They say that “Virginia is for Lovers“ — of life, that is — which makes it the perfect place for all ages. With a breathtaking natural landscape, vast cultural diversity, temperate climate and more, it’s no wonder the first of the 13 original colonies continues to attract new settlers, many of whom end up raising their children there.
Perhaps most appealing to parents and their kids, however, is the right combination of family-friendly qualities this Mid-Atlantic state checks off. For starters, there’s no shortage of fun things to do, from amusement parks to beaches. As for other important items on the list, Virginia offers significant opportunity for economic growth, with the 12th highest nominal GDP and the 12th highest per-capita personal income in the nation. Seeking top-notch education? Virginia’s public schools outrank those in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
But not all roads in Virginia lead to satisfaction. To determine which parts of the state are truly built for family life, WalletHub compared 83 of its largest cities across 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from “median family income” to “school-system quality” to “housing affordability.” Read on for the full ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Live in Virginia for Families
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|6||Stone Ridge, VA||66.34||6||54||3||20|
|7||South Riding, VA||66.15||21||42||2||2|
|9||Falls Church, VA||65.31||19||7||25||21|
|10||Cave Spring, VA||63.82||38||6||8||45|
|24||Fairfax Station, VA||60.00||83||30||6||3|
|28||Great Falls, VA||58.45||69||17||28||1|
|33||Virginia Beach, VA||57.02||15||12||54||52|
|35||Mount Vernon, VA||55.83||82||38||13||32|
|36||Glen Allen, VA||55.49||56||22||31||43|
|49||Lake Ridge, VA||50.35||77||71||36||27|
|51||Manassas Park, VA||49.73||36||29||75||29|
|59||Madison Heights, VA||47.56||60||26||46||66|
|62||Dale City, VA||46.82||70||78||48||35|
|73||Newport News, VA||39.99||25||65||74||72|
|76||Front Royal, VA||38.54||26||79||64||79|
|78||Highland Springs, VA||37.27||64||61||53||83|
|82||Bailey's Crossroads, VA||31.28||63||83||79||68|
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 on evaluating Virginia 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 Virginia?
- How can local officials in Virginia make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Virginia, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Virginia cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared 83 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socioeconomics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions 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.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
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)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- 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: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: This metric refers to the share of children aged 0 to 17 lacking health-insurance coverage.
- 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 as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices)/Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / 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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