The 30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child – 2017

May 15, 2018 |

Brother and sister run hand in hand outside

Finding a safe place to raise your family is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent. From the quality of the school system to the accessibility of great parks and children’s recreational activities, selecting a community where you’ll want to settle down and raise a child is serious business.

Here at SafeWise, we’ve delved into the data to define which cities in the United States excel at creating safer environments for families. You might notice that there’s overlap between this list and our 100 Safest Cities in America. That’s because these communities do exceptional jobs of protecting not only adults but also their smallest, most vulnerable residents.

As you’ll see from our recommendations, the safest cities for raising families tend to skew towards coastal New England towns, where quiet, suburban neighborhoods have less crime, promote healthy and active lifestyles, and enjoy well-funded school systems. Connecticut takes the lead with nearly a third of the cities on the list hailing from the state, while New Jersey’s family-friendly townships make up a large portion of the remaining communities.

Here are a few state statistics that helped inform our rankings of which cities are the safest for raising a family. To learn more about where we got our data, see the methodology section below.

  • Connecticut has exceptionally low rates of violent crime.
  • Vermont has the fewest registered sex offenders per capita of any state.
  • New Jersey has the second-highest high school graduation rate.
  • Massachusetts schools are rated the best for overall quality.

While parents always strive to closely supervise their kids, it helps to have a community that’s willing to focus on family-friendly initiatives that make the difference. These are the cities across America that make one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs you’ll ever undertake a little less stressful.

1. Greenwich, Connecticut

Founded by a descendant of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Greenwich captures plenty of historic charm without sacrificing safety. Consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in America, this community has private beaches, plenty of parks and recreation programs, and an island sanctuary to help residents escape from the bustle of ordinary life. Many Greenwich couples have kids, so you’ll be in good company when you settle in one of these quiet Connecticut culs-de-sac.

2. Essex, Vermont

This mountain town is one of the most populous in Vermont but retains a small-town commitment to community involvement. Essex’s award-winning schools focus not only on graduation and college attendance, but also on apprenticeship opportunities for students who want to move into business or industry-sector jobs that require technical skills. Come for the scenic, rural charm but stay for the unparalleled, real-world education opportunities.

3. Fairfield, Connecticut

This city on the Long Island Sound frequently wins accolades as one of the best places to live in the Northeast. Fairfield not only subsidizes neighborhood programs that focus on creating a stronger sense of community but also heavily invests in the public school system. The most expensive construction project in the city’s history concludes this summer and provides residents with three new schools equipped with the latest technology and innovative spaces for learning 1.

4. Carmel, Indiana

Carmel is one of the fastest-growing cities in Indiana,2 and it’s easy to see why. Families are attracted to the award-winning parks and recreation department that offers a robust menu of summer camps, extended school enrichment, and even a water park. It’s also home to the World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery, a claim to fame that has plenty of adorable appeal.

5. Merrimack, New Hampshire

Tucked into the outside curve of the Merrimack River, this city is often touted as a best place to live due to its accessibility for commuters and rural, small-town sensibilities. Merrimack has several award-winning high school sports programs and was also the first in the state to establish charter schools focused on STEM and arts education.3

6. Fishers, Indiana

Recently named a Playful City for the ninth year in a row, Fishers’ focus on kids’ recreational opportunities is unparalleled. The city produces a seasonal guide to its incredible parks and recreation program that features a community garden, a subsidized preschool, and tons of summer camp opportunities. Indiana’s teacher of the year also hails from Fishers, which is situated in one of the best school districts in the state.

7. Monroe Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey

Along the outer reaches of suburban New York, this New Jersey township has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the Northeast. Residents are attracted by the fantastic educational opportunities in Monroe Township, which was voted best high school in America, Silver in 2014 by US News.4

8. Irvine, California

A planned city in sunny California, Irvine is biking friendly with a focus on sports for kids, nature centers, adventure playgrounds, and more. This community also has a specific department that handles family services and provides counseling, and Irvine also offers fantastic higher education opportunities at nearby universities like Pepperdine.

9. Middletown Township, New Jersey

This Jersey township is nestled along the Sandy Hook Bay and has a plethora of beaches that provide prime fishing opportunities, despite the city’s proximity to New York City. Middletown Township’s calendar is packed with family activities like community fossil hunts, movies in the park, and mother-daughter afternoon teas.

10. Cary, North Carolina

Located near the Research Triangle Park, Cary’s award-winning sports and recreation department has a robust approach to youth sports. Dotted with creeks and tree-lined streets, this community outside of Raleigh is one of the most highly educated in America, as 68% of residents have a college degree. 5

11. Wayne Township, New Jersey

Despite being dotted with lakes and tidy suburban neighborhoods, Wayne Township is just twenty miles from the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan. The city has nearly 2,000 acres of parkland, which includes swimming facilities, community gardens, and dozens of playgrounds. Wayne Township is also home to a world-famous ice rink where championship skaters and coaches run youth skating programs.

12. Franklin, Massachusetts

Massachusetts is rated the highest in the nation for overall school quality, and Franklin is no exception, winning the 7th Annual AP Honor Roll Award for superior high schools.6 This quaint New England town is also home to America’s first library, whose books were donated by Benjamin Franklin himself.

13. Toms River Township, New Jersey

New Jersey’s stellar graduation rates are just the beginning of what Toms River Township has to offer students. A youth services department specifically focuses on after-school and summer camps tailored to provide services to kids in need. And when October rolls around, you’ll be in for a ghoulish good time as the township prepares to host the second-largest Halloween parade in the world.7

14. Warwick, Rhode Island

It may be the second-largest city in Rhode Island, but Warwick still retains plenty of small-town charm as a cheerful New England seaport. Enjoy miles of beachfront parks, an ice arena, and even a picturesque rocky point outfitted with a scenic lighthouse.

15. Ridgefield, Connecticut

A 300-year-old town at the foot of the Berkshire mountains, Ridgefield lives up to its name with stately colonials and green lawns that lead to the sea. The Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, formerly known as the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, is famous for having performed at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.8 The school system is noted for a fantastic band and an arts program that would be music to any parent’s ears.

16. Gilbert, Arizona

Southeast of Phoenix lies Gilbert, one of the most populous incorporated town in Arizona.9 Named a 2017 Playful City USA for its commitment to families, this formerly agricultural town has turned into a bustling suburbia focused on providing programs for every member of its community.

17. Bridgewater Township, New Jersey

Travel inland to the friendly, tree-lined neighborhoods of Bridgewater Township, and you’ll find more than great parks and youth recreation opportunities. Local high schools boast stellar graduation rates and have been the recipients of Blue Ribbon Awards from the US Department of Education for exceptional performance.

18. Southington, Connecticut

Just southwest of Hartford along the gently rolling hills of the Quinnipiac River lies Southington. This Connecticut town’s high school has a fantastic reputation, with a 93% graduation rate.10 Southington is also home to the Apple Harvest Festival, a family-friendly seasonal event that draws tens of thousands of visitors.

19. Orem, Utah

Family City USA is this Utah city’s nickname, and it lives up to it with a smorgasbord of family-focused opportunities and programs. Just south of Salt Lake City, Orem is a university town with tons of trails, a robust parks system, and a bevy of neighborhood leaders that excel at creating a strong, welcoming community.

20. Westport, Connecticut

Snuggled against the Long Island Sound, Westport has some of the best middle schools in the nation, snagging multiple Blue Ribbon Awards from the Department of Education. Known for its brick facades, this picturesque coastal town claims it is “New England in tradition; cosmopolitan in outlook.”

21. Cumberland, Rhode Island

Just around the corner from Providence, Cumberland boasts a historic park and an award-winning Little League team whose coach, Dave Belisle, has become something of a legend. Despite easy access to New Haven and Boston, Cumberland still retains its rural sensibilities.

22. Hillsborough Township, New Jersey

Tucked on the edge of a mountain preserve, Hillsborough Township focuses on putting families first with great sports programs and excellent schools. This New Jersey town was named a Playful City USA for its efforts to keep kids engaged and active.

23. Milton, Vermont

Milton is a sleepy little Vermont town along the edge of Lake Champlain with an attractive lineup of summer camp programs and an award-winning youth theater program.12 The town proper may look familiar as the setting for the movie Me, Myself, and Irene, some of which was filmed on location in Milton.

24. Simsbury, Connecticut

Simsbury has one of the best youth music programs in the nation and has been recognized for exceptional arts advocacy.13 Simsbury High School was ranked a top Connecticut school by US News and World Report,11 and the entire community enjoys not only low rates of crime, but also a healthy, active community centered on being bike and pedestrian friendly.

25. Cheshire, Connecticut

Between Hartford and New Haven lies the city of Cheshire, which was named a best place to live by Connecticut Magazine.14 This inland city with quiet neighborhoods devotes a good amount of resources to its Youth Services Department, which coordinates activities, counseling, and family services.

26. Milford, Connecticut

Home of the famous Oyster Festival, Milford is a coastal town clustered along the banks of its own inlet from the sea. Home to several beaches, an historic downtown, and a large protected marsh that is a wildlife sanctuary, Milford manages to keep it quaint despite being sandwiched between the busy metro areas of New Haven and Bridgeport.

27. Glastonbury, Connecticut

Just northeast of New Haven, Glastonbury is an award-winning, bicycle-friendly community that NerdWallet lists as a best place for first-time homebuyers.15 The Youth and Family Services program puts on annual drama productions that have become quite the draw locally, and families can take their pick of dozens of well-maintained parks around town.

28. Narragansett, Rhode Island

Another beach town, Narragansett’s population doubles during the summer due to its famous beaches, which are a huge draw for tourists. Despite the crowds, this city still enjoys relatively low crime and an exceptional school system.

29. Lakeville, Minnesota

A suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Lakeville lives up to its name with plenty of small ponds and a recreationally focused community. While it’s the only Minnesota city on our list, Lakeville earns its top spot with award-winning schools and plenty of small-town charm.

30. Newton, Massachusetts

Nicknamed the Garden City, this suburb of Boston boasts quiet, safe neighborhoods, referred to as villages, that are accessible by rail from Beantown. Massachusetts enjoys some of the best schools in the nation, but Newton sweetens the deal with plenty of youth programs, including a popular Learn to Fish class available to both kids and adults.

How We Established the Safest Cities to Raise a Child

To bring you the best family-friendly communities across the United States, the SafeWise team reviewed reported sex offender concentration, state graduation rates, overall school quality ranking, and FBI violent crime data. We also considered parks and recreational opportunities as well as special programs focused on providing services for kids and families. While lots of communities strive to provide a safe environment for their residents, the cities on our list performed the best considering these factors specifically important to raising a family.

It’s important to note that we eliminated all cities with fewer than 10,000 residents and those communities that did not report complete crime numbers to the FBI.

Honorable Mentions

31. Old Bridge Township, New Jersey 32. South Kingstown, Rhode Island 33. Woodbury, Minnesota
34. Farmington, Connecticut 35. Jackson Township, New Jersey 36. Darien, Connecticut
37. Needham, Massachusetts 38. West Hartford, Connecticut 39. Eden Prairie, Minnesota
40. New Canaan, Connecticut 41. Newtown, Connecticut 42. Naperville, Illinois
43. Manchester Township, New Jersey 44. Johns Creek, Georgia 45. State College, Pennsylvania
46. Smithfield, Rhode Island 47. Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, New Jersey 48. Maple Grove, Minnesota
49. Bristol, Rhode Island 50. Madison, Connecticut

Curious if your town made 2017’s “100 Safest Cities in America” based on different criteria?

See the report.

 


1. Journal-News, Fairfield Schools: New School Construction on Time, Budget
2. City of Carmel, Indiana, Statistics and Demographics
3. NPR, New Hampshire May Soon Have A Science and Technology Charter School
4. Monroe Township School District, Monroe Township School District, Middlesex County, NJ
5. Time, America’s Most Educated Cities
6. Franklin Massachusetts Public School District, Franklin Massachusetts Public School District
7. Toms River Halloween Parade, Toms River Halloween Parade
8. The Ridgefield Press, Orchestra: Beloved Symphony and More
9. AZ Central, Gilbert Population Passes Glendale for No. 4 in the Valley
10. startclass by GRAPHIQ, Southington High School Graduation Rates
11. US News & World Report, Simsbury High School
12. Milton Theatre Company, Milton Theatre Company Awards
13. The Simsbury Patch, Simsbury Music Education Program Receives National Recognition
14. Connecticut Magazine, $250,000- $325,000
15. Nerd Wallet, Best Places for Home Ownership in Connecticut

Written by Kaz Weida

When she's not chasing two little ones around the house, Kaz spends her time reviewing products to keep your family safe. Learn more

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