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

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: 48
Closest Major City: Chula Vista
Households with kids: 57.5%
More on Imperial: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 36
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 39.5%
More on Moorpark: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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

Source: Public domain

Population: 66,649
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 40
Closest Major City: Fremont
Households with kids: 34.9%
More on Palo Alto: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 48
Closest Major City: Los Angeles
Households with kids: 39.2%
More on Calabasas: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 46
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 43.3%
More on Santa Paula: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 66
Closest Major City: Fremont
Households with kids: 34.0%
More on Santa Clara: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 55
Closest Major City: Irvine
Households with kids: 32.2%
More on Mission Viejo: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 64
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 30.4%
More on Camarillo: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 67
Closest Major City: Long Beach
Households with kids: 31.7%
More on Torrance: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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: 50
Closest Major City: Sacramento
Households with kids: 38.7%
More on Folsom: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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

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

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