In the rankings, a lower cost of living might be offset by a lack of access to good child-care services
When it comes to deciding where to raise a family, there are plenty of factors to consider: career opportunities, cost of living, school systems, housing, and health and safety being just a few. If you’re looking to make a move across state lines in the near future, you may want to check out WalletHub’s findings.
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The personal finance website compared all 50 states across 51 key indicators of family-friendliness, including housing affordability, childcare costs, violent crime, annual family income, neighborhood support, and unemployment rates. These indicators were grouped into five main categories: family fun, health and safety, education and childcare, affordability, and socio-economics.
WalletHub also coordinated with a panel of experts to discuss issues that include child development, how it's influenced by the state a family lives in, and what things to consider when putting down roots.
When asked what families should consider when choosing a place to raise kids, director of Barnard College Center for Toddler Development Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D. states, "Cost is essential: is this a community that the family can afford to buy or rent a home or apartment, and will they be able to move to a bigger place if or when their family grows? Can they afford the amenities they will want such as recreation, and the necessities, such as health care and child care, that this area offers?"
But access to educational opportunities has a huge impact as well. "Starting early in life, access to high-quality affordable early childhood education has significant implications for children’s learning and social development, family well-being, and ultimately community and state economic development," adds Melissa A. Barnett, Ph.D., director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families. And a state's level of commitment to policies that support those opportunities is something parents should be aware of.
So, what are the best states to raise a family?
According to the findings, the top 5 best states for families to live in are:
3. New York
4. North Dakota
And the worst?
On the flip side, WalletHub also determined the lowest-ranking states, which include:
49. New Mexico
48. West Virginia
46. South Carolina
—with additional reporting by Gabby Cullen