You're starting a family? Congrats!
By this point, you have friends and family cooing over ultrasound pictures and sending unsolicited car seat advice.
But the real question is, where are you going to raise this kid?
In the United States, a difference of only a few miles can mean a change in school quality, job outlook, and even cultural offerings.
Also, things are getting kind of weird lately, so let's stay away from fault lines and coastal cities at low sea level! (Unfortunately, that includes major cities like Boston, Houston, Miami, Portland, Los Angeles, and New Orleans)
For families looking for the best, we've compiled a list of the top five cities in America to raise a family.
So take a look. You might just find your new home!
First Things First: Logistics
It's one thing to daydream about your new property. But, how do you make it happen, especially when there are jobs and current mortgages to consider?
The cities on our list boast high employment ratings and a presence in hot and emerging industries, making it easier than ever to find your new niche.
Wondering what to do if you already own a house and want to capitalize on that investment? In that case, 1031 exchange properties are your best friend, so consider researching those options in the city you select!
1. Raleigh, NC
Oak-lined streets and a sweet fusion of southern charm and modern metropolitan style await in North Carolina's capital city.
Not only are you looking at great schools and a growing job market (especially in tech), but Raleigh also offers tons of family-friendly activities, from the Marbles Kids Museum to the 8,000 acres of parkland.
2. Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado shows up twice on our list, and you can't really go wrong with either town.
Colorado Springs is walker-friendly, so if your parenting fantasy involves jaunting through downtown with your fancy stroller or organic baby wrap, this is your place.
The offerings for kids in Colorado Springs are incredible. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo boasts the largest giraffe herd in captivity, Pikes Peak offers unlimited potential for family hikes, and from May to December, you can hang out with Santa at the North Pole.
Count me in.
3. Denver, CO
Denver is a perfect spot for parents who want to raise a family but still hit the town once in a while for a local microbrew. And let's be honest, if you didn't need a good microbrew before you were a parent, chances are you need one now.
The food and music scene in Denver is world-class. The city also boasts plenty of activities, from the Denver Aquarium to Red Rocks National Park, that will keep you and your family busy year-round.
Dog lover? Denver is a pet-friendly city, so bring your Dachshund (sorry, I love them!) for a stroll downtown, or to one of their many pet-friendly outdoor restaurants!
The job market here is rock solid, too, with an unemployment rate of only 2.1%.
4. Austin, TX
"Keep Austin Weird" is the mantra of Texas' capital city. And for families who are all about keepin' it weird, Austin may be the perfect fit.
The schools here are solid, with the Eanes Independent School District taking the title of #2 in the state of Texas. You're also in the state's cultural heartbeat, as Austin is home to one of the biggest music festivals in the U.S.
Hate taxes? You'll be glad to know there's no state income tax in Texas. Plus, you can feel good about retiring there, as Social Security and pensions are not taxed either.
5. Madison, WI
If you're willing to brave the icy winters in exchange for unparalleled culture and family-friendly atmosphere, Madison may be just the place.
Epic and the University of Wisconsin provide most of the jobs here, so education and tech (especially med-tech) are big industries. The town is also home to some of the best schools in the country, especially in Middleton, just outside the city proper.
Madison is aware of its rough winters, so it makes the summers worth it with a (free!) zoo, botanical gardens, parks, and splash pads galore.
So Where to Raise a Family?
Finding the best place to raise a family is challenging, and what you need depends on who you are, what your parenting style is, and where your family's interests lie.
These cities offer stability, entertainment, and most of all, the family-centric atmosphere you need.
Have you found the best city to raise your kids? Tell us in the comments why young families should move there!