The Best and Worst States for Raising a Family in 2019

glenda / Shutterstock.com

We all want what’s best for our families. When deciding where to live, many of us look for amenities, safety, good schools and plenty of wholesome activities.

A 2020 WalletHub study scored and ranked U.S. states based on what they offer families. The study looked at 50 characteristics, including housing affordability, unemployment rate, median family salary, health and safety.

If you’re trying to figure out where to move — or where to avoid — based on what would be good for your family, consider the following best and worst states for families.

No. 10 best state: Washington

Total score: 56.39

No. 9 best state: Connecticut

Total score: 56.76

No. 8 best state: Nebraska

Total score: 58.02

No. 7 best state: New Jersey

Racheal Grazias / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 59.12

Well-situated on the Eastern Seaboard, New Jersey offers proximity to big-city experiences in New York and Philadelphia, as well as a taste of rural life when you get out of the urban areas.

And, of course, the Jersey Shore is known for its boardwalks and beaches. And, get this: New Jersey comes in ahead of all other states for affordability.

No. 6 best state: New York

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 60.71

New York City gets all the news, but the state isn’t just the Big Apple. There are plenty of outdoor activities in other parts of the state.

With Lake George, the Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls, there are many places to explore when you live in New York state.

No. 5 best state: New Hampshire

Karen Wunderman / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 60.94

New Hampshire ranks No. 2 in the nation for health and safety. It also scored well for affordability and in the category of education and child care.

The state comes out less well in WalletHub’s family fun category.

No. 4 best state: Vermont

Syed Bilal Javaid / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 61.09

Like neighboring New Hampshire, Vermont scores low in the family fun category, which awards points for fitness and recreation centers, parks, playgrounds and high numbers of young families.

But it has lots to offer when it comes to the outdoors, especially with autumn activities amid the colorful fall foliage in the Green Mountain State.

The state came in second in the nation for health and safety and in the top ten for affordability and education and childcare. It has interesting historic sites and access to small-city amenities in the town of Burlington.

No. 3 best state: North Dakota

Olga Enger / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 62.40

North Dakota is one of the best places to raise a family, says WalletHub. Like some other states, it doesn’t score high for recreational attractions. But it’s first in the nation for education and child care, sixth for health and safety and eighth for affordability.

You might be surprised at the activities available in North Dakota. These include parks, historic sites and museums. Plenty of outdoor activities abound.

No. 2 best state: Massachusetts

Lighthouse in Massachusetts
Newcastle / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 63.22

From Cape Cod to Boston, Massachusetts has plenty for everyone in the family — and that’s why the state gets high marks, ranking eighth, for family fun.

As you might expect, Massachusetts is not the most affordable state to live in. But it’s not the worst, at 20th out of 50 states. Its high rankings for education and child care and for health and safety might help make up for that.

No. 1 best state: Minnesota

Mitch Boeck / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 63.71

Minnesota’s biggest city, Minneapolis, has been a focus of turmoil this year after George Floyd’s death by police officers there set off protests that roiled the country.

The state, however, ranks consistently high for health and safety and for education and childcare. This survey puts it at 13th for affordability.

There’s plenty to do in Minnesota, dubbed the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Summertime fun is in and on the water; winter activities include hockey, ice fishing and ice carnivals. Professional sports teams and big-time shopping at the Mall of America fill out the list of activities.

If your family is looking for the right combination of affordability, safety, education and activities, Minnesota might be worth a look.

No. 10 worst state: Arizona

Total score: 40.78

No. 9 worst state: Georgia

My Good Images / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 39.42 out of 100

Georgia ranks poorly in most of the metrics used by WalletHub, so it’s no surprise that the state is near the bottom of the 50-state list.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to enjoy about the state. Atlanta houses a great aquarium and plenty of other big-city amenities. And no one can dispute the charm of Savannah.

No. 8 worst state: South Carolina

StacieStauffSmith / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 39.25

South Carolina draws tourists to its beautiful beaches and charming cities like Charleston.

But it’s not among the best states in which to raise a family, according to WalletHub. It ranked relatively low across the board in the metrics identified as making a place “family friendly:” family fun, 49; affordability, 43; health and safety, 39; and education and childcare, 34.

No. 7 worst state: Oklahoma

ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 37.02

Even with the plethora of outdoor activities and interesting things to do, Oklahoma doesn’t rank well in terms in this study of places to raise a family.

The state’s falls to the bottom of the pile — 50th — for health and safety. It also ranks toward the bottom for family fun and education and childcare. It earned a low score of 42 for affordability. All this could mean you’d find it a hard place to give kids a good start.

No. 6 worst state: Arkansas

IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 36.98

Arkansas has one of the higher infant mortality rates among the states, and WalletHub ranks it 47th of the 50 states for education and healthcare.

It comes in near the bottom in the category of family fun in this ranking. Its scores were in the 30s, below the national average, for affordability and education and childcare. On the plus side, childcare costs here are among the lowest in the country.

No. 5 worst state: Alabama

Leslie Stewart Gafford / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 36.78

Alabama has some beautiful shores along the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s hard to compete with the fun to be had at Space Camp in Huntsville.

However, Alabama has the highest infant mortality rate in the country, as well as a high percentage of families living in poverty.

No. 4 worst state: West Virginia

Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 36.57

West Virginia is beautiful, no doubt. But it also includes the lowest number of families with young kids and ranks No. 50 in the family fun category.

No. 3 worst state: Louisiana

jaimie tuchman / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 36.35

Even though the lively scene of New Orleans and the beauty of the swamps draw tourists to Louisiana each year, the state is not one of the best places to raise a family, WalletHub found.

With a high infant mortality rate, a high percentage of families in poverty and a high rate of violent crimes per capita, Louisiana can be a tough state to make it in.

No. 2 worst state: Mississippi

Realest Nature / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 31.88

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is lovely, and there are plenty of beautiful things to see in the state.

However, it makes it tough to raise a family when you consider that Mississippi has the highest percentage of families in poverty, a high divorce rate and a high infant mortality rate.

No. 1 worst state: New Mexico

Sarmiento Photography / Shutterstock.com

Total score: 30.68

The Land of Enchantment might not be the most enchanting place to raise a family. Tourists might flock to the unique and beautiful landscape, but living in New Mexico presents its own challenges.

New Mexico ranks near the bottom in all the metrics used by WalletHub. Additionally, New Mexico is tied with Alaska and Tennessee for the highest per-capita rate of violent crime. Additionally, New Mexico has a high divorce rate and a median family salary that is close to the bottom of the pack.

What do you consider the best or worst state in which to raise a family? Let us know why by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car

These tools and conveniences help protect drivers from hassles and calamities on the road.

How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale
17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

Real estate agents give these renovations low marks when it comes to helping sell homes.

26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000
26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000

These lucrative gigs let you work in your slippers.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

8 Things That Are Free in August
8 Things That Are Free in August

As summer enters the home stretch, we’ve rounded up these sizzling freebies.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.