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Raising a Family? Here’s Where to Live (and Where to Avoid)

Raising a Family? Here’s Where to Live (and Where to Avoid)

For families with kids, factors like neighborhood safety and school district ratings play a big role in where they choose to live. Moving can be extremely stressful on a family, so parents often look for cities where they can put down roots and settle in for a while as their children grow up.

That’s why research on a neighborhood, including its property values, job opportunities, economic growth and proximity to family amenities, is essential for parents and parents-to-be. To help families narrow down their choices, WalletHub recently compared more than 180 American cities to uncover the best places to raise a family.

The WalletHub study looked at the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state. The company consulted with experts in family studies, psychology and household finance to determine the best indicators of a “good” place to raise children. The top five metrics—family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability and socio-economics—were then assessed across each of WalletHub’s chosen cities.

After assigning an individual ranking to each city for these five metrics, an overall score was calculated to list the cities in order from best to worst.

The best places to raise a family in America

According to WalletHub, here are the top 10 U.S. cities in which to raise your family:

RankCityBest Indicator
1Overland Park, KansasAffordability (#1)
2Fremont, CaliforniaHealth and Safety (#1) and Socio-economics (#1)
3Irvine, CaliforniaHealth and Safety (#2)
4Plano, TexasSocio-economics (#2)
5South Burlington, VermontEducation and Child Care (#1)
6Bismarck, North DakotaAffordability (#6)
7Gilbert, ArizonaSocio-economics (#11)
8Fargo, North DakotaEducation and Child Care (#10)
9Scottsdale, ArizonaSocio-economics (#10)
10Boise, IdahoAffordability (#5)

The worst places to raise a family in America

Conversely, you may want to avoid the following 10 cities if you have children:

RankCityWorst Indicator
1Detroit, MichiganSocio-economics (#182)
2Newark, New JerseyAffordability (#179)
3Cleveland, OhioSocio-economics (#180)
4Memphis, TennesseeHealth and Safety (#182)
5Shreveport, LouisianaHealth and Safety (#180)
6Wilmington, DelawareSocio-economics (#181)
7San Bernardino, CaliforniaAffordability (#178)
8Hialeah, FloridaAffordability (#181)
9Baltimore, MarylandSocio-economics (#178)
10Augusta, GeorgiaEducation and Child Care (#174)

You can view the full ranking table on WalletHub.

How to choose the right neighborhood from your family

Based on WalletHub’s expert insights, here are a few key things to consider when choosing the right place to settle down with your family:

  • Your social support network in/near the area you plan to move.
  • Quality of life factors (access to fresh produce, youth employment opportunities, etc.)
  • Educational institutions through the university level
  • Diversity in residents/neighborhoods
  • Access to green spaces/parks

Want to know what properties in your neighborhood are worth? Plug any address into NeighborWho to find out owner details, current value and more.

Do People Really Move Because of Bad Neighbors?

Do People Really Move Because of Bad Neighbors?

Have you ever been so annoyed by a neighbor that you’ve thought about moving to get away from them?

While “neighbors from hell” do indeed cause some homeowners and renters to leave their current living arrangement, most people decide they can live with their neighbor’s quirks: A recent survey by marketing agency Fractl found that just 5% of people who moved in the last year did so because of bad relations with their neighbor.

The most common reasons for moving

According to the survey, which polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults, a new job or job transfer was the No. 1 reason for relocation, cited by nearly a quarter of respondents. 

Most of the other top reasons for moving were house and neighborhood-related or family-related:

  • Better home (23.9%)
  • Larger home (17.5%)
  • Family reasons (16.5%)
  • Closer to work (16.3%)
  • Better neighborhood (15.4%)
  • Cheaper home (12.4%)
  • Change in relationship status (11.4%)
  • Following a spouse (10.5%)
  • Safe, family-oriented environment (10.0%)

Some less common motivations respondents cited include moving closer to elderly parents or children, desire to live in a better school district and retirement.

How to manage stress during your move

Anyone who’s ever moved knows how stressful it can be to pack up and transport everything you own to a new location. The Fractl study found that moving negatively impacted the average respondent’s sleep for 15 nights after they arrived at their new place, and 50% cited stress as the main reason for poor sleep. 

The distance you move can also impact your sleep quality, according to the survey. Most respondents (65%) relocated within 50 miles of their previous residence, and those who moved within the same city were 52% less likely to experience worse sleep quality. This is likely because of the shift to unfamiliar surroundings when you relocate to a new city or state — 42.4% of respondents said this factor affected their sleep after a move.

No matter how far away you’re moving, Fractl recommended the following tips to combat post-move stress:

  • Unpack and set up your bedroom as soon as possible.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Limit your caffeine intake late in the day.
  • Adjust the room temperature.
  • Take a warm shower or bath right before bed.

Want to check out property values in a neighborhood before you move? Plug any address into NeighborWho to find out owner details, current value and more.

Looking to Rent? Here Are America’s Highest and Lowest Rents

Looking to Rent? Here Are America’s Highest and Lowest Rents

Many Americans believe that renting is more affordable than home ownership – and that might be true, depending on where you live. However, the average American mortgage payment of $1,029 is nothing compared to the nation’s highest rental rates.

According to a July 2019 report by Zumper, San Francisco beat out New York City as the nation’s priciest rental market. A one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco will run you $3,720 a month, and a two-bedroom jumps up to $4,800. This represents a 6.3% and 2.3% year-over-year increase, respectively.

Compare that to America’s lowest-priced rental market of Akron, Ohio, where you can get a one-bedroom for $550 a month or a two-bedroom for $730. Both of these current averages have decreased since this time last year.

The top 10 highest rents in America

Here are the median costs of one- and two-bedroom apartments in the country’s highest rental markets, according to the Zumper report:

RankCityOne-Bedroom Median RentTwo-Bedroom Median Rent
1San Francisco, CA$3,720$4,800
2New York, NY$2,940$3,380
3San Jose, CA$2,500$3,000
4Boston, MA$2,450$2,840
5Washington, DC$2,240$2,850
6Los Angeles, CA$2,230$3,120
7Oakland, CA$2,200$2,720
8Seattle, WA$1,850$2,400
9Miami, FL$1,790$2,300
10Santa Ana, CA$1,780$2,180

The top 10 lowest rents in America

Rather live somewhere a little more affordable? These 10 U.S. cities had the lowest median rent costs:

RankCityOne-Bedroom Median RentTwo-Bedroom Median Rent
1Akron, OH$550$730
2Wichita, KS$610$690
3Detroit, MI$610$690
4Lubbock, TX$630$780
5Tucson, AZ$640$880
6Tulsa, OK$650$800
7Shreveport, LA$650$700
8El Paso, TX$650$800
9Lincoln, NE$670$890
10Columbus, OH$700$1,070

Common factors that impact cost of living

Why does the same $2,000 in rent get you a tiny studio apartment in one city and a spacious four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in another?

There are a lot of complex factors that play into a particular area’s cost of living, including housing inventory, population, public transportation options, education and employment opportunities, and proximity to resources such as food supplies and gas.

These are all important things to consider before choosing a neighborhood in which to buy or rent property. For example, if you move to a large coastal city, you’ll have easy access to jobs, amenities, entertainment and international travel – but as the Zumper data shows, you’ll pay much more for housing and basic necessities. Settling down in a smaller city or suburb might mean you need to travel further for work, shopping and nightlife, but your housing costs will be significantly less.

Want to know what properties in your neighborhood are worth? Plug any address into NeighborWho to find out owner details, current value and more. 

Millennials Want Houses, and Boomers Are Eager to Sell—So What’s The Holdup?

Millennials Want Houses, and Boomers Are Eager to Sell—So What’s The Holdup?

The millennial generation – generally defined as individuals born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s – has been accused of “ruining” a lot of things. Depending on who you ask, you might have heard that this cohort is killing marriage, department stores, dinner dates, sitcoms, paper napkins, and yes – the housing market.

Right now, there is an abundance of inventory in the current real estate market that simply isn’t selling. A Wall Street Journal article explains that baby boomers and retirees spent millions of dollars in the early 2000s building large, elaborate homes, so they could “live out their golden years in houses with all the bells and whistles.”

As these homeowners age, their spacious, multi-level dwellings are getting harder to maintain and live in. Unfortunately, they can’t downsize until they sell – and that’s getting harder and harder to do, with few young buyers interested in their properties.

Why aren’t millennials buying real estate?

It’s true that millennials aren’t purchasing real estate the way their parents and grandparents did. According to data from The Urban Institute, around 45% of baby boomers and Gen Xers were homeowners at age 25 to 34. That percentage is just 37% among millennials, many of whom currently fall into this age bracket.

So what changed for this generation? Why aren’t millennials buying homes? Are they too financially burdened by student debt to afford real estate? Are they just not interested in home ownership? Are they wasting all their money on avocado toast?

As with many major market shifts, the answer to this question is complex and multi-faceted. It’s hard to pinpoint a single determining factor that has dissuaded millennials from purchasing homes. However, there are a few contributing circumstances that make this trend unlikely to reverse any time soon:

Job availability and affordable housing rarely exist in the same market. The Atlantic reports that in desirable, affordable cities, there aren’t many good jobs available to fund a home purchase. Conversely, in major metropolitan areas where jobs are plentiful, housing units aren’t being built fast enough to keep up with the employment demand. The homes that are available in these areas are often unaffordable, based on early and mid-career millennials’ salaries.

There’s a growing gap between median income and home value. A survey by real estate firm Unison found that, on average, it takes 14 years for Americans to save up for a 20% home down payment, if they’re saving 5% of their city’s gross median income each year. That figure was just nine years in 1975. The gap is even more pronounced in metro markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Miami, where it would take more than 35 years to save up a 20% down payment.

Home buying conditions are less favorable now than they were decades ago. For younger would-be buyers who are looking to purchase modest, affordable homes, credit is harder to come by now than it was. Lenders are less inclined to issue smaller mortgage loans (below $70,000) because they don’t see as big of a profit, reports another Wall Street Journal article. Combine this with high student debt, rising property taxes, and restrictive zoning policies, and many millennials simply don’t see home ownership as a feasible option.

Beyond the economic aspects, millennials have another reason not to buy homes: They’ve embraced what Forbes describes as a “rentership society,” where they “can have it all but own none of it.”

This is not unique to real estate; with everything from vehicles to entertainment and even clothing, millennials are increasingly opting to pay for on-demand access and the freedom to change their minds, rather than commit to owning and maintaining something that will depreciate in value. To this generation, renting indefinitely often seems more convenient and financially practical than investing in a home they may want to move out of in a few years.

What will happen to the baby boomers’ big, unsellable homes?

If a modern millennial does take the plunge into home ownership, they’re unlikely to go for the sprawling, multi-million dollar estates today’s baby boomers are trying to sell. Candace Taylor of The Wall Street Journal writes that buyers of all ages now “eschew … large, ornate houses” in secluded areas, in favor of smaller properties in walking distance of lifestyle essentials like restaurants, retail and nightlife.

Taylor notes that many of the baby boomers’ big, expensive homes built before 2012 are selling for far less than the owners paid to build them, sometimes at a nearly 50% discount. These homes often sit on the market for a year or more, trapping the owners in properties they don’t want, and settling for selling prices at which they can’t make a profit.

If baby boomers hope to sell their homes, catering to millennials’ taste for all things modern, minimalist and low-maintenance can be a good start. Real estate experts recommend upgrading what you can to ensure a new buyer will not be scared away by expensive renovations. The Spruce advises focusing on kitchen and bathroom remodels – particularly countertops, cabinets, fixtures and hardware – if you want the best chance of recouping your investment.

Want to know what properties in your neighborhood are worth? Plug any address into NeighborWho to find out owner details, current value and more.

The Best Public High Schools in Each State

The Best Public High Schools in Each State

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

The quality of public schools is a perennial topic of concern for parents of school-aged children and homeowners. Now a new report from Niche on the best high schools in each state may help shed light on whether you’re living or looking in the right neighborhood and can enjoy all the advantages that come with a coveted zip code.

A great public school isn’t a neighborhood signpost only parents of school-aged children should look for. According to a report in The New York Times, there is a direct correlation between school performance and home values. The article notes that in suburban areas, a five percent rise in test scores correlates to a two and a half percent rise in home values.

What the best public high schools have in common

To come up with their best public high schools list, Niche, a platform that looks at school and neighborhood rankings, looked at several factors including SAT and ACT scores, reading and math proficiency, AP enrollment, graduation rate and diversity.

What their list found was a good portion of the best public high schools are specialized ones that focus on a particular curriculum. Examples include the top two ranked schools, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools offer a much-touted STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum and have a tough admissions policy with acceptance rates similar to top-tier universities.

In the case of Illinois’ Mathematics and Science Academy, admission is open to anyone in the state, while Thomas Jefferson accepts students from six different school districts in Northern Virginia. Both schools note that admission is extremely competitive, with acceptance rates similar to top-tier universities.

Here are the rest of the best public high schools by state:

Alabama Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School   Montgomery 52
Alaska West High School Anchorage 1,301
Arizona Basis Scottsdale Scottsdale   7
Arkansas Haas Hall Academy Fayetteville   347
California Canyon Crest Academy San Diego   16
Colorado Cherry Creek High School Greenwood Village   122
Connecticut Staples High School Westport   125
Delaware Charter School of Wilmington Wilmington   26
District of Columbia The School Without Walls High School Washington, DC   179
Florida Pine View School Osprey   69
Georgia Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology Lawrenceville 13  
Hawaii Education Laboratory School Honolulu   1,282
Idaho Boise Senior High School Boise   512
Illinois Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Aurora   1
Indiana West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School West Lafayette   39
Iowa Ames High School Ames Community School District   164
Kansas Blue Valley North High School Overland Park   49
Kentucky DuPont Manual High School Louisville   35
Louisiana Benjamin Franklin High School New Orleans   32
Maine Maine School of Science & Mathematics Limestone   86
Maryland Poolesville High School Poolesville   30
Massachusetts Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science Worcester   10
Michigan International Academy Bloomfield Hills   54
Minnesota Minnetonka Senior High School Minnetonka   127
Mississippi The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Columbus   6
Missouri Clayton High School Clayton   72
Montana Bozeman High School Bozeman   1,210
Nebraska Millard North High School Omaha   500
Nevada The Davidson Academy Reno   25
New Hampshire Hanover High School Hanover   124
New Jersey Bergen County Academies Hackensack  12
New Mexico Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science Albuquerque   762
New York Stuyvesant High School New York City   4
North Carolina Raleigh Charter High School Raleigh   29
North Dakota Fargo Davies High School Fargo   1,194
Ohio Dublin Jerome High School Dublin   64
Oklahoma Booker T. Washington High School Tulsa   328
Oregon South Eugene High School Eugene   493
Pennsylvania Conestoga Senior High School Berwyn   24
Rhode Island Barrington High School Barrington   496
South Carolina Academic Magnet High School North Charleston   40
South Dakota Brandon Valley High School Brandon   1,675
Tennessee Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School Nashville 87  
Texas Liberal Arts & Science Academy Austin 11  
Utah Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy Lindon   312
Vermont South Burlington High School South Burlington441  
Virginia Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology Alexandria   2
Washington Tesla STEM High School Redmond43  
West Virginia Morgantown High School Morgantown 1,828  
Wisconsin Whitefish Bay High School Whitefish Bay 100  
Wyoming Big Horn High School Big Horn1,875  

Most of the very top public high schools included on this list offer an education on par with private schools, with the added benefit of no tuition cost. The trade-off: many of these public schools have extremely competitive entrance requirements or lottery systems, meaning that simply moving within the school district area is no guarantee that your child will automatically be admitted into the school.

While there may be other good schools in the same neighborhood, this isn’t always the case, as an article in the Washingtonian points out using the example of Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ). It notes that graduates from TJ outperform their peers from the same Northern Virginia county by 526 points on SAT scores, but neighboring high schools have some of the lowest graduation rates in the school district.

To learn more about the schools in your neighborhood or beyond, log in to NeighborWho to get home values, school ratings and crime statistics.