Simply watching the news is enough to make anyone wonder if the city they live in or want to move to is suitable for raising a family. Safety is a factor, and the cost of living can significantly impact whether a city fits your needs. So let’s look at 20 of America’s worst cities to raise a family.
Worst Cities to Raise a Family Today
Each family has different needs for finding a friendly place where kids can thrive. Criteria can include the cost of living, education, social factors, and more. Many statistics in this article came from and can be researched further on LivingCost.org, NeighborhoodScout.com (crime) and OpenDataNetwork.com (education and more).
These 20 are some of the worst places you can raise a family today in the US:
20. Detroit, MI
When it comes to ensuring your child gets a good education, Detroit can be tricky. But, if you have a student who loves school, shows up to learn, and stays on track from kindergarten to high school graduation, you may have one of a small group who makes it, according to Fox 2 Detroit.
The city also battles crime and socioeconomic barriers that can harm any family. Although the city has many parks for kids and families to enjoy, safety and good education are a must for most families.
19. Worcester, MA
Nothing will be safe or comfortable when coping with a high cost of living, especially when you struggle to make ends meet. According to LivingCost.org, this city can claim to be in the top 6% of cities that are the most expensive to live – in the world.
Weather can be an issue in Worcester as well. Unless your family thrives in cold, snowy conditions, there can be many months when outdoor activities aren’t possible.
18. Miami, FL
When it comes to being kid-friendly, Miami doesn’t really fit the bill. It’s a city loaded with entertainment and nightlife geared for adults. Miami does have 147 parks and gardens to enjoy, but only a fraction of them have playgrounds for kids.
According to NeighborhoodScout.com, Miami has one of the nation’s highest crime rates. So even if you head out to the beach or parks, with the abysmal crime rates, Miami is one of the worst cities to raise a family.
17. Chicago, IL
While the crime rate in this city isn’t the worst in the country, it’s still high. NeighborhoodScout.com reports that Chicago’s crime rate is better than Miami’s by only 1%.
If the crime rate isn’t enough to deter families looking for a safe home, it’s an expensive city. Numbeo.com reports that it costs around $3,974 monthly for a family of four to live in the windy city. This number doesn’t include a mortgage or rent, making it pretty pricey.
16. Baltimore, MD
Baltimore has some startling crime statistics. It’s listed as a city that is safer than only 3% of cities in the US.
Kids can get a good education in this city, but the statistics on Opendatanetwork.com state that just under 20% of high school students graduate. 4½% go on to get an associate’s degree, and almost 27% graduate from college.
The cost of living for a family of four is $4,789, according to LivingCost.org. This includes rent or mortgage, so it’s better than some other cities.
15. New York City, NY
The Big Apple has had a rough reputation that is well-deserved in some areas. Living in this city comes at a high price. LivingCost.org reports it costs a family of four around $6524, including their rent in NYC. Without rent, a family pays $3,474 monthly, meaning rent can cost $3,000!
Educational opportunities vary widely throughout the city. You can search Infohub.com for graduation rates throughout the city, including boroughs and districts.
Just like education, crime varies across the city. The NYC.gov website says, “For January 2023, the number of overall shooting incidents and murders in New York City have both declined when compared to January 2022…” and is a result of the NYPD’s enhanced public safety initiative. While this is encouraging, it’s best to check the area you’re considering living in for current statistics.
14. Tucson, AZ
The cost of living will be too much for some families in Tucson. Rent and utilities cost a family of four around $1200 per month. This can be tough with the cost of living averaging $2263 and the take-home pay of $4105 after taxes for a family of the same size.
PublicSchoolReview.com reports an average of 15 students per 1 teacher. With a graduation rate that hovers around 80%, that leaves something to be desired regarding your child’s education.
Finally, the crime rate in this city is only safer than 3% of other cities. So if you’re looking for safety, this might not be the city for you.
13. Boston, MA
There’s no denying that Boston is a beautiful city with a deep and rich history. But, unfortunately, modern-day Boston might be too expensive for a growing family.
Livingcost.org lists the cost of living for a family of four, including rent, to be $6,816 monthly. The average monthly salary after taxes is $5,331. This means most households can’t afford to live in the city on a single income.
Crime stats for Boston fare better than some other cities on this list, but it’s still not great. This city is safer than 16% of other US cities, according to NeighborhoodScout.com.
BostonPublicSchools.org’s most recent stats put the entire student body graduation rate at 73.2% in 2019. So while your child might get a good education, the schools must raise their education completion number.
12. Newark, NJ
Formerly known as the “Stolen Car Capital of the World,” Newark currently seems to have better numbers for grand theft auto. NeighborhoodScout.com rates the city 24% safer than others, but property crimes still need work. Residents have a property crime rate of 14.31 victims out of 1,000 residents.
The cost of living in Newark seems reasonable for most people unless you want to be a single-income family. The monthly cost of living for four people is around $4,180, including rent. Yet the average monthly salary after taxes is around $2,425.
Graduation rates for the school district in Newark are around 70%, leaving about 30% of the students dropping out or not finishing high school. OpenDataNetwork.com also has low rates for those completing their Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees.
11. Dallas, TX
Dallas has a higher high school graduation rate than some other cities on this list, but it still has room for improvement. OpenDataNetwork.com lists the city as having a rate of about 74%.
The cost of living can make some tight budgets for residents, according to LivingCost.org. Monthly costs for a family of four comes to just under $6,000. Most people make an average of $5,400 after taxes each month, making a 2-income household mandatory.
Unfortunately, Dallas is safer than a mere 4% of other cities. Property crimes are out of control, violating over 36 people per 1,000 residents.
10. San Bernardino, CA
BestPlaces.net says San Bernardino is well above the national average for violent and property crimes. They rate on a scale with 1 being the lowest crime and 100 being the highest crime. Violent crime ranked at 56.9, and property crime came in at 60.5.
The city is also expensive. A family of four has an average monthly cost of living of $4,189 and a monthly salary of $2334 after taxes. So even with a two-income household, it would be tough to make ends meet.
Education statistics aren’t as alarming as some other cities on this list, according to USNews.com. The high school graduation rate is about 77%, with a college readiness of only 26 on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being completely ready).
9. Memphis, TN
The cost of living for a family of four in Memphis is better than many cities on this list. The monthly cost, including rent or a mortgage, is around $3787, according to LivingCost.org. Monthly salaries after tax average around $4840, making it more affordable than many cities!
Unfortunately, NeighboorhoodScout.com states that Memphis is at the top of the list for crime compared to all other cities. The city sees almost 16,000 violent crimes and 35,000 property crimes per year. Families may want to avoid living in this city because of the crime statistics alone.
OpenDataNetwork.com reports better-than-most graduation rates on this list. The rate is 82 ½ %. In addition, around ¼ of graduates earn some degree of higher education.
8. Portland, OR
The cost of living in Portland is high. A family of four costs approximately $5,627, including rent per month, while the average monthly income after taxes is $4,621. Just at a glance, it’s clear that a family will need multiple incomes to make ends meet.
Education is actually not too bad. OPB.org reported that Portland’s graduation rate increased by 1.3% to 85.7% in 2022.
In late 2022, NPR.org posted a story about how the apparent rising crime rate has been on the rise, especially for business owners. It’s no surprise since Neighborhoodscout.com has Portland as safer than only 1% of all the cities in the US. Raising a family here may be downright scary.
7. Providence, RI
Making ends meet for any family can be challenging, but it’s down to the small change for families who live in Providence, RI. If you and your spouse have two kids, your estimated cost of living with rent/mortgage totals around $4,099. The monthly average income after taxes is about $4,276, making saving or unexpected expenses hard on a family.
Crime isn’t bad, but it isn’t great in Providence. NeighborhoodScount.com reports that Providence is safer than 11% of the cities in the US. Since there are over 100,000 cities overall, the city can do better.
6. Cleveland, OH
Crime is the most significant deterrent to families considering moving to Cleveland. They are ranked as being safer than only 2% of the nation’s cities. While there are safer areas to live around the city, it’s still something that should be seriously considered before making your move.
The cost of living is better than in some other cities. Livingcost.org lists a family of four costs per month is around $4,191. Monthly paychecks after taxes are an estimated $4,516, giving a family a small amount to save whenever possible.
Cleveland’s graduation rate aligns with many other cities here, with 77.40% of graduates yearly. However, the college graduation rates leave something to be desired. Almost 6% obtain their associate’s degree, while about 15% get their bachelor’s degree.
5. Shreveport, LA
A combination of crime and cost of living makes Shreveport a less-than-ideal place to raise a family. LivingCost.org reports that two parents and children will pay, on average, $3,092 monthly, including housing. The average monthly income after taxes for one person is about the same amount you’ll pay for your cost of living, making it impossible to save or get ahead.
The crime rate is only better than 3% of all US cities. Some believe there’s a direct link between poverty and crime, so the high cost of living can’t help the situation.
Education is where Shreveport shines. The city has a reported graduation rate of 85.80%, with over 30% of graduates completing their associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
4. Riverside, CA
Without even considering education and crime, Riverside is too expensive for anyone planning to have kids or who already has a family. LivingCost.org has a family of four costing around $5695 per month while making an average of $3492 in income after taxes. The math is clear – you need to earn big bucks to buy or rent here.
Even though people pay a pretty penny to live here, the crime rate isn’t all that great. Riverside is only safer than 5% of other cities. If you’re going to pay a lot to live anywhere, make sure your crime rate is as low as possible.
Regarding education, the graduation rate from OpenDataNetwork.com lists the high school graduation rate as 79.60%. Although almost 30% of those graduates are likely to go on and earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
3. Santa Rosa, CA
Unless they have a high-paying job, it isn’t likely that many families can afford to live in Santa Rosa. LivingCost.org reports that the average person’s monthly salary after taxes comes in around $3,550. So if they want to support a spouse and a couple of children, they’ll need to bring in $6115 a month.
One would hope that the cost of living would give the city a low crime rate, but that’s not the case. NeighborhoodScout.com ranks Santa Rosa as safer than only 18% of cities in the country. That’s not that great, especially considering what it costs to live there in the first place.
Education appears to be average, with a ratio of 22 students per teacher, according to USNews.com. It also reports the graduation rate to be 86%. Yet again, one would hope to see better numbers with the money it takes to live there.
2. Los Angeles, CA
In Los Angeles, the cost of living is outrageously disproportionate to the average person’s monthly income after tax of $5,327. LivingCost.org says that living expenses, including rent, are $6,193 monthly if you have a spouse and a couple of kids. For many families, it would be impossible to afford to live in LA.
Crime is also an issue in the city, especially since COVID. Xtown.la reports an 11.6% increase in overall crime in 2022. NeighborhoodScout.com has LA listed as being 9% safer than other US cities.
One of the things Los Angeles can be proud of is that Bonita High School has a greater than 99% graduation rate, according to PublicSchoolReview.com. Overall, the graduation rate is 82%, leaving room for improvement elsewhere.
1. Denver, CO
Many people love living in Denver, but it isn’t a great place for families to raise children. In early 2023, Fox31News reported that Denver topped the Scholaroo report as an unfriendly city for children.
The report considered several factors, including health care, cost of living, crime, and more. While Denver wasn’t the lowest rated across the board, the combined factors made it the worst for family-friendliness. If one area really impacted the ranking, it was affordability.
The cost of living in Denver, CO, for a family of four is $5694, according to LivingCost.org. A single income averages about $5420, lower than the overall cost of living. So if you’re considering growing your family and want to be a one-income household, you may want to steer clear of Denver.
You Decide What City Is Best for Your Family
It’s easy to let statistics guide you in deciding where to raise your family. But there are other considerations, including living near family, having access to the medical support you need, and more to guide you to your final decision.
One of the best things you can do is talk to people living in the city you’re thinking of calling home. Combined with the statistical data, people’s personal experiences should help you develop a firm grasp on the community you’re considering joining.
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Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson