Michigan might be known as the hub of the auto industry, but it’s also a good state for raising kids, too. In fact, 65 percent of Michigan children live in two-parent households, which is right in line with the national rate.
But what makes the Great Lakes State a good place parents and their children? Its nickname is a giveaway, for starters. No one in Michigan is ever “more than 6 miles from a lake or stream.” And there are countless other family-friendly attractions that encourage an active, outdoor lifestyle such as over 100 state parks and thousands of miles of trails, according to the state’s website.
However, Michigan’s abundant natural beauty isn’t the state’s only selling point. High-quality education and stable, well-paying jobs are a priority for many families, and this Northern State doesn’t disappoint in either. For example, the University of Michigan has the second largest research budget of any school in the U.S. with $1.436 billion, and the ninth largest total endowment. Michigan’s economy is also the 14th largest in the nation by GDP. In a recent WalletHub study, Michigan outranked 40 states in “innovation potential” because of its outsized growth in technology-sector jobs.
As in any other part of America, however, the best family living conditions aren’t equally distributed among Michigan’s cities. WalletHub analysts therefore compared the 102 most populous cities in the state based on 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from “median family income” to “school-system quality” to “housing affordability.” Read on for a list of the winners, expert commentary and a full description of how we ranked Michigan’s cities.
Best Cities in Michigan to Raise a Family
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|2||South Lyon, MI||70.35||30||1||2||38|
|3||Beverly Hills, MI||69.29||35||5||1||4|
|8||East Grand Rapids, MI||63.83||34||23||13||2|
|9||Forest Hills, MI||63.56||55||17||14||1|
|13||Royal Oak, MI||60.89||73||31||3||9|
|16||Rochester Hills, MI||60.28||80||9||15||7|
|17||Ann Arbor, MI||60.08||21||12||31||36|
|23||East Lansing, MI||55.99||48||26||18||45|
|25||Farmington Hills, MI||55.78||93||37||8||11|
|30||New Baltimore, MI||54.59||83||35||24||18|
|32||Grand Haven, MI||53.92||82||15||39||23|
|33||Traverse City, MI||53.68||4||51||66||46|
|35||Grosse Pointe Park, MI||52.80||69||21||42||25|
|38||Mount Pleasant, MI||52.13||13||48||62||61|
|39||Grosse Pointe Woods, MI||52.11||84||52||37||6|
|41||Madison Heights, MI||51.80||74||49||22||53|
|42||Sault Ste. Marie, MI||51.29||9||38||60||78|
|43||Allen Park, MI||51.18||78||41||41||43|
|46||Sterling Heights, MI||50.58||64||42||64||27|
|48||St. Clair Shores, MI||50.37||94||53||34||22|
|50||Norton Shores, MI||49.91||97||36||45||35|
|52||Auburn Hills, MI||49.77||59||59||20||67|
|55||Battle Creek, MI||49.03||16||80||44||69|
|57||Oak Park, MI||48.60||60||66||21||77|
|60||Bay City, MI||47.99||18||60||61||82|
|64||Garden City, MI||47.29||100||61||69||32|
|67||Grand Rapids, MI||46.21||33||74||77||63|
|70||Big Rapids, MI||44.82||3||29||79||99|
|74||Hazel Park, MI||43.56||67||84||23||90|
|76||Dearborn Heights, MI||43.01||54||81||96||50|
|85||Port Huron, MI||40.79||25||92||81||86|
|87||Mount Clemens, MI||40.30||76||83||59||89|
|88||Lincoln Park, MI||40.26||68||86||83||75|
|89||Comstock Park, MI||39.80||88||67||85||81|
|92||Harper Woods, MI||38.44||51||99||87||65|
|99||Muskegon Heights, MI||31.75||28||95||92||101|
|102||Highland Park, MI||19.36||95||100||101||102|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective Michigan cities on a family’s shortlist. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Michigan?
- How can local officials in Michigan make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Michigan, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Michigan cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared 102 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socioeconomics.
We evaluated these categories using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 indicating the most suitable conditions for family life.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
In determining our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area. Other cities were not included in the sample due to limited data access.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the median annual family income by housing costs, which account for both rental and sale prices.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the median family income by the cost-of-living index.
Socioeconomics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.
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