There are probably no tougher or more important decisions to make in life than where to live and where to work.
America is a mobile society, and the average American can expect to move an estimated 11.7 times during his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Families and individuals move for a wide range of reasons, but typically, it’s to take or find a new job and to try to enhance their lifestyle and opportunities to prosper. Choosing the right city frequently is a highly complex and mindboggling decision to make.
“There has been both experimental and quasi experimental research that shows that the place that people live – both for poor families and for middle class families -- has an effect on how children do in school, on children’s and adults’ health, and on their psychological well-being,” said Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor on counseling, developmental and educational psychology at Boston College.
Analysts say that moving can be a sign of either opportunity, like landing a new, higher paying job or long term accumulation of wealth, or of instability, like running from foreclosure or a job loss.
“For many people, it’s not always an active choice,” Coley added in an interview Monday. “Many people don’t have the resources – either the economic resources or the psychological resources, to really make an active and informed decision about where to live. Either we have to go where our job is, or where our families are.”
With about 40 percent of all moving occurring during the summer months, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Families. WalletHub compared each of the 150 most populated cities using 30 key metrics that take into account essential family dynamics such as the relative cost of housing, the quality of local schools and health care systems, crime rates and safety and the opportunities for fun and recreation.
The analysis showed Overland Park, Kansas, as the number one city in the country for families – followed closely by Plano, Texas, and Virginia Beach, while Jackson, Mississippi drew the short straw as the worst city in the country for families, followed by Birmingham, Ala, and Detroit, Michigan.
“While obviously not perfect – given the intrinsic value of each city, personal preferences and the limitations of publicly available data – our findings will hopefully give prospective movers a sense of which areas offer the greatest opportunity to achieve wallet wellness and, of course, live a long and happy life,” WalletHub’s editors wrote.
Click here to see their five best cities for families.
Click here to see their five worst cities for families.