Special Report

Worst Cities to Raise Children

Source: Rivers Langley; SaveRivers / Wikimedia Commons

10. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL
> Preschool enrollment: 33.2% (lowest 10%)
> High school graduation rate: 92.2% (highest 10%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 48.2% (lowest 10%)
> Violent crime rate: 894.7 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

Fewer than one third of three- and four-year-olds in the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville area of Alabama are enrolled in preschool. Nationwide, that rate is much higher at 48.0%. Violence is also a serious problem in the area, as 895 violent crimes are reported for every 100,000 residents. Despite these challenges, the Anniston area actually has one of the higher graduation rates in the nation. An estimated 92.2% of high school students graduated, one of the best rates in the country.

Source: ferrantraite / Getty Images

9. Albuquerque, NM
> Preschool enrollment: 45.7%
> High school graduation rate: 66.1% (lowest 10%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 84.6%
> Violent crime rate: 901.0 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

In addition to facing risk of direct harm, children living in areas with high violent crime are more likely to experience greater stress levels, which can have an impact on their health. Albuquerque has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation. There were 901 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 Albuquerque residents. The robbery rate, 239 reported robberies per 100,000 people, is more than double the national rate. Less than two-thirds of Albuquerque students graduate from high school on time. Only two other metro areas have a lower graduation rate.

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

8. Monroe, LA
> Preschool enrollment: 47.6%
> High school graduation rate: 81.2%
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 68.8%
> Violent crime rate: 1186.9 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

Monroe, Louisiana is the most dangerous place to raise a child in the U.S. The violent crime rate of 1,187 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents is the highest of any metro area in the nation. There were 958 aggravated assaults reported for every 100,000 residents in 2016, also the country’s highest rate. The area’s education system also compares poorly to most of the rest of the country. Both Monroe’s preschool enrollment rate and graduation rate are below national averages.

Source: JNix / Shutterstock.com

7. Gadsden, AL
> Preschool enrollment: 38.2%
> High school graduation rate: 84.1%
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 43.6% (lowest 10%)
> Violent crime rate: 711.9 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

In the Gadsden, Alabama area, just 43.6% of the population has access to somewhere they can get some physical activity. Nationwide, the rate is nearly 40 percentage points higher.

In addition to reporting poor educational outcomes among the area’s children, Gadsden is one of the most violent metro areas in the country. The violent crime rate, which is 712 reported instances per 100,000 residents, is particularly driven by assault. There were 569 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents reported, which is more than double the national rate. Living in an area with serious violent crime issues can reduce a child’s sense of well being and hinder emotional development.

Source: Chilkoot / Getty Images

6. Anchorage, AK
> Preschool enrollment: 29.9% (lowest 10%)
> High school graduation rate: 79.4%
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 83.9%
> Violent crime rate: 1114.9 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

Anchorage, Alaska is the only metro area among the 25 worst places to raise children in which the median family income is actually above the national average of $71,062. The Anchorage area is actually among the most affluent in the U.S. with an average family income of $95,872.

Yet area children still face many problems that tend to affect low-income places. Anchorage has the second-highest violent crime rate in the country, with 1,115 reported violent crimes per 100,000 residents — close to triple the U.S. rate. Children in the Anchorage area are less likely to receive a complete education as well. The preschool enrollment rate of 29.9% is well below the 48.0% national rate. Anchorage’s high school graduation rate is also below the 84.1% average of all metro areas.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.