Best Places to Live

2014 10 Best Cities for Kids

It’s only natural for parents to want what’s best for their kids and offer them every possible advantage. But depending on where you live, those advantages may be limited. Our picks for the Top 10 Best Cities for Kids give children opportunities to get a great education, live healthy lifestyles and engage in a multitude of activities with other kids.

To come up with our list of the best places for kids to live, we first identified cities with high concentrations of school-age children, then took a look at how their schools stacked up and analyzed health factors like childhood mortality rates, health insurance coverage, crime rates and access to healthy food options. We used rankings compiled on GreatSchools.org to help select places where schools are highly praised. Health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped us find cities where children are safe, eat well and receive excellent health care. Next, we considered cost of living. We weren’t trying to find the least expensive places to live, but rather communities where the average salary more than comfortably covered the cost of housing and most living expenses. We worked with Food Genius, a company that delivers big data and insight solutions to the food industry, to comb through its vast database and find the percentage of restaurants that feature kids' menus. That gave us a unique indication of how kid-friendly an area is.

Finally, we looked for cities with a lot of parks, playgrounds, libraries and recreational venues geared specifically for children. Many of the places we found are suburbs of larger cities that offer even more things to do, but these towns have their own school systems and offer a slower pace and small-town vibe.

Take a look at our picks for the best cities for kids.

*Photo courtesy of Don DeBold, available under a Creative Commons license.

Ranking Criteria
Percentage of households with school-age children
Environment
Crime rate
School ranking
Cost of living
Restaurants with kids' menus
  • 10

    Newton, MA

    Population: 87,675

    Courtesy of Newton Conservators.

    In some ways, Newton, MA, is like a giant school campus. Its 13 villages are seemingly built around elementary schools, which many students walk or bike to. Classic New England architecture, well-maintained parks and lavishly landscaped yards help connect neighborhoods in what many residents call “the garden city.” The community places a great deal of emphasis on education. More than 25 percent of all households here have school-age children. Newton schools are among the Boston area’s highest rated. Newton is home to Boston College, which supports local schools, while the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology often partners with area high schools.

    Field trips bring children to places where history was actually made, like Boston Harbor, the Jackson Homestead and the USS Constitution Museum. The Newton Free Library not only loans books and offers a variety of classes but also gives residents a chance to get passes to Boston area educational venues. Families who live in Newton do pay a high price, but they say the perks are worth it. Many of the city’s residents live in historic homes built in the late 1800s. Scenic Crystal Lake and the Charles River provide residents with swimming, boating and fishing opportunities. Locals don’t worry much about crime as the city’s crime rate is less than half of the average crime rate in the U.S.

    For mommies and daddies: Boston's red-hot nightlife scene is just 7 miles away.