When it comes to raising a family, Georgia checks plenty of big boxes, including rising home values, job opportunities and income growth.
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Analysts at personal finance website WalletHub recently crunched the numbers to determine which of the Peach State's 104 cities are most conducive to family life.
They compared the cities across four key dimensions: family life and fun; education; health and safety; affordability and socioeconomics. Those dimensions were further evaluated using 21 relevant metrics, ranging from playgrounds per capita, quality of school system, housing affordability and unemployment rate. Only the “city proper” was considered.
Of the 104 Georgia cities on the list, three in North Fulton made the top 10.
Milton earned top honors, ranking third in education, health and safety; fourth in socioeconomics; eighth in family life and fun and 14th in affordability.
The city also boasts the lowest violent-crime rate per capita and encompasses one of the lowest percentages of families below poverty level.
Peachtree City, Alpharetta, Woodstock and Johns Creek rounded out the top five.
At the very bottom of the pack sits College Park, which came in at No. 56 for family life and fun; 103rd in education, health and safety and dead last in both affordability and socioeconomics.
» RELATED: Three N. Fulton cities named 'Best Places to Raise a Family in Georgia'
Top five cities per category:
- Family life and fun: Cusseta, Decatur, Dalton, Grovetown and Marietta
- Education, health and safety: Grovetown, Wilmington Island, Milton, Kingsland and St. Simons
- Affordability: Evans, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Martinez and Johns Creek
- Socioeconomics: Peachtree City, Johns Creek, Evans, Milton and Wilmington Island
Bottom five cities per category:
- Family life and fun: Candler-McAfee, Wilmington Island, Belvedere Park, Panthersville and Fayetteville
- Education, health and safety: East Point, College Park, Union City, Panthersville and Forest Park
- Affordability: College Park, Cordele, Tifton, Griffin and Chamblee
- Socioeconomics: College Park, Riverdale, Conyers, Brunswick and Covington
Cities with the highest violent crime rate include College Park, Union City, East Point, Albany and Americus.
Here are the 10 best places for families in Georgia, according to WalletHub:
- Peachtree City
- Johns Creek
- Holly Springs
- Druid Hills
And the 10 worst:
- College Park
- Forest Park
- East Point
Like many others, the Peach State has its share of social and economic inequalities that can affect quality of life and child development.
But, Sherill Hayes, professor of conflict management at Kennesaw State University told WalletHub, “there are also opportunities through programs like Georgia’s Pre-K ‘Bright from the Start’, ‘School Choice’, and Magnet programs that allow parents to access high quality public education and opportunities for their children.”
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Beyond safety, families with young children also often look for a sense of connection between residents in the neighborhood, University of Georgia research scientist Catherine Walker O’Neal added. Local officials, she said, should encourage and promote well-planned, regular community events.
When searching for affordable housing and areas with quality public schools, experts recommend saving money after their first job, consider magnet school or charter school systems in affordable areas.
“It can be difficult to find the right match of affordability of housing and perfect school zone, but it can be done,” University of North Georgia education processor Carlise Womack Wynn said. “Be flexible and look for homes that need a little TLC in your desired school zone. Purchase with a long term plan in mind and begin slowly renovating until your home dazzles! This could be an excellent investment in your own portfolio as well as your child’s education.”
Explore the full study at wallethub.com.