2019's top state for families might surprise you

Things like median family salary, housing affordability, the unemployment rate, childcare quality and availability, parental leave and the share of uninsured children in each state factored into the rankings.

2019's top state for families might surprise you

No matter what part of the country you live in, the shared experience of parenting means a mama in New Mexico can relate to a mama in New Hampshire.

But in some very important ways, that experience is different depending on which state you live in. Economic factors, housing prices and the education system all pay a role when parents are deciding where they want to raise their kids.

WalletHub recently released its analysis of the best and worst states to raise a family in 2019, and after measuring "49 key indicators of family-friendliness," it named Minnesota as the best state for families right now.

Things like median family salary, housing affordability, the unemployment rate, childcare quality and availability, parental leave and the share of uninsured children in each state factored into the rankings, which put New Mexico in the last spot.

New Mexico's poverty rate, divorce rate, violent crime rate and education system took a toll on its score. That doesn't mean that New Mexico can't be a great place for a family, but it does mean that a lot of families are having a tough time there.

"Within every state, there are many individuals and families who thrive," says Erica Jordan Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Houston.

"However, when you take a closer look (such as by ZIP code), it is clear that some children start off with more advantages than others. Children who have safe and affordable housing, robust and reliable economic opportunities for their parents, low rates of crime, and quality healthcare and education (including high-quality early childhood education) often have advantages."

According to Jordan, a state's ranking may be a consideration for parents, but not the deciding factor.

"For instances, if it is most important to a couple that their children be raised around extended family or if they rely on extended family for childcare, then they will likely be more satisfied if they prioritize living near grandparents or other relatives. However, for many families this is not the only consideration. Personally, I have specific professional goals that influence where I live."

That is the case for many parents, but considering a state's ranking and the factors that go into it might help you narrow things down if you're trying to decide between two opportunities. Check out this map to see how your state ranks.

Source: WalletHub

Here are the 10 best states to raise a family, according to WalletHub:

1. Minnesota

2. Massachusetts

3. North Dakota

4. Vermont

5. New Hampshire

6. New York

7. Wisconsin

8. New Jersey

9. Rhode Island

10. Nebraska

And here are the 10 lowest ranking states:

40. Arizona

41. Georgia

42. Oklahoma

43. South Carolina

44. Arkansas

45. Nevada

46. Alabama

47. West Virginia

48. Louisiana

49. Mississippi

50. New Mexico

What can help states move up

Sharon N. Obasi Ph.D, assistant professor of Family Studies and Assistant Program Director for Early Childhood and Family Advocacy at University of Nebraska Kearney, has some advice for lawmakers in the lower ranking states:

"Any proposals that advocate for quality, affordable child care, and paid family leave are extremely beneficial for family well-being," she explains. "We all want families to thrive and one way to accomplish that is to ensure that family members have time to bond and grow as a unit while being self-sufficient."

Minnesota may be the highest ranking state according to WalletHub's metrics, but its parental leave situation isn't really all that impressive. State law requires employers to provide up to six weeks of unpaid parental leave to a mother or father upon the birth or adoption of a child. When you consider that other states, like Washington and New York are implementing paid leave policies and that California (no. 19 according to WallertHub) is aiming for six whole months of paid leave, the top spot may not belong to Minnesota for long.

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less