People pondering parenthood have long felt like they’ve landed in a high-stakes Choose Your Own Adventure story: Should they raise their family in a lively urban environment with limitless options for culture and entertainment, or opt for a more placid area with lots of green space and good schools—the real estate equivalent of eating your spinach?
But the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the equation. Those fun urban locations seem a lot less fun these days, and having more space indoors and out became more appealing to everyone, especially those with kids. And it turns out that prioritizing bigger houses and better school systems doesn’t necessarily mean giving up big-city perks. To prove it, the data team at Realtor.com® set out to find the best suburbs outside the nation’s biggest cities that offer a rewarding lifestyle for parents as well as kids.
Since the start of the pandemic, Americans have been moving farther and farther away from major metros, in part for more space and in part for more affordable housing options. This is especially true of millennial parents who may not be as financially stable as their parents were a generation ago.
“With more years of saving and historically low interest rates, a lot of millennials have decided to become homeowners during the pandemic,” says Jung Choi, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC. Many of these millennials, especially highly educated ones with jobs that allow remote work, are increasingly buying homes in the suburbs, Choi says. “More people are making the decision to move a bit farther away from work to find more affordable housing where there are still some urban amenities,” Choi says.
To come up with our list of suburbs for America’s cool moms and dads, we started by looking at the nation’s 11 largest cities. (How could we leave out San Francisco?) Then we looked at the surrounding suburbs in each metro area with at least 10,000 people. We took into account the percentage of children living in each city, school rankings, and family-friendly businesses (including day care centers). To make sure these were places parents would want to live, too, there had to be plenty of restaurants, bars, and things to do, as well as a reasonable commute (most are under 40 minutes) for when they do have to go to the office.
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About the Author:
Elena Cox is a data journalist for Realtor.com. She has a master's degree in data journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She previously worked for CBS News, Bloomberg TV, and NY1.
Elena Cox Data Journalist, realtor.com
- August 31, 2021