Best small towns to raise a family in every state
There’s something about living in a small town, whether it be the sense of community, lack of crowded spaces, more options for outdoor fun, low crime, or just a less hectic daily pace. Now, perhaps more than ever, families are embracing the idea of small-town life, moving out of bigger cities as they look for a quieter, slower, and perhaps safer place to raise their children.
During the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, there seemed to be a mass exodus from urban areas to more rural communities. Some families moved to be closer to relatives, some moved for jobs (or because they were now working remotely and didn’t need to live in the city), and some simply wanted to be where there were fewer people. According to a study conducted by MYMOVE, data collected from the U.S. Postal Service indicated that nearly 16 million people have filed mail change-of-address requests in 2020, up almost 4% from 2019. And while many of these moves are temporary as families regroup and consider their options for the future, escaping the city for a more relaxing suburban vibe sounds pretty appealing right now.
If you’re looking to relocate to a smaller town, you might not have to go too far, because Stacker has rounded up a comprehensive list of the best small towns to raise a family in every state. Using 2020 data from Niche, which ranks places based on a variety of factors including public schools, jobs, and cost of living, we took a look at what makes these small towns so special and why people live there (you can read more on Niche’s methodology here). Only towns with a population under 40,000 were considered.
Take a look to see which small town in your state is the best for raising a family.
You may also like: Best counties for retirees in America
- Population: 25,595
- Median home value: $333,600 (62% own)
- Median rent: $1,090 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $77,269
Located in Jefferson County, Homewood offers residents excellent public schools, lots of green space, and no shortage of shopping and dining. The city of Birmingham is just a few miles away, providing even more opportunities to explore fine dining and shopping, check out one of the 17 public golf courses, or attend one of the city’s many festivals and cultural events. Niche gives every Homewood public school an A+ or A and rates the town as the #1 suburb for young professionals in Alabama.
- Population: 13,709
- Median home value: $244,100 (61% own)
- Median rent: $1,329 (39% rent)
- Median household income: $89,072
College is part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is located just outside of the city of Fairbanks. Residents here enjoy a wealth of outdoor activities, from hiking and camping in the summer to cross-country skiing in the winter. College was also ranked #1 for best places to live in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and #3 for best public schools in Alaska.
Arizona: Corona de Tucson
- Population: 8,326
- Median home value: $222,800 (91% own)
- Median rent: $1,396 (9% rent)
- Median household income: $93,542
Tucked inside Pima County is Corona de Tucson, a rural suburban town located about 30 miles outside of Tucson. The region is part of the Vail School district, and Niche gives all nine of the area's public schools high ratings. Corona de Tucson is also ranked #1 for best place to buy a house in Arizona and #1 for best suburb to buy a house in the state.
Arkansas: Cave Springs
- Population: 3,881
- Median home value: $295,200 (94% own)
- Median rent: $1,138 (6% rent)
- Median household income: $114,286
Cave Springs, a suburb in Benton County, not only ranks highly for best places to raise a family but also makes the grade among best places to buy a house in Arkansas and places with the best public schools in Arkansas. Crime is low here, employment rates are good, and the cost of living is reasonable. People who live here say they love the small-town feel and welcoming atmosphere.
California: Rolling Hills
- Population: 1,630
- Median home value: $2,000,000 (96% own)
- Median rent: $3,501 (4% rent)
- Median household income: $239,375
A suburb of Los Angeles, Rolling Hills is located just outside the city, making it easily accessible for commuters, as well as being close to shopping and dining. The public schools here all earned an A+ grade from Niche, and the majority of homes sit on at least one acre, with zoning for horses. Rolling Hills was also ranked #1 for best suburbs to raise a family in California.
You may also like: Best places to retire in the Midwest
Colorado: Holly Hills
- Population: 2,909
- Median home value: $426,500 (93% own)
- Median rent: $2,634 (7% rent)
- Median household income: $136,176
A suburb of Denver, Holly Hills is a small community with a population of just under 3,000. People who live here cite the excellent public schools, proximity to downtown Denver, and friendly neighborhoods among the reasons they love it. Holly Hills is also close to the Denver Light Rail route, which makes traveling in and out of the city very convenient.
Connecticut: Old Greenwich
- Population: 6,819
- Median home value: $1,493,900 (83% own)
- Median rent: $2,488 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $233,519
Despite its Connecticut address in Fairfield County, Old Greenwich is actually considered a suburb of New York City. With a population of less than 7,000, the city maintains a suburban vibe while also offering a wide range of options in dining, shopping, and outdoor activities. Old Greenwich also made the top 10 for best public schools in Connecticut and the #1 suburb to raise a family.
Delaware: Pike Creek
- Population: 8,312
- Median home value: $338,200 (86% own)
- Median rent: $1,748 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $114,865
Pike Creek is part of New Castle County, about an hour’s drive from the city of Philadelphia and just 5 miles from Newark, Delaware, home to the University of Delaware campus. In addition to its high rankings for the best place to raise a family, Niche ranks Pike Creek #1 for best suburbs for young professionals, and the very best place to live in Delaware.
- Population: 13,266
- Median home value: $371,300 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,689 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $115,250
Located just outside Jacksonville and part of St. Johns County, Nocatee has a small population of less than 14,000 people, highly rated schools, and good employment rates. A master-planned community, Nocatee residents have access to outdoor recreation such as golf courses, beaches, and parks, as well as a variety of restaurants and shopping.
- Population: 23,054
- Median home value: $466,800 (66% own)
- Median rent: $927 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $93,039
The city of Decatur offers a hybrid urban/suburban feel while also being conveniently close to downtown Atlanta. Families who live here say they love the friendly people and assorted retail and dining options, as well as the town’s proximity to entertainment in Atlanta. Decatur is also ranked the #1 place to live in Georgia and the state’s best suburb in which to live.
You may also like: Best places to raise a family in the Southwest