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Best places to raise a family in the West

  • Best places to raise a family in the West

    The West is full of enticing natural beauty and ample professional opportunities, making it an attractive option for raising a family. With an abundance of jobs across entertainment, tech, and science, there are also many practical reasons to relocate here. The almost-always fantastic weather, entrepreneurial opportunities, focus on health, and peaceful lifestyle are just the start of why raising a family in the West can be beneficial.

    But where in the West suits your family best? Choosing a place to raise a family comes with a number of considerations including the basics: cost of living, incomes in the area, quality of the public school system. And then there are the lifestyle considerations: the feel of the area, population density, safety, family activities, walkability of the town. It can be difficult—and to be honest, quite daunting—to find a place that checks off all the boxes, but there are neighborhoods, towns, and cities that fit everyone’s lifestyle and needs.

    To help families of all stages take a data-driven approach to finding the best communities within the American West, Stacker looked to Niche's 2019 Best Places to Raise a Family, which evaluates dozens of important components to raising a family. Public schools have the heaviest weight among the considerations included, while crime and safety, cost of living, demographics, and community resources all factor strongly (full methodology here).

    The following states were considered for this piece: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Only places with populations of over 10,000 were considered, with at least two places from every state included to offer representation for all states. Click ahead to see the best places in the West that will allow your family to thrive.

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  • #50. Helena, MT

    - Population: 30,345
    - Median home value: $220,100 (54% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $797 (46% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $53,892
    - Educational attainment: 17% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 30% some college, 26% high school or less

    Rife with history, Helena is a wonderful place to live, especially for families who like to be active outdoors. With opportunities for families to enjoy fishing, hiking, boating, camping, kayaking, and skiing nearby, families can make the most of their time together. The many outdoor activities are just a bonus to the affordable housing market.

  • #49. Spanish Springs, NV

    - Population: 16,458
    - Median home value: $301,300 (86% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,510 (14% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $85,050
    - Educational attainment: 8% masters or higher, 14% bachelors, 44% some college, 34% high school or less

    With a small population and affordable housing options, this city has a small-town feel with the classic draws of a suburban neighborhood (it's north of Reno). The Lazy 5 Regional Park offers summer concerts, water activities, athletic fields, a skate park, and picnic areas.

  • #48. Carson City, NV

    - Population: 54,219
    - Median home value: $217,400 (55% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $868 (45% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $49,341
    - Educational attainment: 9% masters or higher, 13% bachelors, 37% some college, 42% high school or less

    Access to cultural activities and proximity to Lake Tahoe are the main draws of Carson City. With the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada and the Nevada State Railroad Museum, there are several ways to enjoy the local culture with your family. The Carson City School District is also an above-average public school district, with a student-teacher ratio of 19-to-1.

  • #47. Honolulu, HI

    - Population: 402,452
    - Median home value: $688,200 (48% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,441 (52% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $70,527
    - Educational attainment: 14% masters or higher, 24% bachelors, 28% some college, 33% high school or less

    Honolulu is Oahu’s biggest city, and raising a family there comes with all the conveniences of urban life: restaurants, access to shops, activities (including incredible beaches), and schools. Honolulu also has above-average public schools.

  • #46. Mililani Mauka, HI

    - Population: 20,393
    - Median home value: $641,900 (77% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $2,215 (23% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $112,726
    - Educational attainment: 16% masters or higher, 34% bachelors, 31% some college, 18% high school or less

    Named the #1 place to raise a family in Hawaii, Mililani Mauka is in Honolulu County and offers a densely populated suburban feel. There are several well-kept community parks to enjoy outdoor activities, and the public schools are highly rated. The population comprises many working professionals and young families.

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  • #45. Anchorage, AK

    - Population: 298,225
    - Median home value: $304,500 (60% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,261 (40% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $82,271
    - Educational attainment: 13% masters or higher, 22% bachelors, 35% some college, 31% high school or less

    The largest city in Alaska with a population of 300,000, Anchorage still maintains a small-town atmosphere. The cold winters are eased by a welcoming community with many exciting outdoor activities, like skiing, hunting, hiking, fishing, and dog mushing.

  • #44. Laramie, WY

    - Population: 32,104
    - Median home value: $210,600 (44% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $750 (56% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $43,191
    - Educational attainment: 22% masters or higher, 29% bachelors, 30% some college, 19% high school or less

    The #1 best city to raise a family in the state of Wyoming, Laramie offers residents a dense suburban atmosphere with a large rental market. The city has many conveniences of suburban life including easy access to shops, schools, and parks, and the University of Wyoming gives the community youthful vigor as well as cultural cache.

  • #43. Sheridan, WY

    - Population: 17,816
    - Median home value: $211,500 (61% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $795 (39% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $52,666
    - Educational attainment: 12% masters or higher, 19% bachelors, 38% some college, 31% high school or less

    With a mixed population of retirees, young professionals, and families, Sheridan offers a slow-paced suburban lifestyle for those with children. Affordable homes and highly rated public schools make for a convenient place to live with plentiful access to pharmacies, coffee shops, restaurants, and stores.

  • #42. Moscow, ID

    - Population: 24,833
    - Median home value: $216,700 (41% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $669 (59% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $35,979
    - Educational attainment: 26% masters or higher, 32% bachelors, 27% some college, 14% high school or less

    Take a stroll with the family down to the Moscow Farmers Market or check out the foliage at the University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden. Between the beautiful Latah Trail Bike Path, the Appaloosa Museum & Heritage Center, and the nearby Wolf Lodge Campgrounds, there are plenty of activities to do with children both indoors and outdoors.

  • #41. Boise, ID

    - Population: 220,859
    - Median home value: $206,800 (60% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $875 (40% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $54,547
    - Educational attainment: 14% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 33% some college, 27% high school or less

    Boise has a lot of outdoor activities for families, including birding at the World Center for Birds of Prey, biking the Boise River Greenbelt, and strolling through the Idaho Botanical Garden. This city is definitely a cultural hub of Idaho, with many vibrant neighborhoods that have their own unique personalities.

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