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Best places to raise a family in the Midwest

  • Best places to raise a family in the Midwest

    One of the best measures of success is one’s quality of life. Measured as the personal and economic security and level of happiness one has in their life, this is largely a product of one’s environment. Access to quality schools, a strong assortment of amenities, good local jobs, safe streets, and a strong sense of community are all important.

    Many, however, must make a compromise. One can find affordable housing, for example, in a small town, but usually has to sacrifice ready access to jobs or reasonable crime rates. Communities that tick all the boxes are rare.

    These communities are typically suburbs of large cities that house highly affluent professionals who make up a tax base large enough to support the best schools, well-paid police officers, additional job infrastructure, and amenities that would draw more wealthy residents. This continues to grow the tax base, creating a self-feeding loop that leads these communities to be the best areas available to live.

    To help families of all stages take a data-driven approach to finding the best communities within the Midwest, Stacker looked to Niche's 2019 Best Places to Raise a Family, which 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 strongly (full methodology here).

    The Midwest consists of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin. 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.

    Keep reading to learn if your community made the list.

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  • #50. Sioux Falls, SD

    - Population: 170,401
    - Median home value: $168,600 (61% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $771 (39% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $56,714
    - Educational attainment: 11% masters or higher, 23% bachelors, 32% some college, 34% high school or less

    Sioux Falls is the most populous city in South Dakota. Formerly the center of a vast agricultural and mineral extraction region, the city has diversified—in part due to the state’s lack of a state-based corporate income tax and because it is the only major city in the region prior to Minneapolis.

  • #49. Fargo, ND

    - Population: 118,099
    - Median home value: $190,200 (43% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $765 (57% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $50,561
    - Educational attainment: 11% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 35% some college, 26% high school or less

    Fargo is the most populous city in North Dakota. The twin city of Moorhead, Minn., it is the home of North Dakota State University, The city is the cultural, educational, and industrial hub of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

  • #48. West Fargo, ND

    - Population: 33,089
    - Median home value: $217,400 (68% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $826 (32% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $76,925
    - Educational attainment: 12% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 38% some college, 23% high school or less

    West Fargo is a bordering suburb of Fargo. The fifth-largest city in North Dakota by population, West Fargo is a densely populated suburb, according to Niche, that has a relatively high crime rate but ranks well with diversity, public schools, jobs available, and cost of living. Over two-thirds of the city’s population lives in homes that are owned rather than rented.

  • #47. Brookings, SD

    - Population: 23,471
    - Median home value: $169,400 (49% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $699 (51% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $47,506
    - Educational attainment: 18% masters or higher, 27% bachelors, 26% some college, 29% high school or less

    Brookings is the fourth-largest city in South Dakota by population. The home of South Dakota State University, the largest university in the state, Brookings is a college town. The second-best place to live in South Dakota, according to Niche, Brookings has great schools and an average rent of $99-$250 less than the national average.

    [Pictured: Brookings County Playground.]

  • #46. La Vista, NE

    - Population: 17,062
    - Median home value: $141,100 (56% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $939 (44% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $63,034
    - Educational attainment: 9% masters or higher, 23% bachelors, 39% some college, 28% high school or less

    A suburb of Omaha, La Vista is a relatively new city in Sarpy County, Neb. Incorporated in 1960, the city has a population of 17,062. Per Niche, La Vista has 29.5 assaults per 100,000 residents, compared to an average of 282.7 nationally. However, the city has a rape rate double the national average.

    [Pictured: La Vista Public Library.]

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  • #45. Clive, IA

    - Population: 17,134
    - Median home value: $243,200 (78% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $920 (22% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $94,907
    - Educational attainment: 19% masters or higher, 36% bachelors, 25% some college, 20% high school or less

    Clive, Iowa, is a city in the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area, with the city being center among Des Moines’ western suburbs. The city is known for its Greenbelt Park and Trail system, which stretches out for 11.3 miles. While housing costs are at par with national averages, the city has an overwhelming home ownership rate, low crime, and some of the best schools in the region.

  • #44. Waukee, IA

    - Population: 17,980
    - Median home value: $211,100 (78% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,051 (22% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $91,875
    - Educational attainment: 15% masters or higher, 39% bachelors, 28% some college, 18% high school or less

    Another part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area, Waukee is a fast-growing city in central Iowa. In 2017, the city was awarded a $1.38 billion data center campus from Apple. The city is thought to be named after Milwaukee, Wis.

  • #43. Kirkwood, MO

    - Population: 27,659
    - Median home value: $273,900 (75% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,031 (25% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $79,439
    - Educational attainment: 28% masters or higher, 35% bachelors, 22% some college, 15% high school or less

    Kirkwood is a western suburb of St. Louis in Missouri. The first planned suburb west of the Mississippi River, the city was built following the St. Louis Fire of 1849 as a way to escape the cholera outbreaks that bookended the disaster. The city was placed on the planned new line for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The suburb is home to one of the campuses of St. Louis Community College, the largest community college in Missouri.

  • #42. Brookfield, WI

    - Population: 37,943
    - Median home value: $296,800 (87% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,496 (13% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $101,761
    - Educational attainment: 26% masters or higher, 35% bachelors, 21% some college, 17% high school or less

    Brookfield is a western suburb of Milwaukee. The home of Fiserv, a financial services technology business, and FedEx’s SmartPost, the city was the home of infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone. Like many suburbs, the city switched from agricultural use to commercial use and rapidly expanded post-World War II in the baby boom.

  • #41. Forest Hills, MI

    - Population: 27,599
    - Median home value: $306,400 (94% of residents own)
    - Median rent: $1,407 (6% of residents rent)
    - Median household income: $114,438
    - Educational attainment: 28% masters or higher, 37% bachelors, 20% some college, 14% high school or less

    Forest Hills is an unincorporated community that encompasses almost all of Ada Township in Michigan. A bedroom community for Grand Rapids, the community has arguably the best schools in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area.

    [Pictured: Thornapple River which runs through Forest Hills, MI.]

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