Best small towns to raise a family
Big city living isn't for everyone, with many people preferring the slower pace and relative predictability of planned communities and suburban living. Small towns often offer easy commutes into big cities without the high property value or rents of urban downtowns..
If you’re looking for a comfy place to start a family, and you’re ready to embrace home ownership over apartment broker’s fees and monthly rent, we’ve done the dirty work in searching out the top places to start anew. Stacker compiled a list of the best small towns to raise a family in every state using 2020 data from Niche. Niche ranks places based on a variety of factors, including public schools, jobs, and cost of living. Towns with a population under 40,000 were considered. You can read more on their methodology here.
How does a town outside of Chicago known for Hollywood flicks like “Home Alone” and other classic John Hughes movies sound to you? If you’re more a fan of “The Sopranos,” northern New Jersey has several top options. Then again, if you’re not a cinephile, there are plenty of posh locations in the Midwest with famous golf courses, nature trails, and museums to entice young families.
Many of these towns have tons of history, with some dating back to the Revolutionary War. Others are known for their role in some of America’s biggest sporting events. If comparing data is more important to you, for each slide we included the population, median home value, median rent, and median household income.
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#100. Franklin, Michigan
- Population: 3,332
- Median home value: $586,200 (94% own)
- Median rent: $1,817 (6% rent)
- Median household income: $154,079
Franklin calls itself “The Town That Time Forgot,” and a trip to this Detroit suburb can fill one with nostalgia. Small businesses line downtown, and historic cider mills are only a short drive away.
#99. Belmont, Massachusetts
- Population: 26,043
- Median home value: $813,200 (64% own)
- Median rent: $1,903 (36% rent)
- Median household income: $120,208
Belmont’s first settlers arrived in 1639; for almost 400 years, families have put down roots in this town close to Boston. Belmont has a proud railroad history and has traditionally been known as a landing spot for artists, scientists, and other academics.
#98. Clyde Hill, Washington
- Population: 3,295
- Median home value: $2,000,000 (88% own)
- Median rent: $2,761 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $212,396
Clyde Hill runs on the elbow grease of small businesses like the Queen Bee Cafe—if you crave Starbucks, Seattle is only a few miles away. The town is a hidden oasis in the shadow of Seattle—it’s where Mariners star Felix Hernandez and other big leaguers have called home for many years.
#97. Brambleton, Virginia
- Population: 20,081
- Median home value: $576,600 (82% own)
- Median rent: $2,219 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $176,517
Although Brambleton is less than 20 years old, this planned community shows big promise. Brambleton Town Center is a major shopping center in the Beltway, and Brambleton is just a short drive to Washington Dulles International Airport.
#96. Wildwood, Missouri
- Population: 35,517
- Median home value: $372,000 (92% own)
- Median rent: $1,186 (8% rent)
- Median household income: $132,221
This St. Louis County enclave is known for its nature trails and Babler State Park. The Wildwood 2020 plan calls for green energy initiatives, highway improvements, and other accommodations with families in mind. Big Chief Roadhouse is a popular, kitschy restaurant that back in its U.S. Route 66 heyday, allegedly hosted Babe Ruth and Al Capone.
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#95. Scarsdale, New York
- Population: 17,805
- Median home value: $1,445,400 (91% own)
- Median rent: $2,965 (9% rent)
- Median household income: $250,001
Located in Westchester County, Scarsdale is a short drive or train ride to New York City. Scarsdale’s roots date back before the American Revolution and the town boasts accomplished past residents like James Fenimore Cooper, author of the first American novel, and astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, the first Jewish-American man in space.
#94. Ridgewood, New Jersey
- Population: 25,269
- Median home value: $738,700 (78% own)
- Median rent: $1,996 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $168,608
Ridgewood is a quick commute over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. The famed Ridgewood Country Club is actually in Paramus, but only minutes outside Ridgewood’s border. Ridgewood is implementing a master plan called “Our Village, Our Future” to foster sustainable growth in the 21st century.
#93. Cape Elizabeth, Maine
- Population: 9,279
- Median home value: $408,800 (87% own)
- Median rent: $1,191 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $111,884
Cape Elizabeth is a picturesque town on the Atlantic Ocean, known for several classic lighthouses and holding the Beach to Beacon 10K race. Located near Portland, this town is known for schools whose students annually rank among the highest in the state on academic achievement tests.
#92. East Hills, New York
- Population: 7,113
- Median home value: $1,012,200 (99% own)
- Median rent: $1,768 (1% rent)
- Median household income: $207,578
This Long Island village is home to a state of the art park that has water slides, sports facilities, and nature walks. The Nassau County Museum of Art is a short drive away, as is a Long Island Rail Road station with service to New York City.
#91. Allendale, New Jersey
- Population: 6,762
- Median home value: $710,600 (85% own)
- Median rent: $1,921 (15% rent)
- Median household income: $158,977
Allendale is just a few miles west of Ridgewood, but still a short drive into Manhattan. Allendale’s business district has not changed much physically since the 1930s, maintaining a rustic charm to this small town. Allendale also boasts the Celery Farm, a 107-acre protected wetland with more than 200 bird species.
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