Nearly every couple planning to have kids has the same conversation at some point: Do we raise our kids here, or move somewhere else? That’s especially true if you live in a big city, since the cost of living is generally higher and the quality of public education tends to be more varied.
According to Rent.com, which surveyed 1,000 parents from all over the country, 34 percent are raising their kids in the city and would do it again. Easy access to a wide variety of foods, people and art, combined with a more diverse population than most suburbs, are the main reasons most parents chose to stay in the big city.
The same survey revealed that 56 percent of parents are concerned with safety when it comes to raising kids in the city, and 23 percent of parents find city living cost-prohibitive. With those concerns in mind, Rent.com identified the top rental markets for raising a family based on inventory of apartments, cost of living, violent crime rate and graduation rate.
In alphabetical order, those cities are:
This fun, funky city is known for its quirks. Live music is popular every night of the week with the locals, and there’s always something to do. The neighborhood feel of this city makes residents feel at home, and it’s a great place for an active family. From hiking to biking to visiting peacocks in Mayfield Park, the kids will always have something to keep them occupied.
This affordable Midwestern city has some of the top public schools in the nation, making it a winner among families. During summers and after school, kids can explore the themed indoor and outdoor play parks peppered all over the city. For bird lovers big and small, Columbus offers Pickerington Ponds, an Audubon-designated park where residents can hike, bike and explore over 260 species of birds.
Families in Dallas enjoy the perks of a big city but have a more reasonable cost of living than many other large metros in the U.S. Dallas is filled with family-friendly fun, including zoos, parks and children’s theater. It’s also a big sports town; both kids and adults can enjoy cheering on the city’s football and baseball teams, the Cowboys and Rangers.
If you’re a family looking for outdoor fun, look no further than Denver. The Mile High City has the biggest public parks system of any U.S. city, so there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking and rock climbing. There’s plenty of culture, too – if you’re looking for fun indoor activities, head to the art or science museum and then to one of Denver’s delicious restaurants for lunch.
Omaha has a lot going for it. The public school system is great, the crime rate is low and the cost of living is highly affordable. If you think Omaha is too rural for your kids to enjoy, think again. The city has a zoo which features the world’s largest indoor desert, a world-class children’s museum and plenty of other big-city attractions.
This southwestern city has a reputation for attracting retirees with a passion for golf, but the warm climate and gorgeous scenery also attract plenty of families. During the summer heat, kids can enjoy the indoors at the Challenger Space Center or the Octane Raceway, America’s largest indoor go-kart racing venue. When it cools off, head outdoors to do some hiking or biking on the trails through the Sonoran desert.
Families love Portland for its high graduation rate, low crime rate and access to culture. A foodie’s paradise, this city is also known as a haven for green living. Bicycles are everywhere, and many restaurants use locally-grown ingredients in their food. The atmosphere, combined with the beautiful backdrop of the mountains, make this city a hit.
San Diego has it all: gorgeous weather, great beaches and plenty of family-friendly attractions downtown. Enjoy a day with the kids at SeaWorld or the famous San Diego zoo, and do some windsurfing at the Mission Bay Aquatic Park. Make sure to take the Trolley, a favorite of kids and kids-at-heart.
One of the best parts about living in San Jose is convenience – the city is known for its public transit. This tech hub offers plenty of fun for families, from the world’s largest Monopoly board to the Children’s Discovery Museum. Happy Hollow Zoo and Park, home to a variety of exotic animals and opportunities for outdoor adventure, is also popular with families in the area.
Seattle is beautiful, but it also has brains: The city has a very high graduation rate and a reputation for academic excellence. In fact, big-brained Microsoft magnate Bill Gates calls the Seattle area home. There is plenty to do outdoors, with the Puget Sound and Olympic mountains as the perfect setting for boating, hiking and biking.
Related stories on Yahoo! Homes:
• Rental costs, city vs. suburbs: a handy infographic
• Choosing between living in cities or suburbs
• City vs. suburbs: Does the setting change the way you parent?
• Tips for moving with young children in tow