Best places to raise a family in the Northeast
The average American will move 11.4 times during his or her lifetime. These transitions are often influenced by job prospects or loss, the chance to upgrade into a larger home or the need to downsize, or—quite commonly—family planning. Families staking out a place to lay down roots reportedly analyze several factors when choosing a location ranging from economic prosperity to amenities and education systems.
Some parents flock to cities to raise their children, noting shorter commute times (which means more time to spend with spouses and children), world-class culture and museums on their doorstep, and the opportunity to meet more people with different life experiences. For others, rural towns are well-suited for raising kids. Studies have shown that more young professionals are moving to smaller towns and away from large urban areas. Families might be attracted to the lower crime rates in rural places, as well as the perception of a tight-knit community, peace and quiet, more time outside, and better air quality.
Fortunately, the northeastern region of the United States offers plenty of family-friendly locations sure to please any kid.
To help house-hunting parents find the best Northeast communities for their kids, Stacker looked to Niche's 2019 Best Places to Raise a Family that evaluates dozens of important components. Public schools have the heaviest weight among the considerations included, while crime and safety, cost of living, demographics, and community resources all factor in strongly (you can read Niche’s full methodology here). Locations are ranked in reverse order, with the #1 spot reserved for the top-ranked place to raise a family.
The Northeast comprises the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Only locations with populations exceeding 5,000 people were considered. To offer representation throughout the Northeast, at least two locations were included from every state.
Read on to find out why these towns and cities have a stellar reputation for being family friendly—and if you already live in one of the top 50.
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#50. North Star, DE
- Population: 7,390
- Median home value: $435,300 (95% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,891 (5% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $141,618
- Educational attainment: 32% masters or higher, 36% bachelors, 16% some college, 15% high school or less
North Star is consistently ranked among the best places to live in Delaware. The town is just 43 miles from Philadelphia, making it a popular choice for commuters and job seekers alike. Former Vice President Joe Biden lived in North Star with his wife and children when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972.
#49. Pike Creek, DE
- Population: 8,740
- Median home value: $321,100 (91% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,715 (9% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $122,772
- Educational attainment: 36% masters or higher, 29% bachelors, 20% some college, 15% high school or less
Within New Castle County, Pike Creek ranks first for healthy behaviors and second for health outcomes in Delaware. Residents of Pike Creek maintain a healthy lifestyle, with 77% of the adult population reporting that their leisure time involves physical activity. Additionally, 83% of people living in Pike Creek report being non-smokers, and 73% of adults reporting a healthy Body Mass Index. Pike Creek is home to Carousel Farm Park & Equestrian Center and just four miles from White Clay Creek State Park, which offers year-round fishing, hiking and bike trails, and events from hayrides to “owl prowls”.
#48. South Burlington, VT
- Population: 18,773
- Median home value: $280,800 (62% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,395 (38% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $66,197
- Educational attainment: 22% masters or higher, 32% bachelors, 24% some college, 22% high school or less
Families in South Burlington, Vt., have no shortage of things to do. Residents and visitors flock to the town’s Red Rocks Park for its public beach and swimming area, as well as the 100-acre park’s hiking trails, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing areas. South Burlington has things to do for Mom and Dad, too: The popular Magic Hat Brewing Company is headquartered in South Burlington and offers tours of the brewery as well as beers and snacks.
#47. Shelburne, VT
- Population: 7,677
- Median home value: $400,000 (71% of residents own)
- Median rent: $2,065 (29% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $100,705
- Educational attainment: 35% masters or higher, 31% bachelors, 20% some college, 13% high school or less
Shelburne, Vt., was incorporated in 1763 and is located alongside scenic Lake Champlain. The town’s family-friendly attractions include the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and the Shelburne Museum that showcases American folk art and lush gardens. In the fall, families can also visit Shelburne Orchards, where you can pick your own apples and indulge in fresh apple cider donuts and hayrides.
#46. Amherst, NH
- Population: 11,241
- Median home value: $335,000 (92% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,592 (8% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $127,246
- Educational attainment: 28% masters or higher, 37% bachelors, 22% some college, 13% high school or less
Amherst, N.H., is home to Baboosic Lake Town Beach, which offers a place to swim, relax or play in the sand, and play volleyball on one of the lake’s beach volleyball courts. The park is only open to Amherst residents and season pass holders on the weekends and holidays, giving the local beach a tight-knit community vibe. For adults in Amherst, LaBelle Winery offers breathtaking landscapes, vineyard tours, live music, and even yoga classes.
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#45. East Greenwich, RI
- Population: 13,094
- Median home value: $424,600 (77% of residents own)
- Median rent: $870 (23% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $108,828
- Educational attainment: 28% masters or higher, 34% bachelors, 19% some college, 19% high school or less
East Greenwich, R.I., is known for its renowned school district and award-winning academics. In 2016, East Greenwich High School was the only high school in Rhode Island to land on Newsweek’s America’s Top High Schools list (the school ranked on that list in 2015, as well, and made U.S. News’ Best High Schools for 2019) and boasts a graduation rate of 97%. The town is also home to a New England Institute of Technology campus that underwent a massive expansion starting in 2014.
#44. Barrington, RI
- Population: 16,218
- Median home value: $402,300 (89% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,407 (11% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $117,408
- Educational attainment: 36% masters or higher, 32% bachelors, 18% some college, 14% high school or less
Coastal Barrington, R.I., has a rich colonial history: The town was home for colonials who arrived in North America onboard Mayflower the Mayflower. Today, Barrington is steeped in arts, culture, historic places, nature trails, and year-round activities for families. In 2015, Barrington’s Archie R. Cole Middle School was named a National Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor given to schools by the U.S. Education Department.
#43. Cumberland, Maine
- Population: 7,695
- Median home value: $364,400 (84% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,063 (16% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $112,604
- Educational attainment: 28% masters or higher, 36% bachelors, 21% some college, 15% high school or less
Community-oriented Cumberland, Maine, boasts activities for its residents year-round, from a Memorial Day parade to start the summer to an outdoor concert series to golf and tennis at Val Halla Recreation Center, and to Broad Cove Reserve, where people can splash and enjoy the coastline. There are several other opportunities to enjoy nature in Cumberland, including Knight’s Pond Preserve, Rines Forest, and the Town Forest.
#42. Cape Elizabeth, Maine
- Population: 9,235
- Median home value: $388,200 (88% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,060 (12% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $106,157
- Educational attainment: 27% masters or higher, 41% bachelors, 23% some college, 8% high school or less
Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is a small but scenic town on the coast of the state that prioritizes family and community engagement. Each year in June, Cape Elizabeth holds a Family Fun Day at Fort Williams Park, where events include a parade, live music, carnival games, and fireworks. The town is also within commuting distance of Portland, making it an ideal location for families with working parents.
#41. Hanover, NH
- Population: 11,428
- Median home value: $539,900 (67% of residents own)
- Median rent: $1,460 (33% of residents rent)
- Median household income: $118,250
- Educational attainment: 49% masters or higher, 32% bachelors, 11% some college, 8% high school or less
Dartmouth College has made Hanover, N.H., an attractive town for people of all ages. Unemployment in the town has been consistently low, and graduates of Dartmouth have spun off their own start-ups in Hanover as well. The town features a number of kid-friendly activities including the Hood Museum of Art, public gardens and walking trails, and the Hanover Conservancy.
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