Author Topic: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?  (Read 1706 times)

LaDeeDa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« on: November 01, 2018, 02:33:20 AM »
I'm looking at moving my family back to the US from the UK and trying to decide where to raise my elementary age kids.

I'm looking for ideas on what makes a "good place to raise a family" but on more Mustachian terms.

So I'm not as much looking for the the specific town to live in, but what qualities do you look for? How do you define a good school? How do you balance connected community with freedom to run and play?

For a bit of background: I grew up in an area that the 2% moved to to raise kids: good schools, low crime, everything a classic "family town" should have. But wouldn't make the same choice for my family. As a teen I saw lots of drugs,  isolation in McMansions, kids dying in car crashes, and I was bored out of my mind in the top rated school. And, no public transport!

I now live in a row home and love having a tight knit neighborhood, but the petty crime, druggies on the corner, and lack of enrichment at school (like art class) are getting me down. 

Hula Hoop

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 766
  • Location: Italy
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2018, 08:15:39 AM »
I don't think you can have everything.  IMO, having grown up in a once gritty new gentrified area of a large city in the US, I think a bit of grittiness is good for kids.  Seeing pathetic junkies in my neighborhood and in our families made the kids at my school much less likely to experiment with drugs the way the rich kids in the suburbs did.  Also, no one had any money to pay for such things.

Our kids school doesn't have enrichment classes at school so we shell out and have then do things like music and sports after school. 

LaDeeDa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2018, 11:03:38 AM »


I don't think you can have everything. 

...

Our kids school doesn't have enrichment classes at school so we shell out and have then do things like music and sports after school.

So would you call your town a good place to raise a family? Why or why not?

What did you decide to prioritise when you couldn't  have everything?


ixtap

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1278
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2018, 11:07:07 AM »
The parents are content with their lifestyle and the kids are safe.

Everything else can be managed.

Blueberries

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 86
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2018, 01:15:37 PM »
On the school front, I don't recommend basing your school choice on online ratings and reviews alone.  The reality of the school is far more nuanced than the ratings.  Visit the three schools in your district (elem, middle, high); talk to parents and figure out the problems.  If you can live with the problems, you will likely be happy with your choice. 

Edited to add:  If you are free to move to any location, you will find something.  If you need to find work in your field, you may struggle to find everything you want.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2018, 01:18:13 PM by Blueberries »

Milizard

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 616
  • Location: West Michigan
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2018, 03:11:38 PM »
I think where I live is a good place to raise a family.  The school district is the same one I attended for the last half of my schooling.  It's more diversified now, but still good.  (I think the diversification is great, but there were some painful adjustments in the first few years with students coming from schools that weren't as good.)  Very safe, sidewalks and little parks everywhere, one playground being located 1/2 block from my house.  Nice programs at the library for kids, if you're lucky enough to be free during those events.  There could be more stuff to do, and more jobs in the area, but even distant commutes are quicker and easier than ones I read about in other cities.  When I did have a local job, it was 6 miles away through residential areas, and I was so spoiled that I got pissed if it took me more than 12 minutes.  I complain about stuff to do, but there's gorgeous beaches within 10 minutes drive, or easy bike distance, if you prefer.  Good fishing and hunting, if you're into that sort of thing.  There's a lot of events and sports options for the kids.  I have to keep it down to a reasonable level, and I'm not sure I'm succeeding at that.  I signed them up for elementary school basketball, plus swimming lessons.  They're in cub scouts. Would love to do music lessons, theatre, indoor soccer, free ice-skating lessons, luge, and karate, but not enough to have them scheduled more than they already are.

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 632
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2018, 03:14:11 PM »
I think where I live is a good place to raise a family.  The school district is the same one I attended for the last half of my schooling.  It's more diversified now, but still good.  (I think the diversification is great, but there were some painful adjustments in the first few years with students coming from schools that weren't as good.)  Very safe, sidewalks and little parks everywhere, one playground being located 1/2 block from my house.  Nice programs at the library for kids, if you're lucky enough to be free during those events.  There could be more stuff to do, and more jobs in the area, but even distant commutes are quicker and easier than ones I read about in other cities.  When I did have a local job, it was 6 miles away through residential areas, and I was so spoiled that I got pissed if it took me more than 12 minutes.  I complain about stuff to do, but there's gorgeous beaches within 10 minutes drive, or easy bike distance, if you prefer.  Good fishing and hunting, if you're into that sort of thing.  There's a lot of events and sports options for the kids.  I have to keep it down to a reasonable level, and I'm not sure I'm succeeding at that.  I signed them up for elementary school basketball, plus swimming lessons.  They're in cub scouts. Would love to do music lessons, theatre, indoor soccer, free ice-skating lessons, luge, and karate, but not enough to have them scheduled more than they already are.

Don't forget the ten feet of snow per year!!

Milizard

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 616
  • Location: West Michigan
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2018, 04:38:10 PM »
I think where I live is a good place to raise a family.  The school district is the same one I attended for the last half of my schooling.  It's more diversified now, but still good.  (I think the diversification is great, but there were some painful adjustments in the first few years with students coming from schools that weren't as good.)  Very safe, sidewalks and little parks everywhere, one playground being located 1/2 block from my house.  Nice programs at the library for kids, if you're lucky enough to be free during those events.  There could be more stuff to do, and more jobs in the area, but even distant commutes are quicker and easier than ones I read about in other cities.  When I did have a local job, it was 6 miles away through residential areas, and I was so spoiled that I got pissed if it took me more than 12 minutes.  I complain about stuff to do, but there's gorgeous beaches within 10 minutes drive, or easy bike distance, if you prefer.  Good fishing and hunting, if you're into that sort of thing.  There's a lot of events and sports options for the kids.  I have to keep it down to a reasonable level, and I'm not sure I'm succeeding at that.  I signed them up for elementary school basketball, plus swimming lessons.  They're in cub scouts. Would love to do music lessons, theatre, indoor soccer, free ice-skating lessons, luge, and karate, but not enough to have them scheduled more than they already are.

Don't forget the ten feet of snow per year!!

Well, the kids have fun playing in it.  But it snows, and then melts, then snows and snows and snows some more and you think you're going to have a white Christmas...and then it all fucking melts away...  So anyway, because of that I had no idea how much snowfall we usually get over a season.  Turns out, just shy of 8 feet, so you're close!

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1533
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2018, 05:39:52 PM »
I think parents being happy and community being accepting are the key factors. 

Hula Hoop

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 766
  • Location: Italy
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2018, 06:10:01 AM »


I don't think you can have everything. 

...

Our kids school doesn't have enrichment classes at school so we shell out and have then do things like music and sports after school.

So would you call your town a good place to raise a family? Why or why not?

What did you decide to prioritise when you couldn't  have everything?
 


It's good and bad.  We didn't really choose to raise kids here.  We just happenned to be living here when the kids were born and it all just happenned.  I'm in a foreign country so there are also huge cultural and educational differences from how I was raised. 

I guess I just think that asking where is a good place to raise a family is a strange question as it depends on so many factors.  For example, one thing that we don't have which I think would be wonderful for raising kids is extended family nearby.  A lot of people I know have local family and it makes a huge difference in quality of life.  However, you don't get to choose where your extended family lives - you just need to move near them if this is important to you. But this area may not have other things which you value such as walkability, good schools, a local library etc.

kimmarg

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
  • Location: Northern New England
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2018, 06:29:08 AM »
I would consider the prevalence and impact of religion in the community. As an atheist that means I don't want to be somewhere where all the social things revolve around Church. On the other hand if you're deeply religious that may be just what you're looking for.

sjc0816

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 232
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2018, 08:38:43 AM »

Can my wife go for a jog after dark without fear?


I'm not sure there are any locations in this country where I would jog after dark alone! I live in middle america....very safe....and I got a big scary dog to jog with me at night/early morning. Maybe that's being too fearful but there have been women attacked on our trails at night.

OP, to answer. We also just sort of landed where we are (suburb of a mid sized midwest city)....and it's a great place to raise a family. What makes it great? Diversity, extremely friendly people/community, excellent schools with tons of different opportunities (sports, arts, advanced classes, etc). That being said, when I was growing up we moved every couple of years to places that most wouldn't consider "good to raise a family" and my parents had great things to say about each place. There are positives and negatives to every location and with the exception of SAFETY in schools....there aren't many places I don't think my kids would thrive.

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 632
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2018, 05:14:11 PM »
I think where I live is a good place to raise a family.  The school district is the same one I attended for the last half of my schooling.  It's more diversified now, but still good.  (I think the diversification is great, but there were some painful adjustments in the first few years with students coming from schools that weren't as good.)  Very safe, sidewalks and little parks everywhere, one playground being located 1/2 block from my house.  Nice programs at the library for kids, if you're lucky enough to be free during those events.  There could be more stuff to do, and more jobs in the area, but even distant commutes are quicker and easier than ones I read about in other cities.  When I did have a local job, it was 6 miles away through residential areas, and I was so spoiled that I got pissed if it took me more than 12 minutes.  I complain about stuff to do, but there's gorgeous beaches within 10 minutes drive, or easy bike distance, if you prefer.  Good fishing and hunting, if you're into that sort of thing.  There's a lot of events and sports options for the kids.  I have to keep it down to a reasonable level, and I'm not sure I'm succeeding at that.  I signed them up for elementary school basketball, plus swimming lessons.  They're in cub scouts. Would love to do music lessons, theatre, indoor soccer, free ice-skating lessons, luge, and karate, but not enough to have them scheduled more than they already are.

Don't forget the ten feet of snow per year!!

Well, the kids have fun playing in it.  But it snows, and then melts, then snows and snows and snows some more and you think you're going to have a white Christmas...and then it all fucking melts away...  So anyway, because of that I had no idea how much snowfall we usually get over a season.  Turns out, just shy of 8 feet, so you're close!

Ten years ago, we moved to TN from WI so I know what you're talking about.  Glad not to be there in the winter anymore. 

Irregular Joe

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2018, 09:37:44 AM »
For us it's:
  • Great public schools nearby
  • Short commute, so we can spend more time with our kids
  • Close to parks / nature
  • Not on a busy street, so they can play outside safely

Proximity to work/school is so important.  Commute time is dead time. 

If the kids don’t go to school nearby, their friends won’t be that close either.  They’ll need to spend more time commuting, and it’s tougher to coordinate after school programs.

When I was a kid, I was offered spot at a prestigious (public) magnet school instead of my local public school. The bus ride would've increased from 10 minutes to 60+ minutes though. I declined.  Never regretted it, and ended up going to an ivy league and top graduate school anyway. 

We lived in San Francisco before, which had a well-intentioned but extremely misguided lottery system. You weren’t guaranteed a school closest to you. Instead, your child was put into a lottery , and you couldn’t end up with a school that was 1 hour away during rush hour.  They did this to increase the diversity so all the rich kids wouldn’t be in the same spot, but in practice what it did was that rich parents took their kids out of the public school system and sent them to private schools nearby instead (the opposite of what they intended).

We’re in Manhattan now. We do not want to send our kids to private school.  The prices are staggering and I am sure it is unnecessary. But the good public schools with enough space for our family would make my commute unbearably long. So we are asking ourselves the same question - where should we move?

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2018, 04:40:46 AM »

Can my wife go for a jog after dark without fear?


I'm not sure there are any locations in this country where I would jog after dark alone! I live in middle america....very safe....and I got a big scary dog to jog with me at night/early morning. Maybe that's being too fearful but there have been women attacked on our trails at night.

OP, to answer. We also just sort of landed where we are (suburb of a mid sized midwest city)....and it's a great place to raise a family. What makes it great? Diversity, extremely friendly people/community, excellent schools with tons of different opportunities (sports, arts, advanced classes, etc). That being said, when I was growing up we moved every couple of years to places that most wouldn't consider "good to raise a family" and my parents had great things to say about each place. There are positives and negatives to every location and with the exception of SAFETY in schools....there aren't many places I don't think my kids would thrive.

Yeah, I live in the most boring place ever, and this summer some guy (they did catch him)was attacking women who were running in the daytime.

I wanted my kids to see diversity, and that very much includes economic and educational diversity. I think they are better people for it.I was never going to live in the upper middle class suburban development.

For me, the one thing I would have changed would be to be closer to family. That support system matters and is hard to replace.

formerlydivorcedmom

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 583
  • Location: Texas
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2018, 11:25:53 AM »
My general list of what I look for in a school district:

a) Safe
b) Diversity - social/economic/religious/racial - my kids need to know not everyone is like them. 
c) Adequate funding for libraries/art/music - I moved out of a district whose first response to a budget problem was to suggest we fire all the librarians
d) Robust programs for advanced academics and GT( (I have a kid who needs this, and a two-hour a week pull-out program doesn't work)
e) Variety of extracurriculars - so my kids can experiment and see what interests them
f) vocational and/or dual credit programs in high school

Basically, I wanted a school system that gave my kids a lot of options and flexibility and didn't cosset them in a bubble.  Our school district is not the highest rated in the area, and our particular schools are the lowest rated in this district.  This is because half of the kids are low-income or speak English as a second language.  My kids are getting a terrific education, and I'm happy with it. 

aimz28

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2018, 05:20:34 PM »
Proximity to family is a huge for us. I love where we live for other reasons, but for this reason alone I would not consider moving unless it was necessary/temporary. My in-laws help us out with the kids when our babysitter is sick, and we usually share a meal together at least weekly. My kids love playing with their cousins, and I think they learn a lot from each other too.

We live in a suburb of Phoenix. The summers are hot, but that just means our outdoor activities include water during those months. The rest of the year is beautiful. I don't think I could live somewhere without plenty of sunshine. I love that there are national forests and a different climate just an hour north of us so we can escape the heat in the summer or find snow in the winter.

There are plenty of parks and schools nearby. We may not choose to send our kids to the neighborhood elementary school because there is a good public charter school a few miles away with a bus route that goes by our house.

My husband and I both work about 3 miles from home. We seriously lucked out there, when we bought our house we both had a 20 min commute until we found better jobs that happened to be closer to home.

We have a great church community, but with a global church I think we could find that most places.

I feel like we hit the jackpot, but I do think every place has it's own beauty. We like to travel and see how other people live but we're always glad to come home.

tyrannostache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 142
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2018, 02:40:46 PM »
This is a really tough thing to quantify. We moved to a smallish northern mountain town from a big California city in part because we didn't want to raise our kids in that city. While I really miss the diversity of the CA city, this town makes up for it in other ways.

1) Clean air and water.

2) Access to wilderness and outdoor recreation. This is huge for us. We love hiking, backpacking, and biking and love sharing these activities with kids. Almost everyone else I know is into these things, too, so we spend lots of time with friends that way.

3) Manageable size. Home, work, and school are all within a 2-3 mile radius.

4) Good arts institutions. For such a small town, we have some great institutions. Decent science museum, theater, and music. It's all fairly small and bush-league stuff, but the lower quality is balanced out by being really accessible. Of course we miss being able to go to the Cal Academy of Sciences or any of those incredible places, but I don't miss spending an hour in the car every day.

5) Not super religious. Religion is definitely a big deal here, but we still have plenty of friends who want to come over for playdates on Sunday AM.

6) Economic diversity.

7) Safety. I feel totally comfortable taking my dog out on local trails after dark.

8) Community. Neighborhood kids go out and play together. We have made good friends with several neighbors. Also, you can trick-or-treat at the Governor's mansion, and he gives out full-size candy bars. So there's that.

js52000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2018, 11:14:45 PM »
I agree with those above that said this is very hard to quantify.  I sometimes think of it as "if my child grew up to become someone like my neighbours/the other parents at school/etc would I be happy?" if the answer is no, then it is not a good place to raise a family.  Nowhere is perfect, but if imagining your kid growing up to be like the adults in place x makes you sad then place x isn't for you.

ChpBstrd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1143
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2018, 05:37:36 PM »
I've been to lots of places that seem idyllic to raise a family. Unfortunately, they are all priced through the roof (Visit Victoria, British Columbia some time!). A place where FIRE is impossible is not a "good place" at all.

Perhaps the closest thing to what you're looking for would be Oak Park, IL. Good safety, schools, a friendly yet sophisticated urban feel, and multiple stations on the Chicago "L". Affordability sucks relative to many places, but it's perhaps one of the least bad options.

FLBiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 921
  • Age: 42
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2018, 03:00:09 PM »
I agree with those above that said this is very hard to quantify.  I sometimes think of it as "if my child grew up to become someone like my neighbours/the other parents at school/etc would I be happy?" if the answer is no, then it is not a good place to raise a family.  Nowhere is perfect, but if imagining your kid growing up to be like the adults in place x makes you sad then place x isn't for you.

I never thought in these terms, but I think I agree.  I currently live in Tampa, FL.  My daughter is 3.  We're moving to Canada.

Teachstache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 165
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2018, 07:10:56 PM »
I agree with those above that said this is very hard to quantify.  I sometimes think of it as "if my child grew up to become someone like my neighbours/the other parents at school/etc would I be happy?" if the answer is no, then it is not a good place to raise a family.  Nowhere is perfect, but if imagining your kid growing up to be like the adults in place x makes you sad then place x isn't for you.

This is a really good way to think of where you live. If my child grew up in my neighborhood & became like the other parents at his school, I'd be very happy. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms before.

jpdx

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 234
Re: What Makes a Good Place to Raise a Family?
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2018, 01:16:39 AM »
My family recently did a place search and here were some of our criteria:

+Walkable/bikeable neighborhoods
+Interesting architecture and character of houses and buildings
+Access to outdoor recreation (mountains, rivers, etc)
+Good food and thriving small businesses
+High quality public amenities like parks, libraries, public spaces, museums, etc.
+High quality public transportation and infrastructure
+International airport

We also sought out places that have people who are educated, friendly, creative, entrepreneurial, outdoorsy, and secular.

How do we define a good school? high scores, high community involvement, minimal homework, good extracurriculars, healthy food in the cafeteria, all in a building that looks inviting and doesn't resemble a prison.

There are a number of places that meet these criteria but we settled on Portland, Oregon and absolutely love it. Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2018, 01:23:23 AM by jpdx »