10 Best Places To Raise A Family In California For 2019

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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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for . This is our second time ranking the best cities for families in California.

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When you think of your childhood, what comes to mind? Was it showing off your rollerblading skills at JellyBeans? What about playing soccer with your friends or going to the local Y summer camps?

Did you love your elementary schools and were you able to walk to school alone when you got older?

You likely had some very fond memories of childhood that you want to pass on to your children. You also likely have things you would change if you could. So what are some important factors to think about when you do start thinking about where to raise your children?

Crime levels, the quality of schools, and proximity to other children for your kids to make close friendships with are probably some of the key aspects to think about when deciding where to raise your family.

The first decision to make is what state to raise your family in. Well, that is an easy one: California.

California is one of America’s most famous states and for a good reason. Who wouldn’t want to grow up under the palm trees, walking up and down the streets of San Francisco, and hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail?

California has something for everyone. You can be a surfer, a climber, a city-dweller, or even just a cafe-hopper.

But within California, what are the best cities for families? Which cities are both affordable and packed with family-friendliness? HomeSnacks has figured out the answer to those questions for you.

We analyzed 349 cities in California to determine which one was the best for families. This ranking was made by seeing which cities were the most “family-friendly,” or which states had the least crime, the best schools, and the most fun activities.

Want to guess which city made first? If you haven’t heard of Imperial, California, then keep reading, because this is the best city for families in California for 2019.

Imperial is located near Chula Vista and San Diego and is packed with everything families need and love. You can even travel to Mexico for an international dining experience if you want.

Want to see how your favorite city or hometown in California stacked up? Read on to learn more about our methodology and to see what makes each of our top 10 cities for families so great.

Or, check out some more reading about California and the best places for families in the country:

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 Clearlake is probably a place made for singles.

The 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In California For 2019

Imperial, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 16,931
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 63
Closest Major City: Chula Vista
Households with kids: 52.4%
More on Imperial: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

With the economy doing so well, people are moving now more than ever. Might we suggest California’s fifth most affordable city for 2019: Imperial?

This city in Imperial County on the US/Mexico border scored an 8.5 on our snackability scale: the highest for any city in the top ten. According to our data, they should be California’s poster city for affordability, housing, and safety.

This El Centro-burb knows how to make their ‘dolla holla’ with year-round golf, dune buggying, and camping.

And you know what else Imperial’s residents know? Apparently a good deal when they see it because they are the second most affordable city for home price to income ratio.

Moorpark, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 36,060
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 42
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 35.7%
More on Moorpark: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Palo Alto, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 67,082
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
Closest Major City: Fremont
Households with kids: 34.3%
More on Palo Alto: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Review Of Palo Alto by HomeSnacks User

I live in Palo Alto, and I never doubted that we ranked high on snobbery. After all, not only do we have a community theater company and a community orchestra, but we have a community opera company as well.||I don’t know where Palo Alto stands with this metric or how much it is weighted, but I take objection to your inclusion of private school density as a criterion.

Firstly, the number of private schools in a city relative to that city’s population is not necessarily the best measure of how many eligible students in a city attend private school, as private schools may vary in size and often do not restrict enrollment to the residents of their host city.

Secondly, while private school enrollment is an understandable measure to be associated with snobbery, given that in most parts of the country elites seek out private schools for the usually superior quality of education they provide, Palo Alto may be an exception that proves the rule.

In Palo Alto, the quality of our public schools rivals that of many nearby private schools. Therefore, many Palo Alto parents proudly send their children to public school, deeming private school unnecessarily expensive for its relative value. Does this fact make us more or less s****y-

Los Gatos, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,709
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 56
Closest Major City: San Jose
Households with kids: 31.7%
More on Los Gatos: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Review Of Los Gatos by HomeSnacks User

Lived in Los Gatos for 15 years, and yes it’s a desired community but because of the exceptional school system level, the photo is the high school which is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen and I’ve lived all over the states, with the best teaching staff in the country, and its facilities are like a university…

I grew up in Ann Arbor, Mi. Which is a university town and gorgeous. I now live and have for 28 years on Catalina island, in Avalon which is the most mellow in the state, and beautiful… Location, location.

Folsom, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 75,897
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 61
Closest Major City: Sacramento
Households with kids: 36.7%
More on Folsom: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Mission Viejo, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 96,535
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 60
Closest Major City: Irvine
Households with kids: 29.5%
More on Mission Viejo: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Camarillo, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 67,116
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 54
Closest Major City: Oxnard
Households with kids: 27.0%
More on Camarillo: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Torrance, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 147,190
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
Closest Major City: Long Beach
Households with kids: 29.5%
More on Torrance: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Review Of Torrance by Tim Custer

I live in Torrance and it is a very save community

San Marino, CA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,331
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 39
Closest Major City: Los Angeles
Households with kids: 38.9%
More on San Marino: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Moraga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,231
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 55
Closest Major City: Oakland
Households with kids: 34.9%
More on Moraga: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

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. Clearlake
  2. Grass Valley
  3. Anderson

For more California reading, check out:

How Is The Area In ?

Detailed List Of The Best Places For Families In California

Rank City Population Amenities Score
1 Imperial, CA 16,931 45
2 Moorpark, CA 36,060 49
3 Palo Alto, CA 67,082 61
4 Los Gatos, CA 30,709 48
5 Folsom, CA 75,897 38
6 Mission Viejo, CA 96,535 41
7 Camarillo, CA 67,116 38
8 Torrance, CA 147,190 74
9 San Marino, CA 13,331 57
10 Moraga, CA 17,231 45
11 Pleasanton, CA 79,341 39
12 Calabasas, CA 24,169 40
13 Saratoga, CA 31,013 40
14 Aliso Viejo, CA 50,691 36
15 Santa Paula, CA 30,344 45
16 Cupertino, CA 60,687 57
17 Mill Valley, CA 14,392 32
18 Santa Clara, CA 124,635 40
19 Coronado, CA 24,053 53
20 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 49,078 57
21 Yorba Linda, CA 67,740 36
22 Fremont, CA 230,964 54
23 Corona, CA 163,585 51
24 Santa Clarita, CA 209,489 46
25 Sunnyvale, CA 151,565 49
26 Glendale, CA 199,750 58
27 Orange, CA 140,289 53
28 Fullerton, CA 139,976 57
29 Lafayette, CA 25,792 43
30 Sierra Madre, CA 11,061 49
31 Thousand Oaks, CA 128,909 50
32 Placentia, CA 52,294 37
33 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 42,463 41
34 Los Altos, CA 30,527 31
35 Santa Ana, CA 334,493 82
36 Chula Vista, CA 264,101 61
37 Menlo Park, CA 33,661 47
38 Simi Valley, CA 126,546 36
39 San Mateo, CA 103,500 64
40 Cypress, CA 49,108 39
41 San Ramon, CA 75,048 49
42 Redlands, CA 70,765 55
43 Pleasant Hill, CA 34,662 87
44 Cudahy, CA 24,146 35
45 Eastvale, CA 59,733 53
46 Downey, CA 113,358 64
47 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 174,573 36
48 Hollister, CA 37,182 35
49 Danville, CA 44,205 36
50 Rocklin, CA 61,697 35
51 Whittier, CA 86,852 45
52 Azusa, CA 49,029 51
53 Napa, CA 79,722 43
54 Soledad, CA 25,603 53
55 Yucaipa, CA 53,151 32
56 Walnut, CA 30,062 34
57 Poway, CA 49,874 52
58 Irvine, CA 256,877 52
59 Bell Gardens, CA 42,845 51
60 Pasadena, CA 141,231 73
61 Orinda, CA 19,248 33
62 Los Alamitos, CA 11,639 31
63 Benicia, CA 28,011 33
64 Hillsborough, CA 11,436 52
65 Ripon, CA 15,173 41
66 Santa Maria, CA 104,791 47
67 Beaumont, CA 43,641 51
68 Hayward, CA 156,917 62
69 Murrieta, CA 110,043 47
70 Alhambra, CA 85,168 58
71 Santee, CA 57,376 55
72 Escondido, CA 150,783 61
73 Palos Verdes Estates, CA 13,591 39
74 Lincoln, CA 46,404 32
75 Carlsbad, CA 113,147 61
76 Livermore, CA 88,232 44
77 South Pasadena, CA 25,974 57
78 Newport Beach, CA 86,793 41
79 El Segundo, CA 16,929 42
80 San Marcos, CA 93,493 40
81 Belmont, CA 27,110 32
82 La Puente, CA 40,451 38
83 Dixon, CA 19,488 55
84 La Mirada, CA 49,162 40
85 San Rafael, CA 59,180 74
86 Monterey Park, CA 61,056 38
87 Laguna Niguel, CA 65,429 54
88 Elk Grove, CA 166,228 53
89 Jurupa Valley, CA 102,202 68
90 Chino Hills, CA 78,025 41
91 Woodland, CA 58,324 45
92 Lodi, CA 64,403 49
93 Coalinga, CA 16,612 53
94 Oxnard, CA 206,732 46
95 Porterville, CA 58,782 60
96 Diamond Bar, CA 56,600 45
97 Ukiah, CA 15,917 54
98 Roseville, CA 130,705 64
99 Colton, CA 54,200 60
100 Santa Fe Springs, CA 17,669 62

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