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Article Copied From Reader's Digest
April 1998

The Best Places to
Raise a Family
By The Editors

Where's the best place to raise a family?
Working with the Roper Center for Public
Opinion Research, Reader's Digest polled
parents across the country about factors
affecting family life.

They told us their most important
requirements for a family-friendly area -- an
absence of crime, low rates of drug and
alcohol abuse, good public schools,
first-rate health care and a clean
environment. Then came an affordable cost
of living and strong economic growth.

What Do Parents Care About?

Reader's Digest asked parents to
rate 13 features of a good place
to raise a family. Here, on
average, is how parents rated them on
a scale of 1-10:

Low crime rate [9.7]
Low drug/alcohol problem [9.6]
Good public schools [9.5]
Quality health care [9.3]
Clean environment [9.2]
Affordable cost of living [8.9]
Strong economic growth [8.8]
Extracurricular school activities[8.7]
Access to colleges [8.3]
Many activities for youth [7.8]
Less than one hour to major city [7.0]
Many private schools [6.9]
Warm and sunny weather [6.0]

[Mean average of a "1-10" rating by
parents, 10 being "extremely important."]

These factors were weighted, based
on the importance that parents gave
them. Then they were stacked up
against statistical and demographic
portraits of 301 metropolitan areas, large
and small, throughout the country. Using
measurable, uniform indicators -- such as
FBI crime data, per-capita income growth
and EPA air-quality ratings -- we ranked
each area.

The metropolitan areas we compared are
the same standard geographical divisions
used for national statistical surveys. These
metro areas include city and suburban
neighborhoods and sometimes even
neighboring cities and towns. None is
without problems. But places that achieved
high overall scores in our survey are places
that can provide what parents want the
most for their families. The 50 "winners" are
listed on the third page of this feature.

The top cities may surprise you for their mix
of size, location and disparate ambiance.
Winners were scattered across the country
from coast to coast. Most of the top ten
were in the northern tier -- no "sunny
paradise" climates. Smaller is beautiful,
says the survey: six of the top ten places
have populations of less than 250,000. But
two major metropolitan areas, with
million-plus populations, also made the top

After analyzing the survey data, The Digest
sent an editorial team out to the top ten
metro areas to hear from local parents
themselves. We found that if any one thread
runs through the fabric of all these places,
large and small, it is the golden one called
"community" -- the concerned neighbors,
active churches and community groups that
stand behind safe streets, strong schools
and thriving towns.

What did we learn on our search for
the "best"? Family-friendly places
can be anywhere -- if people work at
it. The best places to raise a family are
those where people work with each other,
trust each other, count on each other. In
short, where families can and do shape
their own communities.

The Top Fifty

1. Sheboygan,WI
WWW Sheboygan Newsletter

2. Kenosha, WI
Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
Fort Collins Homepage

4. Bremerton, WA
Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce

5. Pittsburgh, PA

6. Burlington, VT

7. Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville On-Line

8. Spokane, WA
Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce

9. Boston, MA

10. Hickory-Morganton, N.C

11. St. Cloud, MN
St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

12. Provo-Orem, UT
PROFIT Magazine, published by the Provo/ Orem
Chamber of Commerce

13. Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio/W.Va.
Steubenville, Ohio - City of Murals Homepage

14. Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Information Server

15. Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Web site

16. Glens Falls, NY
Glens Falls, NY Home Page

17. Dover, DE
Delaware's Capital

18. Kankakee, IL
Cyber Guide of Kankakee River Valley

19. Bangor, ME
Greater Bangor Region

20. Jackson, MS
Welcome to Metro Jackson

21. Galveston-Texas City, TX
Welcome to Galveston Island

22. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
Welcome to the City of Elkhart, Indiana

23. Monmouth-Ocean, NJ
Monmouth Internet

24. Jacksonville, NC
WJNC in Jacksonville

25. Salinas, CA
Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce

26. Champaign-Urbana, IL
Champaign-Urbana Online

27. Wilmington-Newark, Del./Md
Wilmington Homepage

28. Enid, OK

29. Erie, PA
Erie, Pennsylvania Home Page

30. La Crosse, Wis./Minn.
La Crosse Online Tribune

31. Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah
Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

32. Salem, Oregon To Salem

33. Rochester, NY
Democrat and Chronicle

34. St. Louis, Mo./Ill.
The St. Louis Home Page

35. Rochester, MN
Rochester, MN Corner

36. Bellingham, WA
Welcome to Bellingham

37. Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah,WI
City of Appleton

38. Clarksville-Hopkinsville, Tenn./Ky.
Welcome to Hopkinsville
City of Clarksville

39. Lima, Ohio
Welcome to Lima, Ohio

40. Fargo-Moorhead, N.D./Minn.
Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota --
The Red River Valley Reporter

41. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio
Cleveland Central

42. Portland, OR
Completely Portland

43. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

44. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage Chamber of Commerce

45. Terre Haute, Indiana
Tribune Star Online

46. Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI
Kalamzoo Chamber of Commerce

47. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

48. Lynchburg, VA
Welcome to Lynchburg, Virginia

49. Reading, PA
Reading & Berks County Welcome Center

50. Iowa City, Iowa
A Visitors Guide to Iowa City and Coralville


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