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The top 100 cities to raise kids in the U.S.

San Ramon, California. Newton, Massachusetts. Flower Mound, Texas. Overland Park, Kansas.

The top 100 cities to raise kids in the U.S.

There are a lot of reasons why we choose to make a particular city our home. A cool downtown or convenient airport may factor into the decision. Work opportunities may lead people to towns they would never otherwise consider, and some prioritize proximity to family over other considerations.


Once kids are in the picture, though, it becomes even more complicated.

Parents are seeking out cities that are, above all else, great places to raise kids. That’s why the National Council for Home Safety and Security ranked the top 100 cities to raise a family in, and the list bodes well for California.

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After looking at data for crime, graduation rates, median household income, and access to health insurance from census data and FBI records, the industry group gave the top spot to San Ramon, California, “A wealthy mid-sized city of 76,134 about 15 miles east of San Francisco”.

Five California cities (Newport Beach, Pleasanton, Livermore, Davis and Yorba Linda) are included in the top 10, along with Newton, Massachusetts; Flower Mound, Texas; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Boulder, Colorado (which took the number one spot on a list of the America’s happiest cities compiled earlier this year).

Like most of the cities in the top 100, these locations could be described as suburbs. College and University towns are also heavily represented on the list. The top cities on this list have a lot going for them, but affordable housing isn’t one of them. According to Zillow.com, the average house in San Ramon is worth $971,500.

"Obviously, not every family has the means to choose their ideal location to raise kids, but for those that do, choosing the city or town in which to plant your roots is a big decision," the report’s writers noted on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s website.

"The quality of schooling, median income, safety, and opportunities for outdoor play and exploration in a given location all play a vital role in your kid’s development.”

If you’re looking for all those things, plus a lower cost of living, aiming in the middle of the top 100 might be a better bet than setting your sights on San Ramon.

Overland Park, Kansas is number 61 on this list, but it took the top spot on another ranking of the best places to raise a family compiled earlier this year because that one used different methodology and took affordability into account. (The median home value in Overland Park is $263,200, according to Zillow.)

The discrepancy between lists proves that different families value different things when it comes to finding the perfect place to bring up kids. For some, California may be great, but a high cost of living has the state ranked number one for outbound moves.. Sunshine is great, but it can’t beat the affordability of the fly-over states.

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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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?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

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

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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