Top 5 U.S. Cities to Raise a Family

When you’re in college and still carrying around your beer bong and living in a dorm, you probably want different things out of a city than when you have kids and are ready to settle down. Same goes if you’re single and want to meet people. Before you have kids, the idea of a quiet, idyllic city with a great school system is probably way down the list after clubs, bars, restaurants, and cheap sushi.

Things change when you have a family. Say you want the best for your kids but you also don’t like the idea of moving back to your tiny hometown and living right next to your mom and dad. Say also that you still want to have a full life, despite the diaper changing and midnight tantrums. There are plenty of U.S. cities that are great for balancing work, life, and family. Cities that give your kids the best opportunities and give you the best options for date night.

Let’s see what Parenting.com calls the top five cities in America for raising a family, as of 2012. Maybe it will inspire you to pack up and move!

5 Cheyenne, Wyoming

If Portland, Maine is too far east for you but you still want a small town feel, check out Cheyenne, Wyoming. It’s in Big Sky Country, has very low crime, and there’s an air force base so there are plenty of jobs. Take you kids to the rodeo, have them learn about the history of the West, and watch them grow up to appreciate the outdoors.

4 Austin, Texas

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This continually shows up on “Top Cities To …” lists, whether it’s for the culture, the affordable housing, or the healthy living. Speaking of culture, if you want your kids to grow up with music, movies, and art at their fingertips, Austin is for you. There are plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and swimming, and it’s a good place for career-family balance with easy commutes and a laid-back attitude. If culture plus ease of living are your must-haves, Austin might be your town.

3 Portland, Maine

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If the rush and crowds of a big city are not for you, look no further than charming Portland. Not THAT Portland. This one’s clear across the United States, in the lobster capitol of … Maine. It might be small, but the crime rate is low, there is a neighborhood feel, and people are nice to one another. Add to that the fact that there’s clean air, plenty of outdoor activities (fishing! hiking! clam bakes!), great schools, and it’s only few short hours from gorgeous Acadia National Park.

2 Burlington, Vermont

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If images of pickling jars and cheddar cheese pop into your head when you think of Vermont, that’s cool. There’s a lot more to it than that, though. At least as far as the city of Burlington, number two on Parenting.com’s list. There are plenty of outdoor activities, there is gorgeous Lake Champlain where you can take your kids for all kinds of water sports activities, and of course the skiing and snowboarding are great too. Supposedly people from the college leave when they graduate and then return to settle down, so there are plenty of young families. They have healthy, good food in schools, and your kids will get a great education.

1 Boston, Massachusetts

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If you want to groom your kids for Harvard from birth, this is the town for you! Just kidding – please don’t do that, it would be a little psycho. But Boston has a ton of history, plenty of open-air parks, and, yes, a great education system. A lot of the schools have solid arts programs as well, and before-school exercise programs to keep the kids healthy. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll be able to lay claim to one of the most beloved baseball teams – and go to Boston’s historic stadium. Taking your kids to see the Red Sox at Wrigley is pretty cool. There’s also a new highway system and an amazing children’s hospital.

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