Across the Nation

The 5 Best Places To Raise Kids in the U.S.

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If you are a parent, you may be wondering if another state would be a better environment for raising your family. A healthy mix of a strong school system, a sense of community, a fair cost of living, and a decent amount of high-paying job opportunities can reveal the best places to raise kids. While good school districts are often found in areas where taxes and the cost of home ownership are beyond what many families can afford, there are places in the U.S. that offer a great quality of life without the high price tag. Based on that criteria, here are five of the best places to raise kids in the U.S.

1. Maple Valley, Washington

Only 22 miles from Seattle, Maple Valley has easy access to city amenities and outdoor recreation in the Cascade Range mountains. Known for strong public schools, Maple Valley also offers a median home price of $342,400, which is well below the average in many other Seattle suburbs. Additionally, Washington is one of nine states in the U.S. with no income tax, so Maple Valley residents will be able to keep a little extra each paycheck.

2. Los Alamos, New Mexico

With a population of about 12,000, Los Alamos is one of the smaller towns on this list. However, it makes up for its small size with a highly ranked public school district, low unemployment, and a mild climate. Residents of New Mexico also have the unique opportunity to continue their education with the help of the Leadership Lottery Scholarship, which offers graduates from public high schools partial tuition at any state college or university if they maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. While New Mexico does have a state income tax, its property taxes are the 4th lowest in the nation ($659 per capita according to the Tax Foundation), making Los Alamos a good choice for academically minded families looking for a small-town atmosphere.

3. Oviedo, Florida

Long known for its celery crop and free-roaming chickens, Oviedo is home to some of the best-ranked public schools in the Sunshine State. With a median household income of $81,068 and no state income tax, this family-friendly town near Orlando could give Mickey a run for his money when it comes to creating family magic.

4. Castle Rock, Colorado

With over 5,000 acres of open space, families who embrace an outdoor lifestyle are happy to call Castle Rock home. Only 19 miles from the Denver Tech Center, this rapidly growing community has tripled in population over the past 15 years. While Colorado does have a state income tax, salaries of Castle Rock residents tend to be about $30,000 more than the state average. One of the best public school districts in the state, a median household income of $86,280, and over 240 days of sunshine per year make Castle Rock a gem for families.

5. McKinney, Texas

With a high median family income of $81,118, a low median home cost of $217,879, and no state income tax, McKinney offers a lot of bang for the family buck. Ranked number one on Money Magazine’s 2014 list of top places to live, McKinney offers Southern hospitality, outdoor markets, and great schools.

Laying down roots is one of the first difficult tasks for parents. If you’re searching for a hometown that offers strong schools, high-paying jobs, and an overall high quality of life, these five towns are among the best places to raise kids in the U.S.

Editor’s note: Research used in this article was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and GreatSchools.

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Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist by day and financial writer/blogger by night. She lives in Southwest Colorado with her husband and daughter who all share a love of travel, the outdoors, and finding ways to earn passive income to retire early. Her writing has been featured on Business Insider, Life Hacker,  Mint, and Livestrong.com.