The 10 Best States To Raise A Family In America For 2021

We used science and data to determine which states in the USA have the best set up for children: a lot to do, good schools, and no crime.

HomeSnacks is reader-supported. When you click through real estate links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best states for families in America.

Best States To Raise A Family In America Map

Click to enlarge

In today’s America, people don’t stay in one place for too long. With the economy doing so well lately, it seems Americans are moving more now more than ever. Sometimes, it’s for retirement, or to transfer jobs. But in many cases, it’s to start a better life for their family.

In fact, recent research suggests that families are moving far more often than ever before. With that in mind, people are always trying to figure out – where’s the next best place to take the family?

We understand that everyone is different; some people want to be by nature, and some people want to (or have to) live in bigger cities. But for the most part, we all want the same thing when we consider a place to move with the wife and kids. The states we’re going to talk about are the places where kids will have the best potential to thrive, and where families will be most comfortable. These are the states that have good jobs for mom and dad, and they’re safe, too. We also took into account a number of kid friendly factors.

For many Americans, moving means a better life for their family. Does where kids are raised make a difference? You betcha.

The 10 Best States To Raise A Family In America For 2021

  1. Maine
  2. Vermont
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Nebraska
  5. Iowa
  6. Wyoming
  7. South Dakota
  8. Connecticut
  9. Idaho
  10. North Dakota

Now that we have a top ten, what’s the best state to raise a family overall? Maine ranks as the best state to raise a family based on data around affordability, things to do, and safety. The general assumption would be a great place for families would be safe, offer plenty of great schools, and have lot of room for growth. We took that all into account, and made some other assumptions as well.

So pack the toys, the Xboxes, and your old high school yearbooks up as we take you through America’s best states to raise kids. For exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on. Or, if the state where you live is just peachy keen, and you’re not moving an inch, check out:

The 10 Best States For Families In America For 2021

1. Maine

Maine|Me, ME

Population: 1,335,492
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 845
Households with kids: 25.4%
More On Maine: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

We unpack our things in Maine, where it smells of pine needles. Why Maine, you say? After all, isn’t in the 4th most boring state in America? Yes, it is. Isn’t it fairly expensive you say? Not really, it’s about average.

What really makes Maine a great place to raise a family are the non-exciting things that a responsible parent pays attention to. There are hardly any violent crimes way up here, which makes sense – much of the chaos is way down the coast. Families have great health coverage in Maine, and life expectancy is really high. Air pollution is really low, and and water quality’s great. And schools are some of the most consistently solid in all the land.

2. Vermont

Vermont|Vt, VT

Population: 624,313
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 533
Households with kids: 25.2%
More On Vermont: Biggest Cities | Photos

Vermont has the best health and safety index ranking in America. Most families have health care coverage, and the doctor to resident ratio is really low. There aren’t any real natural disasters here – despite long periods of snowfall – things are relatively quiet.

Plus, Vermont is one of the safest states in America. Part of the reason people move from their home state is because of crime. You won’t find that here.

What’s odd about Vermont, though, is, despite the fact that on paper, it’s an amazing place to raise a family, it has the least number of households with kids at home. Why is that? Look, you can pick pumpkins and ride in tractors and golf! And there’s a great lake in which to boat! The kids won’t get into mischief living here, that’s for sure.

3. New Hampshire

New-Hampshire|Nh, NH

Population: 1,348,124
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 667
Households with kids: 27.5%
More On New Hampshire: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

Where’s the third best place in America in which to raise your family? Right next door in New Hampshire, that’s where.

Now, most of your family members couldn’t even point to New Hampshire on a map, much less explain to their friends what to expect when they move here, but you know what? Tough cookies. You’re the parent. They’ll make new friends.

New Hampshire and Vermont are just about tied in every category. There’s technically a few more things to do in New Hampshire for fun, and New Hampshire is a wee bit safer. Plus, you can say you’re from New Hampshire.

4. Nebraska

Nebraska|Ne, NE

Population: 1,914,571
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 694
Households with kids: 31.4%
More On Nebraska: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

If you already live in Nebraska, you know – this is a great place for families. It’s practically all butterflies and rainbows around these parts when it comes to pace of life. And Nebraska is second only to Iowa when it comes to cost of living. There would be lots of other kids to play with, too – Nebraska has the most number of families with children of any other state on this list. As long as you’re not moving to Nebraska to start a farm, your kids would have plenty of playmates.

Omaha and Lincoln each have plenty of family friendly stuff going on, so you won’t completely die of boredom. But, mom and dad, you’re likely going to lose that beach body at some point – Nebraskans aren’t necessarily the healthiest people in the land. Perhaps, it’s the long winter months indoors, or all the bread pudding, cornhuskers’ casserole and fried tenderloins.

You’ll be happy, pudgy proud parents sitting on your porches, watching the fireflies.

5. Iowa

Iowa|Ia, IA

Population: 3,139,508
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 1307
Households with kids: 29.7%
More On Iowa: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

Do you like wide open spaces? How about small town life? Enjoy meat and potatoes? Then Iowa is a place you and your family would LOVE.

Here, families earn the 5th highest incomes, per capita, relative to cost of living. Which means, Iowans aren’t necessarily ballers, but they bring home more than enough bacon to cover their mortgages and car payments. Iowa has the most affordable housing costs in all the land, too. Iowa is also really safe – so you wouldn’t have to worry about the ghetto crap you see in large urban areas.

For fun – meeeh. It’s not South Dakota boring, but you’d have to lower your standards if you’re used to all the big city hootin and hollerin. It’s a different kind of fun – you learn to take pride in your small town lifestyle here.

6. Wyoming

Wyoming|Wy, WY

Population: 581,024
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 260
Households with kids: 29.8%
More On Wyoming: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

While the long, dusty expanses of Wyoming might make your kids want to stab their eyeballs out of boredom. The kids won’t be happy about it, but they’ll adjust.

Now, there’s not as much ‘fun’ stuff for kids to do here as in other places, but overall, Wyoming rocks when it comes to the stuff parents care about. There are great hospitals here, especially children’s hospital – so when you get sick, you don’t have to worry about long lines and other BS as much as you do in states like California. In terms of affordability, Wyoming will let your savings account head in the right direction – up. As you may know, homes cost a lot less here than they do in places like Florida.

For fun, the kids will just have to learn to love sledding, ice skating and getting in snowball fights. What’s wrong with that? There isn’t a state within 200 miles where you’d find a better combination of safety, great schools and happy, healthy homes.

7. South Dakota

South-Dakota|Sd, SD

Population: 870,638
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 413
Households with kids: 30.0%
More On South Dakota: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

The bad news first: Obviously, the ‘fun’ factor is through the floor. South Dakota ranks 6th to last in a recent ‘fun’ index ranking. Sure, you have enough to keep the kids entertained during the week, but for family vacations, you gotta get creative.

But, did you know South Dakota has the second lowest child care costs? I did not know that Mappy, but that’s a good point. Mom and dad will be fired up about that. Mom can pump em out and not have to worry about putting such a big strain on the family budget. And life expectancy in South Dakota is 8th highest in the US. So mom and dad can get all old and gray and crabby.

Does dad fish? They have great fishing. Ask the people who live in South Dakota. It’s a great place to raise a family. Just don’t bring your BS with you, and you’ll fit right in.

8. Connecticut

Connecticut|Ct, CT

Population: 3,575,074
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 818
Households with kids: 29.4%
More On Connecticut: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

Connecticut has a lot going for it. Outside of Hartford, Waterbury, and Bridgeport, many people think it’s a wonderful place. And the data backs it up. Connecticut ranks in the top 20 for every single category measured. It’s not the most boring place in the nation by any stretch, the hospitals and schools are pretty great — and Connecticut socio economics rank is actually one of the highest in America, taking into account family value type measurements like divorce rates, quality of jobs, and family incomes.

Connecticut is the 5th safest state to live. And there’s a lot of money and success here, too. Meaning your kids would have a lot of opportunities – especially if they want to be bankers.

9. Idaho

Idaho|Id, ID

Population: 1,717,750
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 384
Households with kids: 32.2%
More On Idaho: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

Idaho keeps showing up on our lists this year, breaking into the top ten left and right. In this case, it ranks as the ninth best state to raise a family for 2021.

Taking a look at the data, there are two main reasons that Idaho ranks so high. First, the crime rates are some of the best in the country. Property crimes and violent crimes are both in the ten lowest for the most recent reporting year. That means that you can leave the door unlocked when you go the park in the morning and no one will break in.

The other factor contributing to Idaho’s ranking is the high percentage of households with kids. When a large number of households have children, then people tend to share the same values, interests, and sense of community. All of those things come together to make an excellent place to raise a family.

10. North Dakota

North-Dakota|Nd, ND

Population: 756,717
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 411
Households with kids: 27.8%
More On North Dakota: Biggest Cities | Photos | Average Rent

Good news everyone! We’re here at our new home in North Dakota. Time to get out of this godforsaken moving truck once and for all.

If you thought South Dakota is a state full of vim and vigor, wait until you experience the stimulating state of North Dakota! Okay, seriously, the wife and kids will probably never talk to you again if you move them here, but at least YOU get to experience all the cost savings and peace of mind of living in the Roughrider State.

Cost of living wise, North Dakota is the best on this list, which is the main reason hardly anyone here lives in poverty. That’s also one big reason North Dakota has the nation’s lowest divorce rate, outside of Utah. There are many other factors that make North Dakota a great place to raise your family. The quality of the schools is great – and the schools are a big part of families’ lives in North Dakota – more so than most other places you could call home.

People in North Dakota live there because they like the peace and quiet. So no late night parties in these parts, mister.

How We Determined The Best States to Raise A Family in America For 2021

When the folks at HomeSnacks analyze a place to live, we look at statistics you can find anywhere online. You can get any demographic on anyone out there. You only have to sort it and look at it a certain way.

For this analysis we took into account the — U.S. Census’s 2015-2019 ACS. The census compiles the best set of geographical data on for populations in each state.

We combined their data with College Scorecard data and the FBI to reach the following set of items:

  • Number of colleges nearby
  • Population density
  • Quality of education
  • Crime
  • Healthcare
  • Jobs (or lack of them)

Specifically, this analysis bases the rankings on the assumption that states with qualities we’d all agree are desirable would be the best places for families to live. We ranked each state for each one of the categories and averaged them out to create a “Family Index”. The state that came out the best for families? Maine.

You can download the data here.

There You Have It — The Best States in America to Raise a Family For 2021

After measuring pretty much every category we could think of to decide which states are best, it’s clear – the northeast and midwest are awesome places to raise kids and settle down. If you already live in one of these states, consider yourself lucky. If you’re thinking about moving away for a job, or to get a fresh start, these are your best starting points.

What else do these states have in common? They are the least diverse states, too. So, if you want your kids to grow up in a community with varying viewpoints, than you should take them to places like California or Texas.

While it’s good news for the states we mentioned, we have to throw some love at the worst states to raise a family in America. If you live in Florida, Arizona, or South Carolina, you’ve certainly got some great areas. But overall, there’s a lot to be desired.

But it could be worse. You could live in Alaska.

Here’s a quick look at the bottom of the list:

  1. Florida
  2. South Carolina
  3. Nevada

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best States To Raise A Family In America For 2021

Rank State Population Amenity Score
1 Maine 1,335,492 870
2 Vermont 624,313 546
3 New Hampshire 1,348,124 664
4 Nebraska 1,914,571 692
5 Iowa 3,139,508 1296
6 Wyoming 581,024 283
7 South Dakota 870,638 410
8 Connecticut 3,575,074 839
9 Idaho 1,717,750 374
10 North Dakota 756,717 427
11 Massachusetts 6,850,553 1536
12 Kansas 2,910,652 981
13 Rhode Island 1,057,231 274
14 West Virginia 1,817,305 458
15 Wisconsin 5,790,716 1388
16 New Jersey 8,878,503 1169
17 Kentucky 4,449,052 692
18 Montana 1,050,649 418
19 Virginia 8,454,463 1176
20 Minnesota 5,563,378 929
21 Oklahoma 3,932,870 797
22 Alaska 737,068 299
23 Pennsylvania 12,791,530 1752
24 New York 19,572,319 2137
25 Illinois 12,770,631 1826
26 Utah 3,096,848 314
27 Indiana 6,665,703 1016
28 Ohio 11,655,397 1484
29 Mississippi 2,984,418 367
30 Oregon 4,129,803 784
31 Hawaii 1,422,094 239
32 Michigan 9,965,265 1520
33 New Mexico 2,092,454 486
34 Missouri 6,104,910 1047
35 Arkansas 2,999,370 470
36 Alabama 4,876,250 782
37 Colorado 5,610,349 858
38 Maryland 6,018,848 752
39 Washington 7,404,107 890
40 North Carolina 10,264,876 1024
41 Georgia 10,403,847 857
42 Delaware 957,248 218
43 Tennessee 6,709,356 876
44 Texas 28,260,856 1798
45 California 39,283,497 1583
46 Louisiana 4,664,362 554
47 Arizona 7,050,299 630
48 Nevada 2,972,382 248
49 South Carolina 5,020,806 535
50 Florida 20,901,636 1292

Family Places By State

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.