Best Places to Live

2016 10 Best Places to Raise a Family

Many of the key reasons Americans move revolve around doing what’s best for their families. We move at certain key stages – as we get married, as we have kids, as our kids become old enough for school, and as our kids head off to college.

The communities we choose to live in as we raise children are arguably the most important, as they tend to be some of the places we live the longest. Thus, Livability created this 10 Best Cities for Families list to offer some great examples of metros that truly stand out as great places to raise your kids.

We crunched the data. We looked at the quality of the schools, the crime rate, and measures of the quality of healthcare and economy. We gave points to communities that are walkable, diverse, have lots of parks and active children’s sections in their libraries. We favored communities with shorter commute times (so working parents can be home more and on the road less) and larger populations of other kids to play with.

As with all of our Top 10 lists, our data-driven process produces a shortlist which our editors then use to guide the selection of cities. We try to choose cities of a variety of sizes and in a variety of places. Not every city will necessarily be a perfect match, but our hope is that one of the 10 will be a good fit for you--and in this case for your family, too. You can check out more information on each of these 10 cities – and thousands more – on

Ranking Criteria
Percentage of School Age Children (5-18)
Number of Parks
Crime Rate
Graduation Rate
Quality of Schools in the Area
Walk Score
Average Commute Time
Number of Libraries
Percentage of Families in Poverty
  • 9

    Bowling Green , OH

    Population: 31,506
    Courtesy of Daniel Lewis under a CC 4.0 license.

    Affordability and accessibility combine to make Bowling Green one of the Best Cities to Raise a Family. Only a 30-minute drive from Toledo, Bowling Green offers families quick access to a host of the bigger city's arts and cultural amenities, such as the Toledo Museum of Art and the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center, which celebrates the city's Latino heritage through the arts and education.

    Families can head north to spend the afternoon or the entire day at Toledo area attractions, including the Toledo Zoo, Imagination Station children's museum, and the Fossil Park in Sylvania, which offers free parking and admission, and kids get to keep whatever fossils they dig up.

    The 10 Best Things to Do in Ohio

    Closer to home, Bowling Green families join with the community each September to celebrate the Black Swamp Arts Festival. The festival takes its name from the Great Black Swamp, which was drained in the 1800s to make way for agriculture in the region. The festival attracts some 40,000 people to the city's Main Street to hear live music and browse artwork from more than 100 juried artists from around the country.

    In addition to the arts festival, the Bowling Green Downtown Association hosts a number of family-friendly events throughout the year, from the Classics on Main Car Show to a Downtown Trick or Treat party for kids. The city is also home to Bowling Green State University, which opens its campus to families for activities and events, such as the BGSU Planetarium, ice skating at the BGSU Ice Arena or performances by the university’s college of musical arts. Most weekends, families have the chance to cheer on the BGSU Falcons, whether it be in football softball, basketball or ice hockey, and during the summer, the campus hosts summer music and sports summer camps for kids and teens.

    The Best Places to Live in Ohio

    Even though Bowling Green is packed with amenities, the city is surprisingly affordable. The average cost of a house is a little more than $129,000, compared to the national average of $188,900. The city's cost of living is also lower than the national average. Bowling Green's unemployment rate is two percent lower than the national rate, and job growth is on the upswing. Bowling Green also has one of the shortest average commutes of the cities on our list, which means parents can spend more time with their families and less time on the road.