2017’s Best Places to Raise a Family in Virginia
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 colony in the New World continues to attract new settlers, many of whom end up raising their children here.
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. As for other important items on the list, Virginia offers significant opportunity for economic growth, being home to four of the 10 wealthiest U.S. counties and the 11th highest per-capita personal income in the nation. Seeking top-notch education? Virginia’s public schools outrank those in 42 states and the District of Columbia. There’s even talk of making higher education more affordable for students. And finally, if superior health care is a big priority, this state promises not to disappoint.
But not all roads in Virginia lead to satisfaction. To determine which parts of the state are truly built for family life, WalletHub’s data team compared 82 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, family advice and a full description of how we ranked Virginia’s cities.
Best Places to Raise a Family in Virginia
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|1||Falls Church, VA||66.66||18||8||21||7|
|4||South Riding, VA||66.42||9||39||5||2|
|5||Great Falls, VA||65.72||55||15||1||3|
|10||Cave Spring, VA||61.67||43||6||7||40|
|19||Virginia Beach, VA||58.63||14||12||47||34|
|20||Fairfax Station, VA||58.57||82||42||4||1|
|39||Glen Allen, VA||53.10||48||55||31||27|
|40||Mount Vernon, VA||52.74||79||64||13||24|
|42||Lake Ridge, VA||51.48||72||69||26||26|
|43||Manassas Park, VA||51.28||54||27||59||29|
|56||Madison Heights, VA||47.70||61||21||46||51|
|60||Dale City, VA||44.95||65||79||43||39|
|66||Front Royal, VA||43.54||41||41||61||64|
|67||Tysons Corner, VA||43.40||74||75||54||30|
|70||Newport News, VA||41.72||32||47||74||67|
|77||Highland Springs, VA||34.58||63||80||63||74|
|81||Bailey's Crossroads, VA||24.57||50||81||82||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 regarding the process of evaluating prospective 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 they live in?
To help families find the best Virginia cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared 82 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 calculated overall scores for each city using its weighted average across all metrics and ranked the cities based on the resulting scores.
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 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 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 Below Poverty Level: 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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