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Best places to raise a family in the Southwest

  • Best places to raise a family in the Southwest

    The American Southwest has some of the most beautiful landscapes this nation has to offer and a rich human history stretching back through thousands of years of Native American culture, 19th-century gold mining, and industrial booms that turned desert into metropolises. Today, the Southwest has become a burgeoning tech and financial center. Increasing job opportunities, affordable housing prices, and top-rated public school systems have made the region a great place to settle down and raise a family.

    But choosing where to live can be a daunting task—especially when you factor in considerations for families. There’s a lot to consider, from education and safety to affordability and job stability. Climate, access to activities, and (in the case of master-planned communities) even architectural standards come into play. 

    To help families of all stages take a data-driven approach to finding the best communities within the Southwest, Stacker looked to Niche's 2019 Best Places to Raise a Family which evaluated dozens of important components. Public schools have the heaviest weight among the considerations included, while crime and safety, cost of living, demographics, and community resources all factor strongly (full methodology here). States that make up the Southwest are Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Only places with populations exceeding 10,000 were considered for this list, with at least five places from every state included to offer representation for all states. Keep reading to discover the most family-friendly places in the Southwest.

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  • #50. Farmington, NM

    - Population: 45,857
    - Median home value: $178,400 (67% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $839 (33% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $55,179
    - Educational attainment: 9% masters or higher, 12% bachelors, 40% some college, 40% high school or less

    While USA Today ranked Farmington as the #1 worst place to raise a family in its 2018 survey, the city actually has a ton of great family activities. From the E3 Children’s Museum & Science Center, to Farmington Museum, to All Veterans Memorial Plaza, there are plenty of cultural activities to allow your family to learn together.

  • #49. Las Cruces, NM

    - Population: 101,014
    - Median home value: $150,000 (54% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $770 (46% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $40,924
    - Educational attainment: 13% masters or higher, 20% bachelors, 33% some college, 33% high school or less

    Las Cruces is an affordable city with a median home value of $150,000, which allows a majority of residents to own their own homes. While the median household income remains a modest $40,924, there is a great range of public schools, outdoor activities, and amusements to keep families entertained.

    [Pictured: White Sands National Monument near Las Cruces, NM.]

  • #48. Albuquerque, NM

    - Population: 556,718
    - Median home value: $188,500 (60% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $833 (40% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $49,878
    - Educational attainment: 15% masters or higher, 19% bachelors, 32% some college, 34% high school or less

    While Albuquerque has regularly suffered from a high crime rate, New Mexico’s largest city showed the first decrease in overall crime in eight years, according to a report earlier this year. The city offers several fun cultural experiences, like the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, and Petroglyph National Monument. However, possibly the most magnificent tradition of Albuquerque is the International Balloon Fiesta every October, which draws tourists from around the world.

  • #47. Rio Rancho, NM

    - Population: 93,317
    - Median home value: $178,000 (78% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,118 (22% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $63,180
    - Educational attainment: 12% masters or higher, 18% bachelors, 38% some college, 31% high school or less

    The largest city in Sandoval County, Rio Rancho is a suburb of Albuquerque that offers moderately priced real estate and a good public school system. With several movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, and world-class shopping, it has a typical suburban feel with lots to do.

    [Pictured: Haynes Park in Rio Rancho, NM.]

  • #46. Norman, OK

    - Population: 119,820
    - Median home value: $169,700 (54% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $835 (46% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $53,733
    - Educational attainment: 18% masters or higher, 24% bachelors, 31% some college, 27% high school or less

    Home of the University of Oklahoma, Norman is a large suburb of Oklahoma City that is built for families. There is a big range of real estate with prices to fit almost every family’s budget. And with over 30 different public schools to choose from in the area, there are a good number of educational opportunities.

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    [Pictured: Medieval Fair Grounds in Norman, OK.]

  • #45. Tanque Verde, AZ

    - Population: 16,197
    - Median home value: $371,800 (92% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,688 (8% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $94,167
    - Educational attainment: 26% masters or higher, 28% bachelors, 29% some college, 18% high school or less

    Tanque Verde is in Pima County and is known for its rural-suburban feel. With a beautiful desert backdrop, this Tucson suburb offers plenty of outdoor activities to soak in the sights, including horseback riding, driving the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, or visiting Agua Caliente Park.

  • #44. Oro Valley, AZ

    - Population: 42,889
    - Median home value: $288,400 (75% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,138 (25% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $79,458
    - Educational attainment: 25% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 31% some college, 17% high school or less

    Oro Valley is consistently named one of the best places to raise a family in Arizona, and is considered one of the safest places to live in Arizona. Just outside of Tucson, Oro Valley’s schools rank in the top third in the state. With relatively affordable real estate and a variety of museums, it’s a family friendly place with a lot going for it.

     

  • #43. Owasso, OK

    - Population: 34,634
    - Median home value: $162,900 (69% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $951 (31% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $67,130
    - Educational attainment: 8% masters or higher, 25% bachelors, 35% some college, 33% high school or less

    A suburb of Tulsa, Owasso was ranked as one of the top 10 places to raise a family in Oklahoma in 2018, as well as #7 of the 15 best places to live in Oklahoma. Nearly half the Owasso population has kids, so naturally the town is geared toward families. And being close to Tulsa, residents can enjoy all the metro area’s attractions.

    [Pictured: Owasso Skatepark.]

  • #42. Chandler, AZ

    - Population: 245,160
    - Median home value: $268,000 (62% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,198 (38% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $77,278
    - Educational attainment: 16% masters or higher, 26% bachelors, 33% some college, 26% high school or less

    A suburb of Phoenix, Chandler was named one of the 10 best places to raise a family. With 330 days a year of sunshine, the city’s 60 parks and recreation centers add up to a lot of outdoor activities and family fun. The city also been named one of the most walkable cities by Prevention magazine and boasts the 6.5-mile Paseo Trail.

  • #41. Gilbert, AZ

    - Population: 232,176
    - Median home value: $286,400 (72% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,362 (28% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $87,566
    - Educational attainment: 15% masters or higher, 28% bachelors, 36% some college, 21% high school or less

    Within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, Gilbert is situated in the southeast valley. The population has grown rapidly, in 1985 with a population of about 5,000 to the current population of 232,176. And the Town of Gilbert still has growth potential. Although it has seen a rapid increase in the number of residents over the years, Gilbert still retains a quiet, small-town vibe and low crime levels.

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