2017’s Best Places to Raise a Family in Michigan
Michigan might be known as the hub of the auto industry, but it’s a hub for raising kids, too. In fact, it’s among the states with high concentrations of two-parent families in a nation where this type of household arrangement has been declining.
But what makes the Great Lakes State such a magnet for 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” — not to mention the countless other family-friendly attractions that encourage an active, outdoor lifestyle such as hundreds of campgrounds and more than 1,000 mountain-bike and bicycle 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. U.S. News & World Report recently named the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as the No. 4 best public university in America. Together, its public universities attract more than $1.5 billion annually in research-and-development grants, which have helped the state’s economy balloon to the 13th largest in the nation by GDP. In a recent WalletHub study, Michigan outranked 41 states in “innovation potential” because of its outsized growth in technology-sector jobs. So there’s no shortage of well-paying jobs for workers with tech backgrounds as well as those in “professional and business services; construction; trade, transportation, and utilities; and leisure and hospitality” fields.
As in any other part of America, however, the best family living conditions aren’t equally distributed among Michigan’s cities. WalletHub’s data team therefore compared the 104 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 Places to Raise a Family in Michigan
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|2||East Grand Rapids, MI||72.23||27||5||6||4|
|3||Beverly Hills, MI||71.38||52||4||1||3|
|5||South Lyon, MI||69.34||64||2||7||14|
|6||Grosse Pointe Woods, MI||68.94||73||17||5||5|
|8||Forest Hills, MI||68.11||51||58||4||1|
|10||Ann Arbor, MI||67.48||18||3||30||35|
|13||Grosse Pointe Park, MI||65.32||60||23||3||26|
|14||New Baltimore, MI||64.78||77||21||13||8|
|16||Royal Oak, MI||63.67||86||31||16||13|
|18||Rochester Hills, MI||63.48||91||13||15||6|
|19||Traverse City, MI||63.27||2||29||74||46|
|22||Allen Park, MI||62.25||78||39||10||36|
|25||East Lansing, MI||60.10||65||26||20||47|
|27||Farmington Hills, MI||59.79||93||24||22||11|
|31||Mount Pleasant, MI||58.37||16||14||68||68|
|32||Sault Ste. Marie, MI||57.56||7||27||77||69|
|41||St. Clair Shores, MI||56.98||101||44||27||43|
|42||Sterling Heights, MI||56.91||80||34||46||30|
|46||Norton Shores, MI||56.20||99||56||31||21|
|48||Bay City, MI||55.42||12||49||61||74|
|51||Grand Haven, MI||54.73||102||12||66||20|
|57||Garden City, MI||53.64||94||43||32||60|
|58||Battle Creek, MI||53.63||22||68||59||65|
|60||Auburn Hills, MI||53.55||70||65||50||40|
|62||Big Rapids, MI||52.88||8||19||73||97|
|63||Madison Heights, MI||52.54||69||42||67||58|
|65||Grand Rapids, MI||51.66||26||61||87||54|
|69||Hazel Park, MI||49.96||48||78||37||80|
|72||Lincoln Park, MI||48.82||63||86||35||81|
|74||Dearborn Heights, MI||48.51||57||83||60||66|
|77||Oak Park, MI||47.98||74||64||49||82|
|88||Harper Woods, MI||44.74||45||104||29||85|
|90||Port Huron, MI||43.76||44||90||91||83|
|92||Comstock Park, MI||42.63||79||96||92||57|
|96||Mount Clemens, MI||39.71||89||102||70||88|
|102||Muskegon Heights, MI||31.30||1||100||102||103|
|103||Benton Harbor, MI||29.36||4||101||104||102|
|104||Highland Park, MI||22.62||88||97||103||104|
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?
To help families find the best Michigan cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared 104 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 calculated overall scores for each city using the weighted average across all metrics, which we then used to construct our final ranking.
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
- Number of 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.
- Percentage 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)
- Number of Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Percentage of Children Aged 0 to 17 Lacking Health-Insurance Coverage: 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)
- Percentage of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Percentage of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Percentage 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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