As homebuying season kicks into gear, young families looking at their first home purchase must decide where to settle for at least the next few years. For homebuyers willing and able to make a significant move, we took a look at the economic and social data of cities across the country to determine the best places for young families to buy homes.
Top 10 Cities for Young Families Buying a House
|5||Sandy Springs, Georgia||277.3|
We assessed over 300 of the largest cities in the U.S. based on several criteria that reflect the typical priorities of young homebuying families. These included not only the affordability of real estate but also local economic strength, the quality of education, crime rates, and the level of services available in each city.
To determine which cities represented the best places for families in each part of the country, we broke down our overall rankings according to region as well.
The best cities for young families in the Northeast included some major urban centers—but compared to other parts of the country, most of the highest-ranking cities in this region fell behind in our measures of affordability and value for younger families.
|3||New York, New York||186.3||106|
Other than Cambridge, Massachusetts, none of the top ten cities in the Northeast fared very well in the national rankings of the best places for young homebuying families. Major metro areas like New York City and Boston were weighed down by the extreme unaffordability of their local home prices. Nevertheless, the high quality of education and services found in these urban centers tended to elevate their scores compared to smaller cities in the Northeast.
The best cities for young families in the Midwest compared fairly well against other regions, with all five leading cities landing within the top 50 among the places we compared.
|1||Overland Park, Kansas||262.0||17|
|4||Ann Arbor, Michigan||231.3||38|
Overland Park and Olathe, both located in Kansas, led the list of places for young families in Midwestern states to consider. Both cities earned points for having a high proportion of homeowners who spent less than 30% of their monthly income on mortgage payments and real estate taxes. In general, Midwestern cities scored well in terms of housing affordability but were hurt by lower ratings on economic strength and education.
In the South, suburban cities in Texas dominated the list of top places for young families to consider settling down. Four of the five highest-scoring cities for this region were located in the Lone Star State.
|3||Sandy Springs, Georgia||277.3||5|
|4||League City, Texas||269.0||12|
Cities in Texas scored much better in our analysis compared to other southern states, and both Frisco and Pearland were also ranked 3rd and 4th nationally. Georgia was the only other state in the top five, represented by Sandy Springs. For families, the best cities in the South featured very affordable housing markets combined with moderate economic performance, but tended to rate lower on the scale for education and accessibility of services.
The best in the West for young homebuyers included some expensive housing markets that made the cut thanks to their excellent quality of local education and strong economic performance.
The unmanageable rise of housing prices in California is one of the biggest narratives in homebuying today. When it comes to picking a place for your first family home, we found multiple cities in Arizona and other western states that offered more affordable markets than the Bay Area and Los Angeles. While the top spot was taken by Bellevue, Washington—a similarly expensive suburban extension of Seattle—Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado joined the list with suburbs of their own.
Full List of Cities
Our study of the best places for young families assigned a composite score to each of the 318 U.S. cities with at least 100,000 residents, based on economic and social factors that we selected to represent the homebuying priorities of young families.
|5||Sandy Springs, Georgia||277.3|
|11||Santa Clara, California||270|
|12||League City, Texas||269|
|16||Highlands Ranch, Colorado||263.5|
|17||Overland Park, Kansas||262|
|21||Cary, North Carolina||260.8|
|24||The Woodlands, Texas||254.5|
|27||San Mateo, California||249|
|31||West Jordan, Utah||245.5|
|32||San Diego, California||243.5|
|35||Santa Rosa, California||237.8|
|37||Charleston, South Carolina||233.8|
|38||Fort Collins, Colorado||231.3|
|38||Ann Arbor, Michigan||231.3|
|42||Round Rock, Texas||227.5|
|44||Raleigh, North Carolina||221.5|
|46||Coral Springs, Florida||220.8|
|50||Huntington Beach, California||220|
|51||San Jose, California||219.5|
|53||Boise City, Idaho||219|
|57||Thousand Oaks, California||216.5|
|62||Broken Arrow, Oklahoma||214.3|
|69||Simi Valley, California||209.3|
|70||Salt Lake City, Utah||208|
|73||Durham, North Carolina||207.5|
|74||Elk Grove, California||206.8|
|75||Fargo, North Dakota||204.5|
|78||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||203.3|
|86||Grand Prairie, Texas||200|
|89||Santa Clarita, California||199.3|
|90||Fort Worth, Texas||199|
|91||Colorado Springs, Colorado||198|
|95||Urban Honolulu, Hawaii||194.8|
|96||Sterling Heights, Michigan||194.3|
|97||Costa Mesa, California||194|
|98||Kansas City, Missouri||192|
|100||Pembroke Pines, Florida||191.3|
|105||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||186.5|
|106||New York, New York||186.3|
|113||San Francisco, California||182.5|
|114||West Palm Beach, Florida||182|
|114||West Valley City, Utah||182|
|116||Los Angeles, California||181.3|
|116||Chula Vista, California||181.3|
|120||Daly City, California||180.5|
|125||Grand Rapids, Michigan||178.5|
|131||Charlotte, North Carolina||176|
|132||St. Petersburg, Florida||175.3|
|139||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||171.3|
|148||Long Beach, California||167|
|152||Las Vegas, Nevada||163.8|
|154||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||163|
|155||Rancho Cucamonga, California||162.5|
|158||Pompano Beach, Florida||161.5|
|161||St. Paul, Minnesota||159.3|
|163||West Covina, California||158.3|
|165||Virginia Beach, Virginia||157|
|167||Des Moines, Iowa||155.8|
|170||Spring Valley, Nevada||154|
|171||St. Louis, Missouri||153|
|172||Green Bay, Wisconsin||152.5|
|172||San Antonio, Texas||152.5|
|174||Yonkers, New York||152.3|
|175||Fort Wayne, Indiana||151.5|
|178||Garden Grove, California||147.8|
|179||El Cajon, California||147.3|
|180||Little Rock, Arkansas||147|
|181||Santa Ana, California||146.5|
|186||Paterson, New Jersey||143.8|
|189||Port St. Lucie, Florida||142.3|
|189||Jersey City, New Jersey||142.3|
|194||College Station, Texas||140.5|
|195||Cape Coral, Florida||139|
|196||Columbia, South Carolina||138.8|
|197||Manchester, New Hampshire||138|
|198||North Las Vegas, Nevada||136.8|
|202||Baton Rouge, Louisiana||134|
|204||High Point, North Carolina||133.3|
|207||Newark, New Jersey||130.5|
|215||El Monte, California||125.5|
|219||Miami Gardens, Florida||123.5|
|221||Elizabeth, New Jersey||123.3|
|222||North Charleston, South Carolina||123|
|237||Greensboro, North Carolina||112.8|
|244||Palm Bay, Florida||110.5|
|248||El Paso, Texas||107.5|
|249||San Angelo, Texas||107|
|251||Newport News, Virginia||106.3|
|255||East Los Angeles, California||104.3|
|257||Wilmington, North Carolina||101.8|
|261||Rochester, New York||99.5|
|262||New Orleans, Louisiana||98.5|
|264||Corpus Christi, Texas||98.3|
|266||Moreno Valley, California||98|
|267||Santa Maria, California||97.5|
|269||New Haven, Connecticut||95.5|
|271||Spring Hill, Florida||92.3|
|274||Lehigh Acres, Florida||90.5|
|275||Providence, Rhode Island||89.8|
|276||Buffalo, New York||89.3|
|278||Sunrise Manor, Nevada||88.5|
|281||Wichita Falls, Texas||85.3|
|282||South Bend, Indiana||84|
|289||Syracuse, New York||77.5|
|293||San Bernardino, California||74.8|
|296||Winston-Salem, North Carolina||71.8|
|297||Kansas City, Kansas||71.5|
|310||Las Cruces, New Mexico||51|
|314||Albuquerque, New Mexico||46|
|316||Fayetteville, North Carolina||41.3|
Methodology: How We Chose the Best Cities
Our analysis of the best cities for young families to buy a home rested on four broad categories: homebuying, economic opportunity, education, and safety. Each category comprised several data points that reflected the priorities of a young family seeking a balance of affordability and quality in their neighborhood.
The study covered 318 cities in the United States, each with a reported population of at least 100,000. To understand how we arrived at our conclusions, read an explanation of each category and its related factors below.
Homebuying and Housing Affordability
The affordability of housing was one of our first concerns. When choosing your family's first house, it's important to consider cities where property prices promise growth but are still affordable. To measure these opposing qualities, we looked at the change in the median home value for each city alongside the percentage of local homeowners who earned enough to afford their monthly mortgage payments.
There were a few additional factors required to round out the picture of homeownership in each city. To determine the varying availability of housing supply in different markets, we examined the percentage of homes that were vacant and up for sale. To evaluate the burden of local tax policies, we also included the ratio of annual property taxes relative to median home value.
The second half of the affordability question rests on local wages and work opportunities. After analyzing the cost of living and buying a home in different cities, we rated them on unemployment rates, average commuting times and a bundle of other economic factors—summarized by Policom Corporation's ranking of economic strength in America's metropolitan and micropolitan areas.
Education and Environment
For families with young children, our analysis also included indicators of educational quality. These included statewide composite scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the ratio of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool programs, the number of local arts and entertainment facilities, and the rate of poverty among family households.
Health and Safety
Our final category took into account the rate of violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents in each jurisdiction. Where city data was not reported to the FBI by local law enforcement, we referred to data submitted on the county level for that city. We also considered the number of health and social assistance facilities within reach of each municipality.