These Are The 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In California For 2018

We used science and data to determine which cities in California have the best set up for children: a lot to do, good schools, and no crime.

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If you’re like the rest of us, you’re looking for the perfect place for your family. But you have a strict criteria; the city has to be safe, affordable, and stimulating. Basically, the place you move – or even visit – has to be outright perfect.

Is that attainable? Perhaps not, but we’ll get you as close as we can.


According to the United States Census, the number of American families who move is trending downwards Why is that? Perhaps it has to do with the ‘safety net’ factor: We get comfortable where we live, and we’re afraid to try a new move. What if the schools are bad? What if it’s dangerous?

Well, we can pretty much guarantee that if you choose the cities we’re mentioning below, you won’t lose any sleep whatsoever.

So, where are the best cities for families in California? We’ve got the answers here.

These are the best cities to raise a family in the Golden State:

  1. Imperial
  2. Moorpark (Photos)
  3. Palo Alto (Photos)
  4. Calabasas (Photos)
  5. Santa Paula (Photos)
  6. Santa Clara (Photos)
  7. Mission Viejo (Photos)
  8. Camarillo (Photos)
  9. Torrance (Photos)
  10. Folsom (Photos)

If you’re thinking of making a move to California, and want a family-friendly place, we’ve got you covered. And if you already have kids, we’re surprised you made it this far into the article and hope your little ones give you a couple of more minutes of free time.

Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in California and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in California.

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How do you determine which place is best for families in California anyways?

To give you the places in California which are best for families, we have to look at a handful of metrics. Of course, we want to measure the type of people who live in each city, and make some assumptions about what’s family-friendly and what isn’t.

So we researched the internet for a database that contains all that information.

How we crunched the family friendly numbers for the Golden State

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using U.S. Census data produced for the state of California, we looked at every single city in the state. We paid particular attention to:

  • Crime (Both violent and property)
  • Quality of local schools
  • Distance to a major city without necessarily being in it
  • % of households with children
  • Family-friendly amenities nearby (museums, libraries and colleges)

We then gave each city a Family Score.

The higher the score, the better the city is for families. We also limited our results to cities with populations over 10,000 people. For California, that meant a total of 349 cities.

Read on to see why Imperial is where all the families are headed, while Grass Valley is probably a place made for singles.

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1. Imperial

Imperial, Ca

Population: 16,583
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 39
Closest Major City: Chula Vista
Households with kids: 57.5%
Imperial is a city in Imperial County, California. Imperial is located 4 miles (6.4 km) north of El Centro. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 14,758. It is part of the El Centro metropolitan area. Nearby recreation facilities transform the desert into a popular Valley tourist destination due to availability of activities. Three year-round golf courses are within minutes of Imperial. The sand dunes provide a place for campers and dune buggy enthusiasts. This region is well known for its abundance of bird species such as dove, quail, ducks, pheasant and geese.

2. Moorpark

Moorpark, Ca

Population: 35,594
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 65
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 39.5%
Moorpark is a city in Ventura County in Southern California. Moorpark was founded in 1900 when the application for the Moorpark Post Office was approved and Inocencio C. Villegas was named Moorpark’s first postmaster on August 8 of that year. The townsite of Moorpark was owned and surveyed by Robert W. Poindexter and his wife, Madeline. The town has experienced a great amount of growth since the late 1970s. The population was 34,421 at the 2010 census, up from 31,415 at the 2000 census.

3. Palo Alto

Palo Alto, Ca

Population: 66,649
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 52
Closest Major City: Fremont
Households with kids: 34.9%
Palo Alto (/pælo ælto/ PAL-oh AL-toh; Spanish: [palo alto]; from palo, literally ‘stick’, colloquially ‘tree’, and alto ‘tall’; meaning: ‘tall tree’) is a charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States.

4. Calabasas

Calabasas, Ca

Population: 24,091
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 46
Closest Major City: Los Angeles
Households with kids: 39.2%
Calabasas is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, located in the hills west of the San Fernando Valley and in the northwest Santa Monica Mountains between Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, West Hills, Hidden Hills, and Malibu, California. As of the 2010 census, the city’s population was 23,058, up from 20,033 at the 2000 census. The city was formally incorporated in 1991.

5. Santa Paula

Santa Paula, Ca

Population: 30,283
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 43
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 43.3%
Santa Paula is a city in Ventura County, California, United States. Situated amidst the orchards of the fertile Santa Clara River Valley, the city advertises itself to tourists as the ‘Citrus Capital of the World.’ Santa Paula was one of the early centers of California’s petroleum industry. The Union Oil Company Building, the founding headquarters of the Union Oil Company of California in 1890, now houses the California Oil Museum. The population was 29,321 at the 2010 census, up from 28,598 at the 2000 census.

6. Santa Clara

Santa Clara, Ca

Population: 122,725
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 52
Closest Major City: Fremont
Households with kids: 34.0%
Santa Clara (/sæntklær/) is a city in Santa Clara County, California. The city’s population was 116,468 at the 2010 United States Census, making it the ninth-most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located 45 miles (72 km) southeast of San Francisco, the city was founded in 1777 with the establishment of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, the eighth of 21 California missions. The city was later incorporated in 1852. The mission, the city, and the county are all named for Saint Clare of Assisi.

7. Mission Viejo

Mission Viejo, Ca

Source: Public domain

Population: 96,178
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 40
Closest Major City: Irvine
Households with kids: 32.2%
Mission Viejo /mn vieho/ is a city in Orange County, California, United States in the Saddleback Valley. Mission Viejo is considered one of the largest master-planned communities ever built under a single project in the United States, and is rivaled only by Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in its size. Its population as of 2014 was estimated at 96,346.

8. Camarillo

Camarillo, Ca

Population: 66,630
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 55
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 30.4%
Camarillo (/kæmrio/ KAM–REE-oh) is a city in Ventura County in the U.S. state of California. The population was 65,201 at the 2010 census, up from 57,084 at the 2000 census. The Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101) is the city’s primary thoroughfare. Camarillo is named for Adolfo and Juan Camarillo, two of the few Californios (pre-1848 California natives of Hispanic ancestry) to preserve the city’s heritage after the arrival of Anglo settlers. The railroad coast route came through in 1898 and built a station here. Adolfo Camarillo eventually employed 700 workers growing mainly lima beans. Walnuts and citrus were also grown on the ranch. Adolfo bred Camarillo White Horses in the 1920s through the 1960s and was well known for riding them, dressed in colorful Spanish attire, in parades such as the Fiesta of Santa Barbara.

9. Torrance

Torrance, Ca

Source: Public domain

Population: 147,307
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 70
Closest Major City: Long Beach
Households with kids: 31.7%
Torrance is a U.S. city in the South Bay (southwestern) region of Los Angeles County, California. Torrance has 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Torrance has a moderate year-round climate with warm temperatures, sea breezes, low humidity and an average rainfall of 12.55 inches per year.

10. Folsom

Folsom, Ca

Population: 74,960
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 35
Closest Major City: Sacramento
Households with kids: 38.7%
Folsom is a city in Sacramento County, California, United States. It is commonly known for Folsom Prison and Folsom Lake. The population was 72,203 at the 2010 census.

There You Have It – The Best Places To Raise A Family In California

If you’re looking for a breakdown of cities in California ranked by criteria that most would agree make a place a great spot for families, this is an accurate list.

Here’s a look at the best cities for singles California according to the data:

  1. Grass Valley
  2. Clearlake
  3. Anderson

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places For Families In California

City Rank Population Amenities Score
Imperial 1 16,583 64
Moorpark 2 35,594 45
Palo Alto 3 66,649 48
Calabasas 4 24,091 34
Santa Paula 5 30,283 44
Santa Clara 6 122,725 57
Mission Viejo 7 96,178 48
Camarillo 8 66,630 53
Torrance 9 147,307 59
Folsom 10 74,960 57
Pleasanton 11 77,046 58
Saratoga 12 30,830 40
Aliso Viejo 13 50,219 61
Moraga 14 16,977 45
San Marino 15 13,324 62
Sunnyvale 16 149,596 48
Cupertino 17 60,297 46
Coronado 18 24,852 44
Mill Valley 19 14,318 51
Fremont 20 227,934 74
Los Gatos 21 30,491 57
Orange 22 139,919 46
Fullerton 23 139,491 41
Yorba Linda 24 67,362 50
Corona 25 161,614 57
Glendale 26 197,895 50
Santa Ana 27 333,605 96
Placentia 28 52,168 58
Rancho Santa Margarita 29 49,038 49
Menlo Park 30 33,319 37
Thousand Oaks 31 128,623 50
Rancho Palos Verdes 32 42,412 31
Chula Vista 33 260,598 62
Downey 34 113,223 62
San Mateo 35 102,224 59
Walnut 36 30,026 33
Rancho Cucamonga 37 173,309 57
Cypress 38 48,978 40
Hollister 39 36,901 62
Azusa 40 48,498 61
Whittier 41 86,630 54
San Ramon 42 74,366 40
Cudahy 43 24,106 51
Eastvale 44 58,217 44
Santa Clarita 45 180,303 42
Pleasant Hill 46 34,395 79
Los Altos 47 30,238 54
Redlands 48 70,442 44
Hayward 49 154,507 57
Santee 50 56,839 58
La Puente 51 40,384 51
Los Alamitos 52 11,661 58
Alameda 53 77,409 38
Glendora 54 51,285 44
Pasadena 55 140,268 63
Porterville 56 58,472 55
Lafayette 57 25,381 37
La Mirada 58 49,130 54
Danville 59 43,758 52
Benicia 60 27,780 33
Simi Valley 61 126,126 51
Alhambra 62 84,866 36
Sierra Madre 63 11,067 46
Beaumont 64 42,191 37
Murrieta 65 108,583 45
Lincoln 66 45,675 53
Ripon 67 14,971 47
Rocklin 68 60,509 37
Newport Beach 69 86,813 36
Poway 70 49,675 50
Soledad 71 25,616 46
Chino Hills 72 77,266 44
Carlsbad 73 112,008 62
Irvine 74 246,992 48
Palos Verdes Estates 75 13,582 33
Ontario 76 169,389 54
Woodland 77 57,552 36
Napa 78 79,567 44
Escondido 79 149,912 41
Orinda 80 18,936 47
Monterey Park 81 61,001 49
Belmont 82 26,918 49
Santa Maria 83 103,642 55
San Marcos 84 91,479 61
Santa Fe Springs 85 17,436 62
Buena Park 86 82,771 60
South San Francisco 87 66,587 47
Diamond Bar 88 56,456 31
Colton 89 53,856 40
Watsonville 90 52,915 54
Hillsborough 91 11,312 45
Yucaipa 92 52,886 34
San Jose 93 1,009,363 83
Santa Rosa 94 173,165 68
Elk Grove 95 163,634 59
Anaheim 96 346,776 51
Merced 97 81,461 64
Livermore 98 86,493 37
Roseville 99 128,276 57
Fairfield 100 110,953 57

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