One of the best parts about growing old in a city is how connected you become to the area around you. After decades of living in the same place, you’ve had time to develop a support network and adjust to the intricacies of living there. It becomes home in the truest sense of the word.
But deciding where to put down roots can be tricky—especially if you have a family. You want to expose your children to as many different experiences and ideas as possible, keeping them stimulated and giving them opportunities to learn and grow. You also want to live somewhere affordable.
Usually, that means finding a city that has just begun to blossom into a major destination. You want a town on the rise, somewhere with lots of potential and few of the pitfalls found in a major metropolis.
Here are some of the best spots for young families in 2018.
1. Madison, WI
Surrounded by five lakes, Madison is a sight to see in the summer and offers plenty of outdoor activities for young families. The home of the University of Wisconsin, Madison has become one of the biggest cities in the midwest while still being a perfect spot to raise your kids.
U.S. News and World Report gave Madison top marks for value and say the average resident only has a 20-minute commute—not bad for a city with 620,000 people.
2. Dallas, TX
The sprawling city of Dallas is not only home to the best Tex-Mex you’ll ever find, but also great school districts, affordable housing, and a plethora of children’s activities.
“It is the perfect mix between between suburbs and the city,” said former Dallas resident and financial planner Kevin Matthews. “You get the size and space of the suburbs and the conveniences and events found in large areas.”
The northeast town of Plano is just slightly outside of the Dallas city limits, and a great option if you crave a more secluded area.
3. Raleigh, NC
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and lies within a 30-minute drive of some of the best colleges around—Duke, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State.
With such a strong college connection, it’s no surprise that Raleigh has become a hot spot for young families. Elle Martinez of Couple Money loves the city because she can find lots of free activities to do with her two kids.
“We bought a place less than 10 minutes from downtown that’s in a quiet neighborhood, has plenty of yard space, and a huge basement for less than $160,000,” she said.
4. Minneapolis, MN
In recent years, people have started to look past Minneapolis’ cold weather to appreciate the city for what it has to offer: Good infrastructure, beautiful lakes, and access to a top arts and culture scene.
“You can spend the day boating and relaxing by the lake, then zip downtown for a concert or dinner,” said Susan Jensch of Modern Suzy. “It’s a great home base for all types of adventures.”
Jensch says all types of families can find their community in Minneapolis, from “crunchy to mainstream.”
5. Sioux Falls, SD
Both healthcare and finance companies make their home in Sioux Falls, where their employees find low housing prices, easy commutes, and plenty of museums, concerts, and art galleries. The city has more than 70 beautiful parks and greenways, perfect for active families with high-energy kids.
Residents of Sioux Falls can take advantage of South Dakota’s low tax rate, another reason why families find the city so far affordable.
6. Omaha, NE
John Schmoll of Frugal Rules says families love Omaha s for their open school district, where parents can choose a school based on their children’s needs, not just on their neighborhood.
But that’s not the only reason. Omaha has a low cost-of-living, high-paying jobs, and plenty of activities that young kids like—including an award-winning zoo.
“Omaha also has a great mix of rural, suburban, and city living so you can choose to live where you like, while also getting the benefits of living in a larger city,” Schmoll said.
7. Seattle, WA
Most people know Seattle is home to Microsoft and an ever-growing tech scene. While job growth in some parts of the country is slowing down, Seattle is still the third-best city to find work, according to Glassdoor.
That’s not the only reason why young families put up with Seattle’s exorbitant housing prices. Playing outdoors is easy in the Emerald City, with abundant hiking paths and bike trails. A progressive culture, top-notch restaurants, and a light-rail system are also part of why young parents love living in Seattle.
8. Des Moines, IA
In 2014, the Today Show said that Des Moines was the best city in the country where “regular folks live the rich life”. Why Des Moines? It has the affordability of a Midwest city, along with the varied cultural options young families crave.
Residents between 25 and 34 make up the biggest group of new homebuyers, largely because the median home cost is only $168,873. The city also has a lower than average crime rate.
9. Nashville, TN
For years, Nashville was a sleepy town only known for being home to country music’s greatest. Now it’s begun to explode in popularity, while still remaining a solid choice for young families.
Good schools, a moderate Southern climate, and a bustling arts scene make it popular with young families. Plus, Tennessee has no state income tax, another perk to living in the Music City.
10. Indianapolis, IN
Once known as “Nap Town,” this Midwest capital is slowly becoming a prime destination for young families. Housing prices are still affordable and have a median value of $142,300, 30% less than the national average. Plus, the Indy suburbs have no shortage of excellent schools to take advantage of.
Sports fans can also find a reason to cheer in Indy, which is home to NBA and NFL teams, the Indy500 and college favorites Purdue and IU nearby. The NCAA headquarters is also located downtown, with the NCAA Hall of Champions nearby.
There are plenty of cities that offer a ton of culture plus low rents/mortgages. Whether you’re looking for a moderate climate, a place for sports fans, or a more liberal city, these ten options offer a little something for everyone.