Best county to raise a family in every state
Known in other parts of the world as shires, provinces, or territories, the United States’ counties (also known in certain states as boroughs or parishes) date back to the 1600s, when settlers first came to find freedom from British rule. Today, those counties remain, with the 50 states divided into several, each with its own unique makeup.
For couples looking to find a home to raise a family, the county they choose is an important decision. Most families place affordable homes, safe neighborhoods, a quality school system, and family-friendly activities at the top of their wishlists. After all, everyone wants a bit of the American dream.
Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to raise a family in every state using Niche 2020 rankings. Niche ranks counties by a variety of factors including income, housing, and public schools. More details on their methodology can be found here.
These 50 U.S. counties are the best places to raise a family. They feature the top schools in their respective states and fun, family-friendly activities for every season. From annual summer fairs to fall festivals, winter ski adventures, and spring bike rides, there is something to satisfy both parents and kids. Home to everything from the oldest Fourth of July Parade to the world’s largest space attraction, they are as diverse as the United States and the many families who call them home. Some lie along scenic coastlines, while others offer mountainous terrain. One county offers fishing villages surrounded by local wildlife. Another features a booming economy, thanks to the prosperous technology companies where many of its residents work. One New England county offers not only some of the best public schools in the state but also the best private boarding school in the country.
From east to west and north to south, join Stacker as we explore the best counties to raise a family. Maybe you’ll find one that suits your brood.
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Alabama: Madison County
- Population: 357,560
- Median household income: $63,417
Located in the scenic Tennessee Valley, Madison County, Alabama, offers affordable housing, and over 67% of its residents own their homes. In addition to the many family-friendly recreational activities provided by its access to the Tennessee River, including picnics, camping, and hiking, Madison County also has the world’s largest space attraction, The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.
Alaska: Kodiak Island Borough
- Population: 13,649
- Median household income: $78,281
For those who want to raise their families nestled in a tranquil Alaskan fishing village surrounded by local wildlife, Kodiak Island Borough may be the perfect home. With the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and over 3,000 Kodiak brown bears, the borough, situated in the Gulf of Alaska, also features the largest fishing port in the state. It also offers the best public schools of all 15 counties in Alaska, as well as many family activities including Salmon Camp, an award-winning science camp, and the Kodiak Crab Festival.
Arizona: Maricopa County
- Population: 4.3 million
- Median household income: $61,606
Maricopa County, Arizona, is the fastest growing county in the U.S. Offering those raising families over 120,000 acres of open space, it has one of the largest regional park systems in the country. With everything from well-known cities like Scottsdale and the county seat, Phoenix, to quaint towns with cool names like Carefree and Paradise Valley, and the ghost towns of Sundad and Vulture City, Maricopa County offers a little bit of everything. Families can also enjoy activities for all ages, including botanical gardens, mountains, and amusement parks.
Arkansas: Benton County
- Population: 258,980
- Median household income: $64,141
With a median household income higher than the national average and affordable homes, Benton County, Arkansas, is a great place to call home. The Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce calls the city of Bentonville the mountain biking capital of the world. It’s easy to spend quality family time in the great outdoors on scenic walking trails, in a drive-through wilderness safari, or exploring a local cave.
California: Santa Clara County
- Population: 1.9 million
- Median household income: $116,178
Home to Silicon Valley and many of the largest technology companies in the world, including Google, Apple, and Yahoo, Santa Clara County has a booming and robust economy. It’s not only a great place to work, but its top-notch public education system makes this a desirable place to raise a family. Santa Clara County also offers an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, from walkable urban centers with access to family-friendly shops and restaurants, to suburban residential areas with walking paths and playgrounds.
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Colorado: Douglas County
- Population: 328,614
- Median household income: $115,314
Of the 843 miles that make up Douglas County, 63,037 acres are permanently-protected land. It is truly a place for recreation, offering more than 146,000 acres for outdoor enthusiasts, including two state parks and a recreation area. With all the outdoor recreation opportunities and a low crime rate, it should come as no surprise that Douglas county ranked as the healthiest county in the state for the fourth consecutive year.
Connecticut: Fairfield County
- Population: 944,348
- Median household income: $92,969
Known as the Gold Coast, Fairfield County is home to several of the state's most-affluent communities including New Canaan and Darien. Though several films focusing on disillusionment about the American dream and family were filmed in Fairfield County, including “The Stepford Wives” and “The Ice Storm,” in truth it’s a wonderful place to raise a family. Its close proximity to New York City allows for unlimited employment and entertainment opportunities for all ages, though the county itself is home to four of the state’s largest cities, several major employers, and a wonderful public school system.
Delaware: New Castle County
- Population: 555,133
- Median household income: $70,996
New Castle County, Delaware, offers affordable homes and an above-average public school system. Known for its regional and recreational parks, the county offers many outdoor, family-friendly activities. Whether it’s enjoying the historic Rockwood Park & Museum, a family dog walk with Fido at the local "Bark Park," or catching up with the minor league baseball team, there is always something for families to do in New Castle County.
Florida: Seminole County
- Population: 455,086
- Median household income: $63,760
Home to the happiest place on Earth, Disney World, and the largest theme park, Walt Disney World Resorts, Seminole County is a fun place to raise a family. It isn’t just about family fun, though—Seminole County also provides affordable housing and excellent schools. With warm year-round temperatures and some of the best beaches in the state, it is a great place for families.
Georgia: Oconee County
- Population: 37,017
- Median household income: $88,308
In addition to affordable home prices and low crime rates, 83% of residents in Oconee County, Georgia, own their homes. Antiques, Clydesdale horses, rivers, and a historic covered bridge are some of the exciting family offerings in Oconee County.
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