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.

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, 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.