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.

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.

family incomes statistics in some of the worst and best states to raise a family
Wallet Hub

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?" 

child care costs statistics in a wallet hub study of the worst and best states to raise a family

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:

1. Massachusetts

2. Minnesota

3. New York

4. North Dakota

5. Vermont

And the worst?

On the flip side, WalletHub also determined the lowest-ranking states, which include:

50. Mississippi

49. New Mexico

48. West Virginia

47. Louisana

46. South Carolina


—with additional reporting by Gabby Cullen


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