THE 10 BEST States To Raise A Family In America For 2020

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

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best states for families in America.

Best States To Raise A Family In America Map

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In today’s America, people don’t stay in one place for too long. With the economy doing so well lately, it seems Americans are moving more now more than ever. Sometimes, it’s for retirement, or to transfer jobs. But in many cases, it’s to start a better life for their family.

In fact, recent research suggests that families are moving far more often than ever before. With that in mind, people are always trying to figure out – where’s the next best place to take the family?

We understand that everyone is different; some people want to be by nature, and some people want to (or have to) live in bigger cities. But for the most part, we all want the same thing when we consider a place to move with the wife and kids. The states we’re going to talk about are the places where kids will have the best potential to thrive, and where families will be most comfortable. These are the states that have good jobs for mom and dad, and they’re safe, too. We also took into account a number of kid friendly factors.

For many Americans, moving means a better life for their family. Does where kids are raised make a difference? You betcha.

Now that we have a top ten, what’s the best state to raise a family overall? Vermont ranks as the best state to raise a family based on data around affordability, things to do, and safety. The general assumption would be a great place for families would be safe, offer plenty of great schools, and have lot of room for growth. We took that all into account, and made some other assumptions as well.

So pack the toys, the Xboxes, and your old high school yearbooks up as we take you through America’s best states to raise kids. For exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on. Or, if the state where you live is just peachy keen, and you’re not moving an inch, check out:

The 10 Best States For Families In America For 2020

1. Vermont

Vermont|Vt, VT

Population: 624,977
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 553
Households with kids: 2587.0%
More On Vermont: Photos | Rent

Vermont has the best health and safety index ranking in America. Most families have health care coverage, and the doctor to resident ratio is really low. There aren’t any real natural disasters here – despite long periods of snowfall – things are relatively quiet.

Plus, Vermont is one of the safest states in America. Part of the reason people move from their home state is because of crime. You won’t find that here.

What’s odd about Vermont, though, is, despite the fact that on paper, it’s an amazing place to raise a family, it has the least number of households with kids at home. Why is that? Look, you can pick pumpkins and ride in tractors and golf! And there’s a great lake in which to boat! The kids won’t get into mischief living here, that’s for sure.

2. New Hampshire

New-Hampshire|Nh, NH

Population: 1,343,622
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 654
Households with kids: 2796.0%
More On New Hampshire: Photos | Rent

Where’s the second best place in America in which to raise your family? Right next door in New Hampshire, that’s where.

Now, most of your family members couldn’t even point to New Hampshire on a map, much less explain to their friends what to expect when they move here, but you know what? Tough cookies. You’re the parent. They’ll make new friends.

New Hampshire and Vermont are just about tied in every category. There’s technically a few more things to do in New Hampshire for fun, and New Hampshire is a wee bit safer. Plus, you can say you’re from New Hampshire.

3. Maine

Maine|Me, ME

Population: 1,332,813
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 854
Households with kids: 2552.0%
More On Maine: Photos | Rent

We unpack our things in Maine, where it smells of pine needles. Why Maine, you say? After all, isn’t in the 4th most boring state in America? Yes, it is. Isn’t it fairly expensive you say? Not really, it’s about average.

What really makes Maine a great place to raise a family are the non-exciting things that a responsible parent pays attention to. There are hardly any violent crimes way up here, which makes sense – much of the chaos is way down the coast. Families have great health coverage in Maine, and life expectancy is really high. Air pollution is really low, and and water quality’s great. And schools are some of the most consistently solid in all the land.

4. Nebraska

Nebraska|Ne, NE

Population: 1,904,760
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 700
Households with kids: 3169.0%
More On Nebraska: Photos | Rent

If you already live in Nebraska, you know – this is a great place for families. It’s practically all butterflies and rainbows around these parts when it comes to pace of life. And Nebraska is second only to Iowa when it comes to cost of living. There would be lots of other kids to play with, too – Nebraska has the most number of families with children of any other state on this list. As long as you’re not moving to Nebraska to start a farm, your kids would have plenty of playmates.

Omaha and Lincoln each have plenty of family friendly stuff going on, so you won’t completely die of boredom. But, mom and dad, you’re likely going to lose that beach body at some point – Nebraskans aren’t necessarily the healthiest people in the land. Perhaps, it’s the long winter months indoors, or all the bread pudding, cornhuskers’ casserole and fried tenderloins.

You’ll be happy, pudgy proud parents sitting on your porches, watching the fireflies.

5. Iowa

Iowa|Ia, IA

Population: 3,132,499
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 1299
Households with kids: 2988.0%
More On Iowa: Photos | Rent

Do you like wide open spaces? How about small town life? Enjoy meat and potatoes? Then Iowa is a place you and your family would LOVE.

Here, families earn the 5th highest incomes, per capita, relative to cost of living. Which means, Iowans aren’t necessarily ballers, but they bring home more than enough bacon to cover their mortgages and car payments. Iowa has the most affordable housing costs in all the land, too. Iowa is also really safe – so you wouldn’t have to worry about the ghetto crap you see in large urban areas.

For fun – meeeh. It’s not South Dakota boring, but you’d have to lower your standards if you’re used to all the big city hootin and hollerin. It’s a different kind of fun – you learn to take pride in your small town lifestyle here.

6. South Dakota

South-Dakota|Sd, SD

Population: 864,289
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 427
Households with kids: 3009.0%
More On South Dakota: Photos | Rent

The bad news first: Obviously, the ‘fun’ factor is through the floor. South Dakota ranks 6th to last in a recent ‘fun’ index ranking. Sure, you have enough to keep the kids entertained during the week, but for family vacations, you gotta get creative.

But, did you know South Dakota has the second lowest child care costs? I did not know that Mappy, but that’s a good point. Mom and dad will be fired up about that. Mom can pump em out and not have to worry about putting such a big strain on the family budget. And life expectancy in South Dakota is 8th highest in the US. So mom and dad can get all old and gray and crabby.

Does dad fish? They have great fishing. Ask the people who live in South Dakota. It’s a great place to raise a family. Just don’t bring your BS with you, and you’ll fit right in.

7. Wyoming

Wyoming|Wy, WY

Population: 581,836
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 262
Households with kids: 3001.0%
More On Wyoming: Photos | Rent

While the long, dusty expanses of Wyoming might make your kids want to stab their eyeballs out of boredom. The kids won’t be happy about it, but they’ll adjust.

Now, there’s not as much ‘fun’ stuff for kids to do here as in other places, but overall, Wyoming rocks when it comes to the stuff parents care about. There are great hospitals here, especially children’s hospital – so when you get sick, you don’t have to worry about long lines and other BS as much as you do in states like California. In terms of affordability, Wyoming will let your savings account head in the right direction – up. As you may know, homes cost a lot less here than they do in places like Florida.

For fun, the kids will just have to learn to love sledding, ice skating and getting in snowball fights. What’s wrong with that? There isn’t a state within 200 miles where you’d find a better combination of safety, great schools and happy, healthy homes.

8. North Dakota

North-Dakota|Nd, ND

Population: 752,201
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 422
Households with kids: 2774.0%
More On North Dakota: Photos | Rent

Good news everyone! We’re here at our new home in North Dakota. Time to get out of this godforsaken moving truck once and for all.

If you thought South Dakota is a state full of vim and vigor, wait until you experience the stimulating state of North Dakota! Okay, seriously, the wife and kids will probably never talk to you again if you move them here, but at least YOU get to experience all the cost savings and peace of mind of living in the Roughrider State.

Cost of living wise, North Dakota is the best on this list, which is the main reason hardly anyone here lives in poverty. That’s also one big reason North Dakota has the nation’s lowest divorce rate, outside of Utah. There are many other factors that make North Dakota a great place to raise your family. The quality of the schools is great – and the schools are a big part of families’ lives in North Dakota – more so than most other places you could call home.

People in North Dakota live there because they like the peace and quiet. So no late night parties in these parts, mister.

9. Connecticut

Connecticut|Ct, CT

Population: 3,581,504
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 833
Households with kids: 2978.0%
More On Connecticut: Photos | Rent

Connecticut has a lot going for it. Outside of Hartford, Waterbury, and Bridgeport, many people think it’s a wonderful place. And the data backs it up. Connecticut ranks in the top 20 for every single category measured. It’s not the most boring place in the nation by any stretch, the hospitals and schools are pretty great — and Connecticut socio economics rank is actually one of the highest in America, taking into account family value type measurements like divorce rates, quality of jobs, and family incomes.

Connecticut is the 5th safest state to live. And there’s a lot of money and success here, too. Meaning your kids would have a lot of opportunities – especially if they want to be bankers.

10. Massachusetts

Massachusetts|Ma, MA

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,830,193
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 1550
Households with kids: 2942.0%
More On Massachusetts: Photos | Rent

We unpack our moving truck in the tenth state on our list, Massachusetts. Hope we remembered to pack the snow boots, because it’s gonna be cold again this winter. What makes Massachusetts such a good place to raise kids? A lot of things, actually.

Massachusetts ranks third in both health and safety and in education and child care. This means the quality of the schools is super, there are plenty of day cares in the state, and health care is just about as good as you’ll get. Now, Massachusetts is one of the few states on our list today that’s considered ‘fun.’ Everyone’s definition of fun is different, but we’ll assume that states where there’s a bunch of other kids running around is ‘fun’ as are states with attractions like amusement parks, recreational leagues, and parks.

Not that kids these days leave the damn couch. All they do is stare at their phones anymore.

How We Determined The Best States to Raise A Family in America For 2020

When the folks at HomeSnacks analyze a place to live, we look at statistics you can find anywhere online. You can get any demographic on anyone out there. You only have to sort it and look at it a certain way.

For this analysis we took into account the — U.S. Census’s 2014-2018 ACS. The census compiles the best set of geographical data on for populations in each state.

We combined their data with College Scorecard data and the FBI to reach the following set of items:

  • Number of colleges nearby
  • Population density
  • Quality of education
  • Crime
  • Healthcare
  • Jobs (or lack of them)

Specifically, this analysis bases the rankings on the assumption that states with qualities we’d all agree are desirable would be the best places for families to live. We ranked each state for each one of the categories and averaged them out to create a “Family Index”. The state that came out the best for families? Vermont.

You can download the data here.

There You Have It — The Best States in America to Raise a Family For 2020

After measuring pretty much every category we could think of to decide which states are best, it’s clear – the northeast and midwest are awesome places to raise kids and settle down. If you already live in one of these states, consider yourself lucky. If you’re thinking about moving away for a job, or to get a fresh start, these are your best starting points.

What else do these states have in common? They are the least diverse states, too. So, if you want your kids to grow up in a community with varying viewpoints, than you should take them to places like California or Texas.

While it’s good news for the states we mentioned, we have to throw some love at the worst states to raise a family in America. If you live in Florida, Arizona, or South Carolina, you’ve certainly got some great areas. But overall, there’s a lot to be desired.

But it could be worse. You could live in Alaska.

Here’s a quick look at the bottom of the list:

  1. Florida
  2. Nevada
  3. Arizona

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best States To Raise A Family In America For 2020

Rank State Population Amenity Score
1 Vermont 624,977 554
2 New Hampshire 1,343,622 660
3 Maine 1,332,813 871
4 Nebraska 1,904,760 682
5 Iowa 3,132,499 1294
6 South Dakota 864,289 424
7 Wyoming 581,836 254
8 North Dakota 752,201 406
9 Connecticut 3,581,504 822
10 Massachusetts 6,830,193 1561
11 Idaho 1,687,809 388
12 West Virginia 1,829,054 439
13 Kansas 2,908,776 973
14 Rhode Island 1,056,611 288
15 New Jersey 8,881,845 1168
16 Minnesota 5,527,358 957
17 Wisconsin 5,778,394 1372
18 Kentucky 4,440,204 683
19 Montana 1,041,732 423
20 Virginia 8,413,774 1195
21 Oklahoma 3,918,137 792
22 Pennsylvania 12,791,181 1735
23 Mississippi 2,988,762 373
24 Alaska 738,516 301
25 New York 19,618,453 2112
26 Illinois 12,821,497 1820
27 Indiana 6,637,426 1026
28 Ohio 11,641,879 1472
29 Utah 3,045,350 311
30 Michigan 9,957,488 1547
31 Hawaii 1,422,029 230
32 Oregon 4,081,943 764
33 Missouri 6,090,062 1028
34 New Mexico 2,092,434 505
35 Delaware 949,495 203
36 Arkansas 2,990,671 460
37 Alabama 4,864,680 791
38 Colorado 5,531,141 842
39 Georgia 10,297,484 865
40 North Carolina 10,155,624 1030
41 Maryland 6,003,435 738
42 Texas 27,885,195 1801
43 Tennessee 6,651,089 874
44 Washington 7,294,336 919
45 California 39,148,760 1584
46 Louisiana 4,663,616 559
47 South Carolina 4,955,925 518
48 Arizona 6,946,685 629
49 Nevada 2,922,849 241
50 Florida 20,598,139 1291

Family Places By State

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

4 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST States To Raise A Family In America, 2020

  1. Dont go to Oregon! Crime rate very high. Lot of Auto accidents. Way to much congestion even in housing areas traffic is backed up, Oh & they do pay Taxes believe it.

  2. Unless you can afford to have one parent stay home to care for children and/or hire a nanny (tough on Maine’s average household income), don’t bring a young family to Maine. There is a severe childcare crisis, especially for children younger than 2. There is a severe shortage of childcare, up to a year waiting lists, severe lack of quality, operating hours that don’t meet the needs of working families, etc.

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