10 Best States to Raise a Family

by Ana-Maria Sanders   Date Published: Mar 14, 2022

Raising a family is a huge responsibility, and people instinctively want their kids to grow up safe and happy. Since U.S. states have different living conditions and qualities of life, some families may consider moving to another state for better opportunities. It is estimated that 14% of the population migrate within the U.S. every year. The primary reasons include better job opportunities and a better environment for families. In this blog, we will list ten of the best states to raise a family in America.

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Before jumping into the list, let’s see what criteria were used for identifying the best states to raise a family.

General Overview

Family having movie night at homeIt’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a universally accepted best state to live in. While one state may be safer than another, it may have a higher cost of living or a lack of fun family activities. For that reason, this ranking is an aggregated result of five main indicators:

  • Affordability - housing prices, bills, retirement access, and median family income
  • Education & Child Care - quality of schools, graduation rate, parental leave, and daycare costs
  • Family Fun - number of attractions and fitness and recreational sports centers
  • Health & Safety - life expectancy, air pollution, water quality, violent crime rates, and safety of roads
  • Socio-economics - wealth gap, job opportunities, unemployment, and separation and divorce rates

The data used to create this ranking was taken from World Population Review and Statista.

State Total Score Affordability Rank Education & Child Care Rank Family Fun Rank Health & Safety Rank Socio-economic Rank
Massachusetts 60.88 6 3 9 10 21
Minnesota 60.57 11 8 14 5 5
North Dakota 60.1 14 2 33 7 1
New York 59.8 5 6 2 21 47
Vermont  59.16 27 5 40 1 4
New Hampshire 58.85 10 12 31 3 3
New Jersey 58.76 1 1 18 26 19
Washington 58.46 4 23 8 11 16
Connecticut 55.86 2 4 29 18 28
Utah 55.48 34 16 13 20 2

1. Massachusetts

Population: 6,912,239

Median household income: $81,215

Cost of living: Fifth highest

Massachusetts currently ranks as the best state to live in for families for multiple reasons. With a bundle of top-notch schools and universities, such as MIT, the state has the second-highest educational attainment rate in the country. Private schools are among the most expensive ones in the country, but you can also find some of the best public schools here.

The state also has other features that may appeal to families. For example, violent crime (338 per 100,000) and unemployment rates (3.3%) are pretty low. Healthcare and daycare are also easily accessible. In terms of family fun, Boston is a vibrant city that has a rich cultural heritage and offers various educational activities such as museums or other family leisure attractions like whale watching.

2. Minnesota

View of northern lights in MinnesotaPopulation: 5,706,398

Median household income: $71,306

Cost of living: Twentieth highest

Minnesota ranks among the safest states to raise a family in the U.S. The state also ranks high in socio-economic factors and has one of the country’s lowest divorce and family poverty rates. Additionally, compared to the rest of the states on this list, it has a relatively low cost of living index. This makes the North Star state an attractive choice for families who want to raise a family in a safe and healthy environment at affordable prices.

In terms of public crime rates, Minnesota ranks below the national average with 220.4 per 100,000 people. University of Minnesota and Carleton College are among the most reputable colleges in the country. Public education in Minnesota is ranked at number 12 among all states. Some of the activities that families with kids could experience include the Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in America, and the Minnesota Zoo. You can also travel to the northern part of the state to witness the northern lights.

3. North Dakota

Population: 770,026

Median household income: $64,894

Cost of living: Twenty-third highest

North Dakota ranks at the top of the socio-economic indicator and second of health and safety. The state is home to some of the country’s cheapest housing, with the median home price at $193,900. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $779 per month. The state’s residents also have a relatively high salary compared to the cost of living, which helps make it one of the best states to raise a family in the country.

The population of North Dakota is among the lowest in the country. The state isn’t rich in urban areas, but kids can grow close to nature and fresh air. For example, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of canyons or go for a hike at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

4. New York

View of bridge and river in Central Park New YorkPopulation: 19,299,981

Median household income: $68,486

Cost of living: Third highest

If you want to be close to a huge metropolitan area and raise your kids in a vibrant environment, you can consider moving to New York. The Big Apple is among the most expensive states to live in, but excellent health care and education opportunities can make up for this.

Considering the high population density, New York doesn’t rank as high as other states when it comes to safety. For instance, the violent crime rate is 350.8 per 100,000 people. The state also ranks pretty low in socio-economic indicators as it also has a relatively high poverty rate. However, New York doesn’t disappoint when it comes to family fun and entertainment. Home to America’s largest city, you can find almost anything here, from museums and theaters to beaches and skiing.

5. Vermont

Population: 623,251

Median household income: $61,973

Cost of living: Twelfth highest

Vermont is the second-lowest populated U.S. state and is the best in terms of health and safety. The state has a very low overall crime rate with 170 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people. It is also considered the healthiest state in America, with public health funding of $157 per person and a rate of 367 primary care physicians per 100,000 people.

Living in Vermont can be affordable compared to its neighboring states, but the cost of living is still higher than the national average. However, Vermont’s primary public schools are considered one of the best in the country. Besides, it is yet another place where children can grow up close to nature. Dubbed the Green Mountain State, Vermont is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. Also, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory is worth paying a visit if you’re in the area.

6. New Hampshire

Foliage and lake in New Hampshire Population: 1,372,203

Median household income: $76,768

Cost of living: Fourteenth highest

New Hampshire is a picturesque area with low crime rates and a strong education system. The violent crime rate is 195.7 incidents per 100,000 people. Socio-economic indicators are also high as the state has one of the highest median household incomes in the country and a relatively reasonable cost of living.

Overall, New Hampshire can be a very family-friendly state if you can keep up with relatively high housing prices. The median home price here is $261,700. The list of family activities includes the MWV Children’s Museum and the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. From clean beaches to skiable mountains, New Hampshire offers a variety of outdoor activities.

7. New Jersey

Population: 8,874,520

Median household income: $82,545

Cost of living: Ninth highest

New Jersey is one of the best states for families if you earn a relatively high income. The state ranks at the top of the affordability, education, and health care indexes. Additionally, daycare and childcare opportunities are abundant, and the state is home to some of the best public and private schools and universities in the country. The quality of life is also very high in the Garden State as its residents have the second-highest median household income in the country.

Crime rates are generally low, and there are many towns with great communities where people generally all know each other. There are also many indoor and outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy. You can go whale and dolphin watching at the Jersey shore, parasailing in Atlantic City, or the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

8. Washington

Washington state mountains, lake, and greeneryPopulation: 7,796,941

Median household income: $73,775

Cost of living: Thirteenth highest

This northwest state ranks high, especially in health, safety, and family fun categories. Lots of clean, green, and safe neighborhoods provide one of the most family-friendly environments in the country. Additionally, Washington is the top producer of organic fruits and vegetables. As a result of the state’s sustainability-oriented public policy, it is one of the healthiest places to raise kids in the U.S.

You can find fun family attractions anywhere you decide to settle. For example, Seattle offers various family trip destinations such as the Seattle Aquarium and The Future of Flight Aviation Center. The Evergreen State is also very mountainous, providing many opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, and ziplining.

9. Connecticut

Population: 3,552,821

Median household income: $78,444

Cost of living: Eighth highest

Similar to Massachusetts, the neighboring state of Connecticut is also one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. However, it has many attributes that justify the high cost of living. For instance, the state has the third-lowest violent crime rate in the country, with 227 cases per 100,000 people. Additionally, the education system in the state is top-notch, and it’s home to many prestigious schools, such as Yale University.

One of the perks of living in Connecticut is that even if you live in a remote area, the state is pretty close to other major cities like Boston and New York. The attractions in Connecticut also aren’t limited. You can choose to spend a day in an amusement park, visit an aquarium filled with friendly creatures, or go riverboating.

10. Utah

Zion National Park in UtahPopulation: 3,310,774

Median household income: $71,621

Cost of living: Twenty-fourth highest

Finally, the list concludes with Utah, home to astounding national parks and great food. Utah has the lowest cost of living out of these ten states but has a higher than average median household income. This makes it one of the best states to raise a family. Additionally, Utah ranks second in the socio-economic factors. Therefore, if you have an average salary, your dollar may be worth more than most other states.

Utah offers plenty of locations for all family types. Salt Lake City is a good choice for families who enjoy city life. However, nature won’t be too far away from wherever you choose to live in the state. In a couple of hours, you can reach any of the state’s five national parks and spend a day mountain biking in Moab or snowboarding in Park City.

Bottom Line

To sum up, if you’re considering moving to another state to establish a family, hopefully, the information in this blog can serve as a guide. Of course, there are multiple factors to consider when choosing a new home for your family, such as education opportunities, neighborhood safety, and healthcare. Cost of living and affordability also play important roles in this decision.

These ten states have a high average score for all the above-mentioned categories. Massachusetts currently tops the ranking as the best state for families, but other states are not far behind. Remember that you can turn any place into home because home is where family is.

Ana-Maria Sanders, author at OpenLoans
Financial Analyst
Ana-Maria Sanders writes about consumer and business finance. She has been featured on Business.com, CreditCards.com, FOX News, and FOX 29.
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