These California cities ranked as best places in the U.S. to raise a family in 2024

There's nothing quite like living in California. For natives and transplants alike, some consider themselves lucky to call the Golden State home and fully embrace all that comes with it.

While some Californians have flocked to other states, with many citing financial reasons, others cannot imagine living or raising their family elsewhere.

A new WalletHub study ranked the best U.S. cities to raise a family and not only did one California city top the list, five others ranked in the nation's top 15. 

In addition, the top city on the list was also named the "happiest," for the fourth year in a row. For those in disbelief, remember that this list doesn't highlight the most affordable cities in the U.S. When looking at the best cities to raise a family, one could argue that it also comes with a hefty price tag as inflation continues to plague many American families. 



A family hits the California coast. (Photo by Kevin Carter/Getty Images)

Researchers at WalletHub looked at 45 factors when comparing 180 U.S. cities, including the cost of housing, the quality of local schools and healthcare systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation.

"Finding the best place to raise a family is difficult, between balancing an affordable cost of living with good educational opportunities, safety and enough recreation to keep kids entertained, explained WalletHub analyst, Cassandra Harpe. 


She continued to write, "On top of all of these factors, people also often want to raise their children close to their extended family. Therefore, current or prospective parents can benefit from narrowing down their choices to a few of the best cities that are within a reasonable drive of their family."

See the list results below.

Top 15 U.S. Cities to Raise a Family

1. Fremont, California

2. Overland Park, Kansas

3. Irvine, California

4. Plano, Texas

5. Seattle, Washington

6. Gilbert, Arizona

7. San Jose, California

8. San Diego, California

9. Boise, Idaho

10. Huntington Beach, California

11. Bismarck, North Dakota

12. San Francisco, California

13. Scottsdale, Arizona

14. Charleston, South Carolina

15. Madison, Wisconsin

Source: WalletHub

More on Fremont, California

WalletHub explained economic factors were the main reason Fremont topped the list. The family-friendly Northern California city has a median household income near $122,000, with the fourth-lowest share of families that live in poverty. 

Many of the city’s schools rated at least 7 out of 10 with a handful of summer camp opportunities. 

More on Irvine, California

Data from WalletHub indicates this Orange County city has the lowest violent crime rate per capita. In addition to safety, the study found Irvine has excellent schools. To top that off, Irvine has the third-lowest separation and divorce rate in the nation. 

Other California cities rank in the top 50 best U.S. cities to raise a family

Other California cities that ranked in the top 50 were Rancho Cucamonga (No. 33), Santa Rosa (No. 37), Santa Clarita (No. 41), Chula Vista (No. 43) and Sacramento (No. 47). 

See the full study here.