One California city ranked among worst to raise a family

One California city — San Berardino — ranked in the bottom 10 for worst places to raise a family, according to WalletHub.

In 2020, San Bernardino, the 17th-largest city in California and the 102nd-largest city in the United States, has been listed as one of the least safe cities in American in 2020.

Five cities were listed among the top 10.

Best Cities for Families
1. Fremont, CA
2. Overland Park, KS
3. Irvine, CA
4. Plano, TX
5. South Burlington, VT
6. San Diego, CA
7. San Jose, CA
8. Scottsdale, AZ
9. Gilbert, AZ
10. San Francisco, CA

With inflation leading some families to move to cities with a low cost of living, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family.

To determine the most family-friendly places in America, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities across 45 key metrics. The data set ranges from housing affordability to school-system quality to the unemployment rate.

Best vs. Worst

  • New York has the most playgrounds (per square root of the population), 0.660762, which is 13 times more than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the fewest at 0.050668.
  • Irvine, California, has the fewest violent crimes (per 1,000 residents), 0.51, which is 46.1 times fewer than in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the most at 23.52.
  • Overland Park, Kansas, has the highest median family annual income (adjusted for cost of living), $127,698, which is 3.2 times higher than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest at $40,285.
  • Overland Park, Kansas, has the lowest share of families receiving food stamps, 1.85 percent, which is 22.9 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 42.31 percent.
  • Pearl City, Hawaii, has the lowest share of families living in poverty, 2.00 percent, which is 13.3 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 26.60 percent.

Expert Commentary

To what degree is a child’s development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live? How?

“Where you live is connected to your overall health and well-being and research shows that up to 60% of your health is determined solely by your zip code. Healthcare infrastructure, access to nutritious food, air quality, employment opportunities, education systems, and other things contribute to your family’s health outcomes and overall quality of life.”
— Adrienne M. Duke, Ph.D. – Associate Professor/Extension Specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University

“The environment during a child’s development can either encourage or discourage a child from reaching optimal socio-emotional and physical milestones. Cities, for example, can provide a multitude of resources at little or no cost that enrich a child’s development and add to a family’s quality of life, such as public parks, playgrounds, zoos, museums, and libraries. In addition to providing physical and mental stimulation, these venues encourage and support family and other social activities, like sports or playing in groups that research has shown to be vital for physical and mental development.”
— H. Dieter Steklis, Ph.D. – Professor; Affiliate Faculty, Psychology; Co-Director, Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative (HAIRI) SACBS, University of Arizona and Emeritus Professor, Rutgers University

How can local officials make their cities more attractive to young families?

“#1 is safety. Parents have to feel like their city is a safe place to be out and a safe place to have their children interact with others. #2 is the maintenance of public spaces for families. Parks and playgrounds are the foundation of kids’ place spaces and locale for parents to interact. When parks and playgrounds are run-down, young families do not see cities as attractive.”
— Rob Weisskirch, MSW. Ph.D., CFLE – Professor; Chair, Human Development and Family Science Department, California State University, Monterey Bay

“More than ever, local officials need to consider the well-being of families inclusive of economic, physical, social, emotional, and environmental factors. Understanding that more families – particularly historically marginalized families at the intersections of race, ethnicity, language, and class – are experiencing significant hardship and increased stressors linked to a lack of flexible work environments, consistent healthcare, and access for themselves and their children to attend high-quality educational programs, those representing city policies and overseeing their implementation need to: a) work with and listen to families and local community members to better understand their immediate needs and concerns, b) create inclusive public spaces that are accessible to all families, and c) provide material resources aimed to improve family well-being and quality of life. Cities can no longer assume that young families will be able to afford and take advantage of popular city attractions that require families to sacrifice significant familial capital for the sake of having fun.”
— Cristina Santamaría Graff, Ph.D. – Interim Assistant Dean of Student Support and Diversity, Associate Professor, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

What should families consider when choosing a place to set down roots?

“Families should strongly reflect on how places connect with and support their values as a family. This is sometimes a difficult question for young parents since they may just be figuring themselves out as adults, but location determines access to jobs, activities, educational opportunities, social networks, and other intangibles. For example, if you are a family that values education, you should look at the local school systems from pre-K through higher education – since many studies find that most freshmen attending public four-year colleges and universities enroll within 50 miles of their home. Other issues that may speak to a particular family’s values: access to houses of worship for your faith; access to nutritionally and culturally appropriate foods (e.g., vegan, Kosher, Halal); commute distance (e.g., environmental impact or carbon footprint); high-speed internet (e.g., remote and flexible working).”
— Sherrill W. Hayes, Ph.D. – Director of the School of Data Science and Analytics; Professor, Kennesaw State University

“When families look to set down roots, they should pay attention to the quality of schools (not just test scores). Schools nowadays may provide more support for families and be hubs for learning that is not easily measured in standardized tests. Schools that indicate they do not teach toward the tests seem to indicate they have a stronger mission for learning. Families should also look for those assets in the community that are consistent with their values. For families involved in their faith, they may want to be close to their church, synagogue, or mosque because they will spend time there. Families interested in the arts may want to check for a vibrant arts community, Also, families might want to consider commute times to activities. With so many distractions nowadays, parents who can be present, physically and mentally, when they are with their kids tend to report more satisfaction with parenting.”
— Rob Weisskirch, MSW. Ph.D., CFLE – Professor; Chair, Human Development and Family Science Department, California State University, Monterey Bay

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:




Image Sources

  • A family’s shoes: Pexels