Why Atlanta doesn’t rank high among best cities to raise a family

Best metro Atlanta suburbs 2020

Thinking of starting a family? You might want to move to Overland Park, Kansas, which is the most affordable city in the United States for raising children. Or consider Irvine, California, which is No. 1 in the country for health and safety.

“Decades of research have shown us the importance of the environment on the developing child and the functioning (or disfunction) of the family unit. Considerations such as accessibility of health services, schools, transportation, cost of living, and pollution are just a few of the factors that impact daily life that families have to evaluate,” said Jes Fyall Cardenas, assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Level, Literacy and Special Education in the Watson College of Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

To determine 2021′s best cities for families, financial website WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities — including the 150 most populated, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across five key dimensions: family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics.

It then evaluated those categories using 48 relevant metrics, each of which was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for family life.

When the numbers were tallied, Overland Park came out on top, with a score of 72.48. It was followed by Fremont, California (71.37), Irvine, California (69.19), Plano, Texas (68.80), and Columbia, Maryland (67.75).

Atlanta finished No. 85, with a score of 52.65. Although the city ranked in the top 20 for family fun, it fell far down the list for health and safety and for socio-economics. Here’s how Atlanta finished in each dimension:

  • Family fun: 19
  • Health and safety: 148
  • Education and child care: 106
  • Affordability: 35
  • Socio-economics: 160

If cities want to be more attractive for young families, officials should make “sure there are clean and safe public gathering places like playgrounds and public libraries, said Alison Hooper, assistant professor of early childhood education, curriculum and instruction at the University of Alabama. “Investing in local schools and early care and education programs goes a long way in attracting families with young children.”

Two other Georgia cities are on WalletHub’s list but are ranked much farther down. Columbus ranked No. 152, with a score of 44.70, and Augusta finished at No. 168, with a score of just 42.22.