The 25 Best Places to Live for Families in the U.S. in 2021-2022

What are the best metro areas for families?

Moving to a new part of the country can be a daunting task, especially if you’re moving your entire family. To help you find the right metro area for raising your kids, we started with the Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings for 2021-2022, then weighted affordability, quality of life and job market equally. These scores combine to make the Best Places to Live for Families, taking into consideration not only the cost of living and average annual salary, but also the quality of high school education, average commute time, crime rate, the area’s overall well-being and access to top-notch health care.

25. Lansing, Michigan

Best Places 2021-2022: 64

Metro Population:546,772

Metro Size: 1,714.6 square miles

Median Home Price: $157,267

Average Annual Salary: $51,040

Lansing is a fairly small metro area, which helps keep the cost of living low, but as Michigan’s state capital and the home of Michigan State University, the Lansing metro area offers plenty of job opportunities in government and higher education, plus regular entertainment and attractions. Lansing area residents spend just 21.25% of the area’s median household income on housing costs, including mortgage payments, rent, utilities and property taxes.

Learn more about Lansing.

24. Peoria, Illinois

Best Places 2021-2022: 87

Metro Population: 406,883

Metro Size: 3,333.5 square miles

Median Home Price: $126,000

Average Annual Salary: $52,790

Located in the center of the state along the Illinois River, Peoria may be on your radar more if you’re looking for a small Midwestern metro area to work in health care or agricultural tech or manufacturing. A big plus to living in Peoria is the low cost of living: Peoria is the 11th-most affordable place to live out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list.

Learn more about Peoria.

23. Syracuse, New York

Best Places 2021-2022: 63

Metro Population: 652,416

Metro Size: 2,384.9 square miles

Median Home Price: $181,491

Average Annual Salary: $52,140

Families looking to put down roots in upstate New York have a couple options on this list. Syracuse residents spend 20.83% of the median household income to cover housing costs, which makes the metro area one of the more affordable options in the Northeast. With an average morning commute of just 21.3 minutes, working parents also get to spend a bit more time at home than in many other parts of the country.

Learn more about Syracuse.

22. Albany, New York

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 45

Metro Population: 880,736

Metro Size: 2,811.7 square miles

Median Home Price: $278,708

Average Annual Salary: $55,860

Albany’s average monthly unemployment rate in 2020 was 7.2%, nearly a full percentage point below the national average of 8.1%. Additionally, Albany’s average annual salary, at $55,860, is more than $2,000 above the national average. Albany’s crime rates are well below average, with just over four murders per 100,000 people and less than 1,200 property crimes per 100,000 people in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Learn more about Albany.

21. Kalamazoo, Michigan

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 51

Metro Population: 262,745

Metro Size: 562 square miles

Median Home Price: $161,050

Average Annual Salary: $48,230

This western Michigan metro area is in a less-populated part of the state, which helps keep the cost of living low. Kalamazoo residents spend 20.39% of the median annual household income on housing costs. There is plenty of access to quality health care, as Kalamazoo ranks first out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its proximity to hospitals that score highly in the Best Hospitals ranking, tied with Ann Arbor, Michigan; Reading, Pennsylvania; York, Pennsylvania; and Trenton, New Jersey.

Learn more about Kalamazoo.

20. Boise, Idaho

Best Places 2021-2022: 11

Metro Population: 710,743

Metro Size: 11,766.6 square miles

Median Home Price: $221,475

Average Annual Salary: $47,170

Boise offers an affordable cost of living compared to many other parts of the country, a relatively steady job market, low crime, quality high schools and a short morning commute. But these benefits haven’t gone unnoticed — the Boise metro area is growing fast. Between 2015 and 2019, the metro area’s population increased by 7.6% due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Boise.

19. Hartford, Connecticut

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 53

Metro Population: 1,207,677

Metro Size: 1,514.6 square miles

Median Home Price: $327,006

Average Annual Salary: $62,900

Hartford’s average annual salary of $62,900 means you’re likely to bring more money home to your family. While the cost of living in Hartford is a bit higher than in some metro areas on this list, it’s still low for New England, requiring 23.35% of the median household income. Additionally, Hartford’s average monthly unemployment rate in 2020 was 7.7%, slightly lower than the national average unemployment rate of 8.1%.

Learn more about Hartford.

18. San Jose, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 36

Metro Population: 1,987,846

Metro Size: 2,679.7 square miles

Median Home Price: $1,302,188

Average Annual Salary: $83,960

If quality education is a priority, you can’t go wrong living in the San Jose metro area, which ties for the No. 1 spot with Boulder, Colorado, out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness among high school students. However, the good schools come at a cost, with residents spending a larger share of the median annual household income on the cost of living. Plus, the median home price is more than $1.3 million.

Learn more about San Jose.

17. Cincinnati

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 44

Metro Population: 2,201,741

Metro Size: 4,546.2 square miles

Median Home Price: $303,914

Average Annual Salary: $51,410

The cost of living in Cincinnati requires just 20.25% of the median annual household income, which helps families and individuals keep more money for basic needs and discretionary spending. Looking at quality of life data, Cincinnati scores best for its college readiness among high school students, based on data from the U.S. News Best High Schools ranking. In fact, Cincinnati ranks above 99 other metro areas on the Best Places to Live list in this category.

Learn more about Cincinnati.

16. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Best Places 2021-2022: 33

Metro Population: 510,647

Metro Size: 1,469.9 square miles

Median Home Value: $226,608*

Average Annual Salary: $45,430

Requiring just 20.68% of the area’s median household income to cover the cost of living, Lexington-Fayette is the 19th-most affordable place to live out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. High school students also benefit from being within the top 50 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for college readiness.

Learn more about Lexington-Fayette.

(*The median home price was unavailable, so median home value is provided.)

15. Portland, Maine

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 8

Metro Population: 532,075

Metro Size: 2,081 square miles

Median Home Price: $310,300

Average Annual Salary: $52,820

In the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index, which surveys residents in metro areas across the U.S. about their sense of security, overall happiness and community pride, Portland ranked 24th out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list. Portland also has consistently low rates of property crime and murder, according to FBI data. Maine experienced just 22 homicides in the entire state in 2020. Additionally, Portland’s average annual salary is just shy of the national average at $52,280.

Learn more about Portland.

14. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 34

Metro Population: 1,062,392

Metro Size: 2,689 square miles

Median Home Price: $296,730

Average Annual Salary: $47,010

Grand Rapids residents spend just 19.84% of the area’s median annual household income on housing. Additionally, Grand Rapids ranks 13th for quality of life on the overall Best Places to Live list — in part for its low crime, college readiness score among high school students and average morning commute of just 21.8 minutes.

Learn more about Grand Rapids.

13. Salt Lake City

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 23

Metro Population: 2,480,709

Metro Size: 7,684 square miles

Median Home Price: $458,230

Average Annual Salary: $50,103

Salt Lake City is known as a family-friendly metro area, and the median age of just 30.5 years shows how large of a role children and young people play in the makeup of the area. Additionally, Salt Lake City residents benefit from an average commute of just 22.6 minutes, much shorter than the national average of 26.9 minutes.

Learn more about Salt Lake City.

12. Washington, D.C.

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 28

Metro Population: 6,196,585

Metro Size: 6,567.6 square miles

Median Home Price: $521,277

Average Annual Salary: $72,600

As the largest metro area on this list, the District of Columbia offers high-quality high school options — the metro areas ranks No. 12 in college readiness based on Best High Schools data. Plus, the plethora of federal government and government contractor jobs, in addition to a growing tech industry in the area, lead to a high average annual salary of $72,600. Naturally, the trade-off comes in the form of a long commute, as residents should expect to spend, on average, 35 minutes traveling between home and work.

Learn more about Washington, D.C.

11. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 2

Metro Population: 1,959,006

Metro Size: 4,660.3 square miles

Median Home Price: $329,709

Average Annual Salary: $56,888

Families living in the Raleigh and Durham metro area benefit from a high average annual salary of $56,888 and its relatively low average monthly unemployment rate in 2020 of 6.4%. The average morning commute time in the Raleigh and Durham area is 26 minutes. Residents can expect to spend 20.94% of the area’s median annual household income on housing expenses.

Learn more about Raleigh and Durham.

10. Lincoln, Nebraska

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 29

Metro Population: 330,329

Metro Size: 1,409 square miles

>Median Home Price: $192,000

Average Annual Salary: $48,210

The capital of Nebraska takes the No. 10 spot with a cost of living that requires just 21% of the area’s median annual household income. Lincoln also ranks 39th out of the 150 metro areas on the list in the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index for overall happiness among residents. One contributing factor to that happiness may be the fact that the average morning commute is short at 19.3 minutes.

Learn more about Lincoln.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 27

Metro Population: 3,573,609

Metro Size: 7,047.6 square miles

Median Home Price: $237,367

Average Annual Salary: $59,310

Families considering a move to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area can expect to find many quality high school options and low cost of living. Residents spend 21.04% of the median annual household income on housing costs. Additionally, the average annual salary is high at $59,310. Minneapolis-St. Paul high school students rank 36th among those in the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Minneapolis-St. Paul.

8. Omaha, Nebraska

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 25

Metro Population: 931,779

Metro Size: 4,345.9 square miles

Median Home Price: $303,980

Average Annual Salary: $50,550

This Nebraska metro area had an average monthly unemployment rate of just 4.8% in 2020, well below the national average of 8.1%. Combined with a short average commute of 20.5 minutes and a cost of living requiring just 20.42% of the area’s median annual household income, Omaha parents spend little time getting to work and keep more of the money they earn for their family.

Learn more about Omaha.

7. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 21

Metro Population: 319,401

Metro Size: 1,870 square miles

Median Home Price: $181,700

Average Annual Salary: $47,400

In Green Bay, families are able to save more money for other needs, as the cost of living requires just 19.83% of the area’s median household income. The Wisconsin metro area also ranks No. 22 out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its low rates of property crime and murder. On top of that, the average morning commute is just 20 minutes.

Learn more about Green Bay.

6. Des Moines, Iowa

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 13

Metro Population: 680,439

Metro Size: 3,612.4 square miles

Median Home Price: $273,134

Average Annual Salary: $52,890

Ranking No. 13 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Des Moines is the sixth-best place to live for families in 2021-2022. The low cost of living in this Midwestern metro area ensures just 19.71% of the median household income is required for housing needs. While college readiness is a weak spot for the metro area, ranking 107th out of 150 in that category, a relatively strong job market and a short average commute lead to Des Moines taking the sixth spot.

Learn more about Des Moines.

5. Madison, Wisconsin

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 16

Metro Population: 653,725

Metro Size: 3,308.8 square miles

Median Home Price: $348,940

Average Annual Salary: $54,300

Madison residents spend a bit more on housing than other metro areas on the list, but the benefits may outweigh the cost. Low crime rates compared to the national average, high scores among high school students showing college readiness and an average morning commute of just 21.9 minutes make many families happy to call Madison home. Plus, the average annual salary is slightly above the national average at $54,300.

Learn more about Madison.

4. Boulder, Colorado

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 1

Metro Population: 322,510

Metro Size: 726.4 square miles

Median Home Price: $528,833

Average Annual Salary: $67,160

Taking the No. 1 spot in the overall Best Places to Live ranking, Boulder is the fourth-best place to live for families in 2021-2022. Many residents of the Boulder area are employed in the aerospace and bioscience fields, contributing to a high average salary of $67,160. Boulder ties for the top spot with San Jose for college readiness among high school students. Boulder ranks fifth out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. on the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index.

Learn more about Boulder.

3. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 4

Metro Population: 514,259

Metro Size: 2,624.1 square miles

Median Home Price: $203,150

Average Annual Salary: $47,600

A low cost of living is easy to find in this northwest Arkansas metro area. With residents spending just 19.97% of the area’s median household income on housing, Fayetteville is the 10th-most affordable place to live out of the 150 metro areas in the Best Places to Live ranking. Another bonus: More spare time can be spent at home before and after work, as the average commute is just 20.9 minutes.

Learn more about Fayetteville.

2. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 12

Metro Population: 367,000

Metro Size: 706 square miles

Median Home Price: $270,567

Average Annual Salary: $56,370

Ann Arbor ties for the No. 1 spot out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. with Kalamazoo, Michigan; Reading, Pennsylvania; York, Pennsylvania; and Trenton, New Jersey, for proximity to quality health care. College readiness among Ann Arbor’s high school students is third out of the 150 metro areas on the list. Ann Arbor is also a spot to consider for those whose kids have left the nest, as it ranks No. 7 on the Best Places to Retire list.

Learn more about Ann Arbor.

1. Huntsville, Alabama

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 3

Metro Population: 457,003

Metro Size: 1,361.5 square miles

Median Home Price: $192,667

Average Annual Salary: $55,980

Not only is Huntsville’s median annual salary, at $55,980, above the national average of $53,490, but residents spend just 18.82% of the median annual household income on the cost of living — making it the most affordable metro area out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. Huntsville’s average monthly unemployment rate for 2020, at 4.6%, was more than 3 percentage points below the national rate of 8.1%.

Learn more about Huntsville.

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Families:

— Huntsville, Alabama.

— Ann Arbor, Michigan.

— Fayetteville, Arkansas.

— Boulder, Colorado.

— Madison, Wisconsin.

— Des Moines, Iowa.

— Green Bay, Wisconsin.

— Omaha, Nebraska.

— Minneapolis-St. Paul.

— Lincoln, Nebraska.

— Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina.

— Washington, D.C.

— Salt Lake City.

— Grand Rapids, Michigan.

— Portland, Maine.

— Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky.

— Cincinnati.

— San Jose, California.

— Hartford, Connecticut.

— Boise, Idaho.

— Kalamazoo, Michigan.

— Albany, New York.

— Syracuse, New York.

— Peoria, Illinois.

— Lansing, Michigan.

More from U.S. News

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The 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022

The 25 Best Places to Live for Families in the U.S. in 2021-2022 originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 08/05/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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