10 Best States to Raise A Family 2023

Cost of living, health care, rate of violent crimes and six other factors went into this year's ranking of the 10 best states to raise a family.
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By Richard Barrington

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happy family running through field letting kite fly

The decision of where to raise a family is something plenty of parents fret about every year.

This year, the pandemic made it very clear how important location is to a family’s present-day safety and happiness, to their ability to get a quality education, and to the need for broadband that supports job markets and remote learning.

As a result, families in virtually every state in America reconsidered where they live in 2020.

To help parents make their decisions objectively, MoneyRates.com examined nine different factors to identify the best states to live in if you’re trying to raise a family. The study revealed not only how the pandemic increased the challenges of raising a family, but also that stark regional differences exist.

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Top Ten States to Raise a Family

  1. New Jersey
  2. (tie) Massachusetts
  3. (tie) Utah
  4. Connecticut
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Wyoming
  7. (tie) Florida
  8. (tie) Wisconsin
  9. Ohio
  10. New York

How Raising a Family Changed Due to COVID-19

Good parenting is a big determinant of children’s success, but these are some of the new considerations parents face because of the pandemic:

  • With in-person classroom programs being curtailed in many cases, the availability of daycare is even more important than ever.
  • Quality of healthcare has been severely tested by the pandemic, and it will be tested again by the rollout of vaccinations against the coronavirus.
  • Neighborhood amenities such as parks and sidewalks give families options for outdoor activities at a time when many formal recreational programs have been suspended.
  • Broadband connectivity is no longer a luxury. In many parts of the country, it has been essential to allowing schools to continue.

Comparing Conditions for Raising a Family – How Big Are the Differences?

Comparing Conditions for Raising a FamilyOne thing this study highlights is just how large the contrasts between states can be when it comes to conditions for raising children.

It turns out where you live can make a big difference in how much help you get. Here are some examples:

  • Cost of living

    The cost of living in Hawaii is more than twice as high as in 20 other states – an important consideration when it comes to taking on the expense of raising a family.

  • Academic performance

    Average academic performance across three subject areas – math, reading and science – is about 10% higher in Massachusetts than in Alabama

  • Student checking accounts

    A sampling of 100 banks found Florida and New York each have a dozen choices of banks offering special checking accounts for youngsters, while none were found in Hawaii and there was just one in three other states.

  • Cost of college

    The cost of college is a third as much in Wyoming, which is the best state for college affordability, as it is in Vermont, which has the most expensive average public college tuition.

  • Crime rates

    The violent crime rate in Maine is less than one-seventh that of Alaska and New Mexico.

  • Daycare options

    Relative to the number of children in the state under 10 years old, Delaware has over four times as many daycare workers as Utah.

  • Overall health

    Parents in Vermont are over 10% more likely to report their children being in excellent or very good health than parents in Mississippi.

  • Quantity/quality of public spaces

    Neighborhoods in Colorado are over three times more likely as those in Mississippi to have amenities such as parks, sidewalks, libraries and recreation centers.

  • Broadband infrastructure

    Households in Utah and Washington State are over 20% more likely to have broadband than those in Mississippi and five other states.

Methodology and Sources

Here is a description of the nine factors that went into determining the best states for raising children:

  1. Academic performance

    Test scores in grade 8 math, reading and science from the National Assessment of Educational Progress were combined for this ranking.

  2. Availability of youth/student checking accounts

    These rankings were based on an analysis of the latest MoneyRates Checking Account Fee Survey to find the number of banks in each state offering special checking account terms for children or students.

  3. Overall affordability

    This was based on cost-of-living data provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

  4. College affordability

    The College Board’s 2020-2021 academic year figures for in-state tuition at four-year public colleges were the basis for this ranking.

  5. Crime safety

    FBI figures on the rate of violent crimes in each state were used for this assessment.

  6. Access to daycare

    Census Bureau data on the number of daycare professionals and the number of children under ten in each state were used to measure how well daycare supply meets potential demand.

  7. Child health

    Each state was ranked according to the percentage of children reported to be in excellent or very good health on the latest available survey data compiled by the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) from the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health.

  8. Kid-friendly neighborhood amenities

    This ranking was based on the percentage of neighborhoods in each state reported to the NSCH as having each of four different kid-friendly amenities.

  9. Broadband availability

    This was determined by a calculation of the percentage of households in each state with broadband subscriptions, based on Census Bureau data.

Best States to Raise a Family 2021

Best States to Raise a Family 2021Based on the average of each state’s scores across the nine categories listed above, MoneyRates.com selected the ten best states for families raising children:

1. New Jersey

Is family-friendly not what comes to mind when you think of New Jersey? Then consider all it has to offer.

New Jersey is deemed the best state to raise a family because it ranked in the top ten for six of nine categories: academic performance, access to youth checking accounts, safety from violent crime, availability of daycare, child health and access to broadband. It just missed the top ten in the neighborhood amenities category.

The only drawback is cost of living, as New Jersey was one of the ten most expensive states for overall costs and public college tuition.

  • State: New Jersey
  • Overall Rank: 1
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 42
  • Academic Performance Rank: 3
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 4
  • College Affordability Rank: 46
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 5
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 8
  • Child Health Rank: 4
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 11
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 8

2. (tie) Massachusetts

Massachusetts scored the best for academic performance. It also was in the top ten for access to youth checking accounts, availability of daycare, neighborhood amenities and access to broadband.

As with New Jersey, the one drawback in Massachusetts is that it’s expensive. The state is one of the ten costliest overall and for public college tuition.

  • State: Massachusetts
  • Overall Rank: 2
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 46
  • Academic Performance Rank: 1
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 3
  • College Affordability Rank: 42
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 24
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 4
  • Child Health Rank: 14
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 6
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 9

2. (tie) Utah

Not only did Utah earn the top score for broadband access, it also ranked in the top ten for academic performance, college affordability, and neighborhood amenities.

The one knock is that it may be tough to find daycare – Utah ranks dead last in the ratio of daycare workers to children under ten years old in the state.

  • State: Utah
  • Overall Rank: 2
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 24
  • Academic Performance Rank: 3
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 33
  • College Affordability Rank: 3
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 11
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 50
  • Child Health Rank: 22
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 2
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 1

4. Connecticut

Like neighboring Massachusetts, Connecticut is an expensive place to live – but it has several attributes that make it worthwhile.

Connecticut ranked in the top ten for academic performance, access to youth checking, safety from violent crime and availability of daycare.

  • State: Connecticut
  • Overall Rank: 4
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 43
  • Academic Performance Rank: 9
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 10
  • College Affordability Rank: 45
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 3
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 5
  • Child Health Rank: 15
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 14
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 12

5. New Hampshire

A third New England state made the top five states to raise a family with New Hampshire’s fifth-place ranking. New Hampshire was the second-best state in the nation for both academic performance and safety from violent crime.

It also made the top ten for availability of daycare and broadband connectivity. On the downside, it is the second-most expensive state for public college tuition.

  • State: New Hampshire
  • Overall Rank: 5
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 37
  • Academic Performance Rank: 2
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 25
  • College Affordability Rank: 49
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 2
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 3
  • Child Health Rank: 18
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 18
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 4

6. Wyoming

If you’re thinking ahead to sending your kids to college, Wyoming is appealing for a very practical reason: it has the nation’s lowest four-year public college tuition for in-state students. It also ranked in the top ten for academic performance and safety from violent crime.

  • State: Wyoming
  • Overall Rank: 6
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 31
  • Academic Performance Rank: 9
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 39
  • College Affordability Rank: 1
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 8
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 24
  • Child Health Rank: 24
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 12
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 17

7. (tie) Florida

Though the Sunshine State is often associated with retirees, it also has a lot to offer people raising a family. Florida is tied with New York for having the most banks offering youth checking account, and ranked second for affordability of college.

  • State: Florida
  • Overall Rank: 7
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 26
  • Academic Performance Rank: 32
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 1
  • College Affordability Rank: 2
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 29
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 21
  • Child Health Rank: 10
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 27
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 23

7. (tie) Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a top-ten state for both academic performance and child health. It was near or above-median in all nine categories, so there were no glaring negatives as a place to raise children.

  • State: Wisconsin
  • Overall Rank: 7
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 22
  • Academic Performance Rank: 7
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 25
  • College Affordability Rank: 18
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 18
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 16
  • Child Health Rank: 9
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 29
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 27

9. Ohio

While a fourth-place finish for access to youth checking accounts was the only top-ten ranking for Ohio, it narrowly missed the top ten for academic performance.

  • State: Ohio
  • Overall Rank: 9
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 16
  • Academic Performance Rank: 11
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 4
  • College Affordability Rank: 35
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 18
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 29
  • Child Health Rank: 19
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 17
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 25

10. New York

A number-one ranking (tied with Florida) for access to youth checking accounts was New York’s best category performance, and it also ranked in the top ten for college affordability, availability of daycare and neighborhood amenities. Not surprisingly though, New York is also one of the most expensive states for overall costs of living.

  • State: New York
  • Overall Rank: 10
  • Overall Affordability Rank: 48
  • Academic Performance Rank: 34
  • Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank: 1
  • College Affordability Rank: 9
  • Safety from Violent Crime Rank: 26
  • Availability of Daycare Rank: 6
  • Child Health Rank: 21
  • Neighborhood Amenities Rank: 9
  • Broadband Connectivity Rank: 21

Best States for Families – Complete List

The table below shows how all 50 states ranked in each of the above categories.

State Overall Affordability Rank Academic Performance Rank Access to Youth Checking Accounts Rank College Affordability Rank Safety from Violent Crime Rank Availability of Daycare Rank Child Health Rank Neighborhood Amenities Rank Broadband Connectivity Rank Overall Rank
Alabama 9 50 25 33 44 45 48 46 45 50
Alaska 45 44 47 11 50 40 6 44 11 47
Arizona 27 37 33 37 41 48 35 20 14 43
Arkansas 2 42 25 15 47 17 40 41 48 40
California 49 45 10 25 39 47 32 4 5 36
Colorado 33 20 20 34 30 30 10 1 3 13
Connecticut 43 9 10 45 3 5 15 14 12 4
Delaware 35 38 20 40 36 1 30 39 6 32
Florida 26 32 1 2 29 21 10 27 23 7
Georgia 8 33 10 13 25 20 39 37 32 25
Hawaii 50 47 50 31 17 46 5 5 17 38
Idaho 19 8 33 6 10 42 8 38 14 11
Illinois 20 27 4 47 33 28 35 3 24 27
Indiana 11 18 4 23 27 35 29 32 37 24
Iowa 14 21 33 21 13 23 45 22 33 28
Kansas 6 24 25 20 34 43 2 32 28 22
Kentucky 18 27 10 32 7 37 34 47 42 35
Louisiana 17 41 39 24 46 38 43 42 47 49
Maine 40 19 39 29 1 10 6 30 31 19
Maryland 44 26 16 26 40 18 15 10 7 18
Massachusetts 46 1 3 42 24 4 14 6 9 2
Michigan 10 27 16 44 38 44 47 27 29 41
Minnesota 30 6 33 38 12 27 23 8 13 16
Mississippi 1 48 39 12 14 31 50 50 50 44
Missouri 5 21 20 19 43 25 42 35 36 33
Montana 34 11 47 5 32 14 15 36 33 29
Nebraska 13 15 39 16 21 7 27 24 17 12
Nevada 36 42 33 8 42 49 27 13 16 37
New Hampshire 37 2 25 49 2 3 18 18 4 5
New Jersey 42 3 4 46 5 8 4 11 8 1
New Mexico 4 49 39 7 49 33 44 31 48 48
New York 48 34 1 9 26 6 21 9 21 10
North Carolina 21 31 4 4 28 15 37 40 35 23
North Dakota 25 11 47 22 16 9 19 25 44 26
Ohio 16 11 4 35 18 29 19 17 25 9
Oklahoma 3 40 39 14 37 36 37 48 41 44
Oregon 47 24 25 36 15 22 31 21 9 30
Pennsylvania 32 23 16 48 22 11 26 23 29 30
Rhode Island 41 36 20 41 9 12 3 7 21 16
South Carolina 23 38 10 39 45 39 10 49 43 46
South Dakota 28 11 39 17 31 13 13 16 39 20
Tennessee 7 27 10 27 48 41 48 43 39 42
Texas 15 34 4 30 35 34 40 32 25 34
Utah 24 3 33 3 11 50 22 2 1 2
Vermont 39 3 25 50 4 2 1 26 38 15
Virginia 29 15 16 43 6 19 46 19 20 21
Washington 38 15 20 28 20 26 24 15 1 14
West Virginia 12 45 25 10 26 32 33 45 46 39
Wisconsin 22 7 25 18 18 16 9 29 27 7
Wyoming 31 9 39 1 8 24 24 12 17 6
About Author
Richard Barrington has been a Senior Financial Analyst for MoneyRates. He has appeared on Fox Business News and NPR, and has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and many other publications. Richard has over 30 years of experience in financial services. He has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation from the Association of Investment Management and Research (now the “CFA Institute”).