2016’s Best Places to Raise a Family in Georgia
Job opportunities, personal-income growth and rising home values aren’t the only priorities of parents seeking to relocate their clans, but those three probably rank high on the list. As the 10th largest state in the U.S. by GDP, Georgia checks all of those boxes and more, making it an ideal place to raise children — and the family’s bottom line.
This past August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported statistically significant over-the-year nonfarm employment growth in 37 states, including Georgia, which added about 104,000 jobs during that period. Fortunately for working families, the boost in jobs translates to higher wages and salaries that may even help them invest in a home, considering healthy growth in previous and projected real-estate values within the state. But other valuable incentives invite families to stick around for the long haul, including Georgia’s HOPE program, which awards scholarships and grants to hardworking students for up to seven years, potentially saving their parents tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition.
Numbers aside, the “Peach State,” as this member of the original Thirteen Colonies is also known, is rich in historic, cultural and environmental character, giving families plenty of options for activities. Eat at The Varsity, for instance, the world’s biggest drive-in restaurant located in Atlanta. Or be mesmerized by centuries-old Savannah, the 200-million-year-old rock formations in Rock City and the 400,000-acre Okefenokee Natural Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Georgia. Plus, any kid would be thrilled to explore the state’s plethora of animal kingdoms, amusement parks and museums.
As in any other state, however, the distribution of wealth, beauty and fun varies across Georgia. WalletHub’s analysts therefore crunched the data to determine which among 100 of the state’s peachiest cities also meet the criteria for “most conducive to family life.” We compared the cities based on 21 key indicators of family-friendliness, ranging from “number of attractions” to “median family income” to “school-system quality.” Continue reading below to see the winners, expert family-moving wisdom and a full description of our methodology.
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|1||Johns Creek, GA||77.36||12||10||1||3|
|6||Druid Hills, GA||69.60||27||75||2||18|
|7||Peachtree City, GA||69.08||77||11||6||8|
|13||St. Simons, GA||63.66||65||4||19||12|
|18||Richmond Hill, GA||63.05||24||9||36||20|
|20||Wilmington Island, GA||61.27||99||2||11||2|
|24||North Decatur, GA||57.72||46||78||16||34|
|25||St. Marys, GA||57.67||31||3||47||21|
|27||Sandy Springs, GA||56.71||56||36||37||31|
|28||Warner Robins, GA||56.61||20||39||29||54|
|31||Mountain Park, GA||56.16||96||96||18||10|
|32||Powder Springs, GA||55.86||79||33||21||43|
|37||Sugar Hill, GA||53.81||78||72||31||15|
|38||Peachtree Corners, GA||53.77||62||95||50||13|
|41||Villa Rica, GA||53.42||70||31||34||52|
|48||North Druid Hills, GA||51.55||97||86||24||27|
|86||Lithia Springs, GA||38.90||82||98||58||67|
|87||Forest Park, GA||38.33||41||91||59||83|
|94||Belvedere Park, GA||34.20||92||84||74||89|
|97||Union City, GA||32.83||21||92||89||97|
|98||East Point, GA||29.54||95||97||78||95|
|100||College Park, GA||18.73||55||100||100||100|
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 Georgia 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 Georgia?
- How can local officials in Georgia make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Georgia, 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 Georgia cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared 100 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 Families 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 these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, Georgia Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.
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