI
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +4.9%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 138.8
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 42.9%
> Graduation rate: 91.9%

If you like playdates in the park, consider moving to Appleton, Wisconsin. The metro area ranks among the top 10 nationwide for its concentration of public parks. The students of Appleton are no slouches either, boasting a 92% graduation rate, putting them in the top 15 nationwide.

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3. State College, PA
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +0.8%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 102.6
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 49.0%
> Graduation rate: 91.6%

Students in State College, Pennsylvania are more likely to graduate from high school than those in the vast majority of U.S. metro areas. The State College metro area’s 91.6% graduation rate is well above the comparable 83.0% U.S. figure. Metro area parents are also far more likely to have a steady income, as only 1.6% of adults in the workforce with children are without a job, less than half the U.S. unemployment rate among parents.

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2. Madison, WI
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +11.1%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 211.9
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 47.9%
> Graduation rate: 88.3%

Madison, Wisconsin ranks well compared to other metro areas in measures of both education and recreation. Children in the metro area are more likely to be enrolled in preschool and graduate from high school than those in most other metro areas. Additionally, families in Madison have better access to recreation centers and sports facilities than is typical in most cities. The number of families in the metro area has spiked by 11.1% in the last five years, nearly six times the growth rate nationwide.

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1. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
> 5-yr. change in number of families: +3.5%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 201.5
> Share of 3-4 yr. olds in preschool: 69.5%
> Graduation rate: 89.3%

While the city of Bridgeport struggles with a number of socioeconomic problems, including a 20.6% poverty rate, the broader metro area is the best place to raise a family in the United States. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area boasts the nation’s highest preschool enrollment rate, the best access to sports and recreation facilities, and the third highest median income among families.