2015’s Best And Worst Cities for California Families – # 1 Folsom, CA

Study by:WalletHub 

 

Best and Worst Cities for Families in California
The famous Gold Rush that drew in legions of economic hopefuls to California in the mid-19th century ended not too long after it started. Nonetheless, a stream of new arrivals flowed incessantly into the aptly nicknamed Golden State, solidifying its spot on the record books as the most populated U.S. state.

So why do people from all over the U.S. and abroad flock to California? Well, it’s rich in square footage, for one, so there’s plenty of breathing room for newcomers. And while few are bound to strike gold in the literal sense, big dreams are known to come true in prominent areas of California like Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Besides its appeal to actors and entrepreneurs, however, the state also boasts the biggest economy in the U.S. and the seventh largest globally, abundant natural and cultural diversity, year-round balmy weather in its lower half and some of the best universities in the world. Add to that the state’s leadership in implementing a comprehensive paid family leave program in 2004. All of these qualities combined make California a great place for families with roots on its soil or those seeking to adopt the state as their permanent home.

But because it’s not all moonlight and roses everywhere in California — or in terms of particular factors such as public K-12 education and housing affordability — WalletHub analysts searched for the Golden State cities that are most conducive to family life. We compared 240 cities in total across 22 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the number of attractions to the number of pediatricians per capita to unemployment rate. You can find the results, additional expert commentary and a detailed methodology below.

Main Findings

Overall Rank

City

Total Score

‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank

‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank

‘Affordability’ Rank

‘Socioeconomic Environment’ Rank

1 Folsom, CA 77.91 11 24 1 21
2 Eastvale, CA 77.76 17 1 3 27
3 San Ramon, CA 76.31 55 3 4 4
4 Dublin, CA 75.22 10 10 7 13
5 Pleasanton, CA 73.66 23 9 11 9
6 El Dorado Hills, CA 72.82 197 76 2 3
7 Danville, CA 72.26 187 5 10 5
8 Aliso Viejo, CA 71.96 60 25 5 29
9 Palo Alto, CA 70.89 2 2 102 17
10 Roseville, CA 70.59 7 57 8 64
11 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 69.81 171 23 9 15
12 Cupertino, CA 69.35 39 6 95 1
13 Manhattan Beach, CA 68.17 172 33 17 8
14 Livermore, CA 67.24 54 38 22 36
15 Poway, CA 67.20 162 15 25 22
16 Moorpark, CA 67.08 153 26 34 14
17 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 66.97 219 4 60 7
18 Davis, CA 66.74 25 40 23 87
19 Encinitas, CA 66.62 32 22 65 35
20 Oakley, CA 66.47 188 8 13 110
21 Brentwood, CA 66.16 205 53 6 33
22 Yorba Linda, CA 66.12 223 32 24 6
23 Temecula, CA 66.02 16 121 21 55
24 Foster City, CA 65.82 165 7 86 2
25 Fremont, CA 65.73 99 19 57 10
26 Sunnyvale, CA 65.39 74 20 68 11
27 Rocklin, CA 65.16 143 17 27 81
28 Thousand Oaks, CA 65.10 145 17 31 41
29 Lake Forest, CA 64.43 142 49 33 16
30 Martinez, CA 64.37 82 36 29 85
31 Elk Grove, CA 64.11 75 63 15 88
32 Laguna Niguel, CA 64.02 221 44 26 23
33 Santa Clara, CA 63.99 42 54 79 24
34 Camarillo, CA 63.77 177 60 36 32
35 Chino Hills, CA 63.65 90 72 37 44
36 Walnut Creek, CA 63.58 222 27 40 18
37 Menlo Park, CA 63.54 37 29 128 20
38 Mission Viejo, CA 63.38 199 30 49 12
39 Mountain View, CA 63.28 140 13 88 39
40 Redondo Beach, CA 63.05 152 62 35 43
41 Irvine, CA 62.98 90 28 82 30
42 Santee, CA 62.10 166 16 42 108
43 Simi Valley, CA 62.08 148 51 43 58
44 Lincoln, CA 62.01 231 11 47 57
45 Tracy, CA 61.89 134 89 14 97
46 Novato, CA 61.81 127 21 118 51
47 Beaumont, CA 61.42 150 94 20 102
48 Antelope, CA 61.37 47 107 30 117
49 Pacifica, CA 61.17 214 42 64 31
50 Claremont, CA 61.14 161 98 45 48
51 Milpitas, CA 61.00 110 61 77 40
52 Petaluma, CA 60.88 151 43 84 65
T-53 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 60.86 115 109 28 86
T-53 Brea, CA 60.86 173 100 58 26
55 San Clemente, CA 60.85 186 47 73 49
56 Carlsbad, CA 60.84 83 37 78 84
57 Vacaville, CA 60.83 117 78 19 119
58 Morgan Hill, CA 60.54 215 34 62 59
59 Cypress, CA 60.17 198 12 126 28
60 Murrieta, CA 60.16 109 102 50 73
61 Pleasant Hill, CA 60.05 157 148 46 50
62 Diamond Bar, CA 59.96 230 48 68 25
63 Redlands, CA 59.77 108 192 12 89
64 Fair Oaks, CA 59.52 97 31 16 178
65 Santa Clarita, CA 59.49 191 65 38 99
66 Newport Beach, CA 59.28 124 46 107 67
67 Union City, CA 58.82 149 71 96 52
68 Cerritos, CA 58.63 200 119 90 19
69 Temple City, CA 58.57 31 69 187 34
70 Clovis, CA 58.54 88 127 18 155
71 Fountain Valley, CA 58.38 201 39 122 61
72 Corona, CA 58.34 125 135 39 101
73 La Mirada, CA 58.25 233 95 55 37
74 San Dimas, CA 58.17 238 67 48 66
75 Napa, CA 58.15 27 74 162 82
76 Rohnert Park, CA 58.14 131 14 111 124
77 La Verne, CA 57.87 225 93 56 93
78 San Jose, CA 57.85 43 82 143 83
79 Newark, CA 57.74 213 84 97 38
80 Campbell, CA 57.59 138 70 120 71
81 Menifee, CA 56.94 114 134 53 139
82 Torrance, CA 56.86 195 50 125 56
83 Orangevale, CA 56.86 189 101 44 131
84 San Mateo, CA 56.77 163 45 166 46
85 Manteca, CA 56.55 104 140 41 152
86 Turlock, CA 56.46 33 138 67 165
87 South San Francisco, CA 56.28 101 64 189 47
88 Fairfield, CA 56.28 132 126 63 114
89 Redwood City, CA 56.26 50 80 188 59
90 Ventura, CA 56.13 35 131 112 118
91 Lakewood, CA 55.96 146 124 80 90
92 Burbank, CA 55.84 38 108 160 92
93 Arcadia, CA 55.73 210 52 167 44
94 Dana Point, CA 55.68 229 79 108 63
95 Wildomar, CA 55.60 185 104 66 145
96 San Diego, CA 55.58 40 112 151 113
97 Santa Monica, CA 55.57 45 116 117 126
98 Orange, CA 55.56 128 88 141 78
99 Placentia, CA 55.55 212 68 130 72
100 Huntington Beach, CA 55.47 192 77 119 70
101 Yucaipa, CA 55.42 204 92 52 149
102 Hollister, CA 55.35 177 75 92 136
103 Chino, CA 55.20 96 167 83 95
104 San Bruno, CA 54.88 183 123 156 42
105 Culver City, CA 54.72 155 189 71 79
106 Chula Vista, CA 54.62 93 90 127 127
107 Woodland, CA 54.59 120 160 74 130
108 Gilroy, CA 54.55 176 96 98 133
109 Citrus Heights, CA 54.52 76 146 72 156
110 Berkeley, CA 54.52 168 111 87 121
111 San Rafael, CA 54.49 128 73 176 91
112 Monrovia, CA 54.39 220 41 132 103
113 Santa Barbara, CA 53.98 14 140 208 80
114 Castro Valley, CA 53.85 228 91 91 68
115 Glendora, CA 53.80 232 85 133 69
116 La Quinta, CA 53.69 224 164 103 53
117 Santa Rosa, CA 53.64 78 97 163 115
118 Buena Park, CA 53.46 133 139 148 94
119 Bakersfield, CA 53.45 20 224 32 198
120 Hanford, CA 53.11 22 196 51 199
121 Fontana, CA 53.10 62 194 70 163
122 Jurupa Valley, CA 52.99 48 81 110 187
123 San Marcos, CA 52.89 123 58 192 112
124 Rancho Cordova, CA 52.78 64 131 109 175
125 Alameda, CA 52.75 211 66 165 77
126 Tustin, CA 52.73 100 115 181 98
127 Whittier, CA 52.64 71 157 150 128
128 Santa Cruz, CA 52.57 12 170 179 140
129 Fullerton, CA 52.48 87 154 168 100
130 Sacramento, CA 52.36 4 168 124 205
131 La Mesa, CA 52.24 144 118 152 125
132 Beverly Hills, CA 52.12 68 35 211 137
133 San Luis Obispo, CA 52.08 59 137 159 144
134 Visalia, CA 51.65 44 182 59 211
135 Lake Elsinore, CA 51.61 190 161 75 159
136 Ceres, CA 51.59 56 86 100 215
137 Covina, CA 51.52 135 117 131 172
138 San Juan Capistrano, CA 51.48 179 114 173 111
139 Daly City, CA 51.47 226 56 201 54
140 Pasadena, CA 51.47 97 173 136 123
141 Seaside, CA 51.43 29 55 212 148
142 Anaheim, CA 51.26 15 165 204 143
143 West Covina, CA 51.21 169 133 149 129
144 Norwalk, CA 51.10 51 156 169 151
145 Yuba City, CA 51.10 141 113 106 190
146 La Puente, CA 50.71 57 120 193 147
147 Concord, CA 50.42 174 177 142 109
148 Carson, CA 50.38 194 190 76 154
149 Palm Desert, CA 50.30 208 179 144 96
150 Chico, CA 50.14 79 151 153 177
151 Oceanside, CA 49.88 193 149 170 107
152 Lodi, CA 49.70 112 169 138 169
153 Riverside, CA 49.68 69 214 104 171
154 Indio, CA 49.46 21 219 137 179
155 San Leandro, CA 49.18 235 186 114 74
156 La Habra, CA 49.10 207 130 175 132
157 Downey, CA 49.05 121 155 185 142
158 Garden Grove, CA 49.05 94 122 206 140
159 Cathedral City, CA 48.97 5 171 195 181
160 Carmichael, CA 48.90 209 225 54 174
161 Santa Maria, CA 48.84 122 128 184 150
162 Costa Mesa, CA 48.64 116 176 198 106
163 West Sacramento, CA 48.62 137 158 146 186
164 Pico Rivera, CA 48.47 202 150 174 146
165 Porterville, CA 48.46 9 143 135 231
166 Redding, CA 48.44 61 197 171 168
167 Modesto, CA 48.44 28 227 85 213
168 Hayward, CA 48.36 160 166 157 161
169 Apple Valley, CA 48.34 85 184 105 206
170 Upland, CA 48.26 184 162 177 135
171 Antioch, CA 48.26 203 212 61 173
172 Glendale, CA 47.94 139 83 226 121
173 Vista, CA 47.92 136 106 222 116
174 Highland, CA 47.85 65 188 147 192
175 Escondido, CA 47.78 80 147 215 138
176 Baldwin Park, CA 47.44 53 144 205 185
177 Lompoc, CA 47.33 67 59 202 210
178 San Francisco, CA 47.14 128 207 197 105
179 Palmdale, CA 47.05 46 191 121 219
180 Alhambra, CA 47.01 206 99 221 104
181 Merced, CA 46.90 13 181 139 236
182 Azusa, CA 46.77 154 178 180 164
183 Pittsburg, CA 46.73 181 208 99 189
184 Oxnard, CA 46.59 92 198 190 157
185 Ontario, CA 46.54 147 174 164 180
T-186 Santa Ana, CA 46.50 19 172 224 167
T-186 Rialto, CA 46.50 63 201 145 208
188 Salinas, CA 46.34 102 175 203 162
189 Hacienda Heights, CA 46.25 240 211 129 62
190 Los Banos, CA 46.21 180 103 134 228
191 San Gabriel, CA 46.18 217 110 235 75
192 Madera, CA 45.88 26 195 158 221
193 Monterey Park, CA 45.76 237 87 207 120
194 Lancaster, CA 45.72 126 216 101 209
195 Westminster, CA 45.43 164 136 225 134
196 Victorville, CA 45.42 41 233 81 230
197 Tulare, CA 44.96 119 222 94 217
198 San Jacinto, CA 44.67 182 213 93 216
199 Stanton, CA 44.56 73 128 220 183
200 Hesperia, CA 44.39 159 185 123 220
201 Perris, CA 44.37 72 204 154 223
202 Moreno Valley, CA 44.28 158 226 115 203
203 El Centro, CA 44.18 30 215 116 235
204 Watsonville, CA 44.16 49 145 228 193
205 Coachella, CA 43.98 3 209 199 218
206 Bellflower, CA 43.96 103 159 218 188
207 Lawndale, CA 43.74 118 125 232 166
208 Pomona, CA 43.50 85 210 196 191
209 Long Beach, CA 43.36 58 187 214 204
210 Gardena, CA 43.35 167 205 210 153
211 Vallejo, CA 43.27 216 231 89 207
212 Montclair, CA 43.20 106 234 186 170
213 Delano, CA 42.71 6 202 191 234
214 Richmond, CA 42.56 218 203 178 182
215 Los Angeles, CA 42.53 36 199 230 194
216 Paramount, CA 42.45 70 193 213 201
217 Palm Springs, CA 42.21 113 238 155 184
218 El Cajon, CA 42.13 89 153 223 214
219 Stockton, CA 42.06 84 237 113 226
220 South Gate, CA 42.03 1 217 229 212
221 Colton, CA 42.00 95 206 182 222
222 North Highlands, CA 41.34 77 183 161 233
223 Rowland Heights, CA 41.00 236 229 209 76
224 West Hollywood, CA 40.72 234 232 194 160
225 Hawthorne, CA 40.64 18 220 234 200
226 Hemet, CA 40.38 155 235 140 229
227 Fresno, CA 40.28 81 218 172 237
228 Rosemead, CA 40.23 227 105 240 158
229 National City, CA 39.41 66 200 233 196
230 Montebello, CA 39.27 239 163 219 176
231 Lynwood, CA 39.23 8 221 231 227
232 El Monte, CA 38.33 175 152 239 197
233 Bell Gardens, CA 38.17 52 142 237 225
234 Bell, CA 37.88 111 180 236 202
235 Inglewood, CA 36.72 107 223 227 224
236 Calexico, CA 36.26 105 230 183 239
237 Compton, CA 34.35 24 236 216 238
238 San Bernardino, CA 34.01 34 239 200 240
239 Oakland, CA 33.11 196 240 217 195
240 Huntington Park, CA 31.56 170 228 238 232

 

 

How can local officials in California make their cities more attractive to young families?

For many families, the two primary concerns are safety and affordability. There are numerous things a community can do to address both of these issues.

Safety can be as simple as slowing down traffic by reducing speed limits or installing speed bumps. Another structural change could be making sure streets have sidewalks and bike paths. These changes can make roads safer for children and families to walk or ride their bikes to school, work, stores, or the park. Safe places for children to play are incredibly important for child development. Communities can create green spaces or build play structures that allow children to grow and thrive.

Safe and high quality schools are also important to families. Small investments from cities into increasing the quality of teachers and schools, and fostering a family’s connection to the school community can have huge payoffs. It can be especially difficult for families to know the quality of a daycare. Daycares are largely unregulated and many of these centers are not just low quality, but actually dangerous. Cities can help parents by more tightly regulating child care and creating a city wide mandatory rating system so families can know the quality of their care centers. Importantly, hand in hand with these efforts should be policies toward reducing the cost of child care. Many young families in America are struggling to make ends meet, and daycare can take a large percentage of one’s income. Cities can help in a number of ways. Cities can provide extra subsidies for daycares and some cities even provide public all-day preschool and kindergarten. This also means providing before and after school care (and programs during the summer) at public schools. Most people do not work “school hours” and need extra care when public schools are not open. Providing funds for communities centers like a YMCA can also give parents developmentally appropriate and enriching opportunities for their children, that are affordable.

To help families find the best Golden State cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared 240 cities in California (other cities were not included in the sample due to limited data access) across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socioeconomic Environment. We then compiled 22 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights.

In order to obtain the final ranking, we attributed a score between 0 and 100 to correspond with the value of each metric. We then calculated the weighted sum of the scores and used the overall score to rank the cities. Together, the points attributed to the four major categories below add up to 100 points.

Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25

  • Number of Playgrounds per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Number of Ice Rinks per 100,000 Residents: Half Weight (~1.92 Points)
  • Number of Attractions (e.g., zoos, museums, theaters): Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Percentage of Families with Children Younger than Age 18: Double Weight (~7.69 Points)
  • WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)

Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25

  • Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
  • Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Number of Pediatricians per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Percentage of Children (newborn to age 18) Lacking Health Insurance Coverage: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Violent-Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
  • Property-Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)

Affordability – Total Points: 25

  • Housing Affordability (median annual family income divided by housing costs; accounts for both rent and house prices): Full Weight (~12.5 Points)
  • General Affordability (median family annual income divided by cost of living index): Full Weight (~12.5 Points)

Socioeconomic Environment – Total Points: 25

  • Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Percentage of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Percentage of Families Below Poverty Line: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Percentage of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

 

Sources: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Renwood RealtyTrac LLC, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, Tripadvisor and WalletHub research.

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