For the family list, “WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 46 key metrics that consider essential family dynamics, such as the cost of housing, the quality of local school and health-care systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation,” they said.
The real estate list establishes “the best local real-estate markets in the U.S.,” by comparing “300 cities of varying sizes across 22 key indicators of housing-market attractiveness and economic strength,” they said. “Our data set ranges from median home-price appreciation to home sales turnover rate to job growth.”
Evaluating both lists, three cities stand out: Irvine, CA; Seattle, WA; and Boise, ID.
Moving to Irvine
Irvine’s total 70.74 score for their No. 2 ranking on the Best Cities for Families list includes:
No. 28 for Family Fun
No. 3 for Health and Safety
No. 3 for Education and Child Care
No. 49 for Affordability
No. 4 for Socio-Economics
The city’s No. 27 rank on the Best Real Estate Markets list breaks down like this:
A total 67.58 score
No. 40 for Real Estate Market
No. 27 for Affordability and Economic
In their look at the Best Places to Live, Time: Money noted: “It’s no wonder people flock to Irvine; it boasts high-paying jobs, stellar public schools and a quick 10-mile drive to the coast. Plus, for 11 years running, the FBI has named this family-oriented Orange County city one of the safest in the country.”
They also point out the desirability of Irvine’s family friendly neighborhoods or villages. “Homes in each surround a neighborhood park, playground and pool, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside the pool on a hot summer day,” they said. “On weekends, Irvine’s bike paths are also busy; more than 350 miles of on- and off-street bike lanes connect all corners of the city.”
Irvine ranked 15th on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Places to Live in the United States list, which was created to “highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability,” said Patch. “The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially.”
That affordability is relative, however. The city is No. 49 for Affordability on the family list and No. 27 for affordability on the Best Real Estate Markets list, and while that makes it
less pricey than some other California cities, it may be a rude awakening for those coming from other parts of the country.
Still, if you can afford it, Livability says you’ll love living in this city that “consistently ranks as one of our Best Places to Live” thanks to “an average temperature of 71 degrees,” its focus on technology, “more than 16,000 acres of parks and open space…and access to three top medical facilities.”
Moving to Seattle
Seattle’s total 63.44 score for their No. 15 ranking on the Best Cities for Families list includes:
No. 47 for Family Fun
No. 37 for Health and Safety
No. 25 for Education and Child Care
No. 27 for Affordability
No. 59 for Socio-Economics
Seattle is No. 8 on the real estate market list with a 72.16 score, including:
No. 3 for Real Estate Market
No. 171 for Affordability and Economic
Looking at that last number and shaking your head? Yes, Seattle is expensive. The cost of living “isn’t as high as it is in that other West Coast tech hub, but it isn’t exactly low either,” said SmartAsset. “What’s more, as a result of rapid population growth in recent years…living costs have been rising quickly. If you’re in the market for buying a home, be prepared to face a lot of competition.”
But those who live there (and love it) think there are enough upsides to make the price points worth it. Mostly. Here are some pros and cons of living in Seattle according to SmartAsset:
“Seattle is a city unlike any other,” they said. Nestled between the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, along the shores of the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, its natural beauty causes many who visit to wish they could stay forever.”
There’s no state income tax (but there is a high sales tax rate).
“Seattle has the country’s best summers. They’re warm and dry, with low humidity and lots of sunshine. It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the many natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, like Olympic National Park or the San Juan islands.”
That rain may not be so bad. “Usually when it rains in Seattle, it comes down as a mist. Seattleites don’t even bother flipping the hood on the raincoat they probably purchased at REI. The real problem is the gloom. Seattle has more cloudy days than almost any other U.S. city, and its far-northern location means winter days are especially short.” If you start to get down when you haven’t seen the sun for a day, Seattle might really affect you.
The aforementioned population explosion. “In 2000, the population of Seattle was about 560,000. Today, the population has grown to more than 660,000. That’s 100,000 new residents in 15 years, and the growth shows no signs of slowing down, with tech companies like Google, Facebook and especially Amazon planning on increasing their hiring in the city. That has downsides, like the competitive rental market and the gridlocked streets, but it also has upsides. For example, as a new arrival, you shouldn’t have any problem meeting people who are also getting acquainted with the city.”
Lots of local sports team with fervent fans.
Bad traffic but decent public transportation. “If you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive, Seattle’s public transportation system should get you where you need to go.”
And, of course, some serious coffee. This is the birthplace of Starbucks, after all.
Moving to Boise
Boise scores a total of 63.26 on the Best Cities for Families list for a No. 17 ranking and gets:
No. 17 for Family Fun
No. 18 for Health and Safety
No. 169 for Education and Child Care
No. 8 for Affordability
No. 55 for Socio-Economics
On the Best Real Estate Markets list, it comes in at No. 19, which breaks down as:
A 68.95 score
No. 23 for Real Estate Market
No. 40 for Affordability and Economic
If you’re thinking about a move to Boise, it’s important to note that the city ranks highly on US News’ Best Places to Live as well as its Best Places to Retire lists.
“Boise is a recreationalist’s paradise,” said US News. “If you value the outdoors and time spent among rivers, mountains, canyons, deserts and lakes — and all the activities encapsulated therein — it’s worth a serious look.
In addition, the city has a “booming” downtown area with ample new construction, “locally sourced food and drink,” and ample entertainment options. “Idaho’s capital sits squarely on the boundary of urban and rural, civilized and wild, refined and raw. Yes, there are wilder places. Yes, there are more urbane places. But Boise is a good place to live if you enjoy easy access to both.”
Local radio personality Jeremy Hobson from Here & Now weighed in on whether “Boise is the next Portland” on WBUR, saying: “Boise’s cultural cachet is growing as tourists and new residents seek out its unique food and music scenes, as well as its low cost-of-living.”
Boise’s lower cost of living is a huge driver for those moving to the city, as is its reputation as a safe city, and changing economic landscape. “People really like to come here, especially from the tech sector. That is changing the look and feel of Boise. For a long time, Boise has been kind of ‘flyover country,’ and that is changing in a big way.”