The best places to raise a family are often found on the edges of large metropolitan areas, where residents enjoy a better standard of living for less as well as greater access to recreational spaces. It’s easy to see why the suburban lifestyle can be appealing: Overall, suburban communities tend to be wealthier, better-educated and healthier in comparison to their inner-city and rural counterparts.
Related: 20 Best Suburbs for Retirees
To find the best suburbs in every state, GOBankingRates conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the cost of living, quality of schools and safety in suburban areas surrounding the biggest cities across the country. Factors in this study included:
- Median home list price, sourced from Zillow’s November 2020 index
- Annual cost of groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey
- Quality of school districts, sourced from Niche
- Violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout
Although many people are working from home these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still a lot to be said for living within commuting distance to top job opportunities. The benefits of living near open spaces with lots of outdoor recreation opportunities make suburbs even more attractive. If this sounds appealing, settling down in the suburbs might be the right choice for your family — and it won’t break the bank.
Last updated: Jan. 11, 2021
- Birmingham: Vestavia Hills
- Huntsville: Athens
- Montgomery: Millbrook
Millbrook, a suburb of Montgomery, offers the third-cheapest median home list price of all the places on GOBankingRates’ list, at $144,362. If you’re particularly concerned about your child’s education, Vestavia Hills City Schools near Birmingham received an overall A-plus plus grade from Niche. It’s one of seven school districts on the list to earn this top rating.
- Anchorage: Palmer
This suburban area sees relatively high violent and property crime rates, witnessing 3.56 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 33.4 property crimes per 1,000 residents. But it’s not all bad news: Niche gave Palmer’s local school district, Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, a respectable B-plus grade for overall quality.
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- Phoenix: Gold Canyon
- Tucson: Sahuarita
The top suburbs in Arizona have strengths in different areas. Sahuarita offers lower housing costs, with a median home list price of $257,265. In comparison, the median home list price in Gold Canyon is $358,883. However, Sahuarita is also cheaper for non-housing necessities such as healthcare, utilities and transportation. The Sahuarita Unified School District also received higher grade for overall quality — a B compared to Gold Canyon’s Apache Junction Unified School District’s C rating.
- Little Rock: Cabot
Out of all the suburbs that made GOBankingRates’ list, Cabot boasts the 10th-lowest median home list price. At $161,510, it’s relatively inexpensive to purchase a dwelling here. What’s more, the Cabot School District gets an A-minus rating.
- Los Angeles: Yorba Linda
- Sacramento: Lincoln
- San Diego: Poway
- San Francisco: Martinez
- San Jose: Milpitas
Housing in California is notoriously pricey. For example, the median home list price in Milpitas is $1,166,649 — the most expensive in this ranking. However, the Golden State provides a strong foundation for your child’s education. Of seven school districts, two scored A-plus, one scored an A-minus and the rest scored a B or B-plus.
- Colorado Springs: Monument
- Denver: Castle Rock
There’s a significant difference between Monument and Castle Rock when it comes to housing costs, with Monument’s median list price topping Castle Rock’s by over $70,000. However, both suburbs have similar combined non-housing necessity costs, and both school districts received impressive A-minus.
- Bridgeport: Shelton
This Bridgeport suburb is relatively safe, with 0.56 violent crimes per 1,000 residents — the 13th-lowest rate out of all the suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. The Shelton School District earned a solid B grade from Niche for overall quality, which means it’s an ideal area to raise children if you can afford the high housing costs. The median home list price in Shelton is $380,515, which puts it in the top quarter among all the suburbs listed.
- Wilmington: Hockessin
With a median list price of $459,719, homes are not very affordable in Hockessin. But it’s among the safest suburbs on the list, with a violent crime rate of 0.79 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 7.56 per 1,000 residents. The Red Clay Consolidated School District gets a B-plus for overall quality.
- Jacksonville: Fleming Island
- Miami: Sunrise
- Orlando: Tavares
- Tampa: Wesley Chapel
Out of all the top Florida suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, Tavares has the least expensive housing: The median home list price is $225,036. If you’re more concerned about safety, look to Fleming Island. The suburb sees 0.7 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, which is better than the crime rates found in Sunrise, Tavares and Wesley Chapel.
- Atlanta: Sugar Hill
Sugar Hill, the top suburb of Atlanta, has a median home list price of $295,218. The combined cost of nonhousing necessities — including groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation — is $19,031.53 per year for residents. Additionally, Sugar Hill’s local school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, earned an excellent A-minus grade from Niche for overall quality.
- Honolulu: Kailua
At $24,843.76, the annual combined cost of nonhousing necessities in Kailua is the priciest out of all the suburbs included on GOBankingRates’ list. Still, this Honolulu suburb might be your best option in the Aloha State. No matter where you choose to settle down in Hawaii, it’s going to be expensive.
- Boise: Meridian
If you’re determined to provide your child with the best education, there’s a clear winner among Meridian’s three school districts based on overall quality. The West Ada School District earned an A-minus grade from Niche, while the Compass Public Charter School and Idaho Virtual Academy earned B-plus and C-plus grades, respectively.
Overall, the combined cost of groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation in Meridian is relatively low, at $17,790.38 per year.
- Chicago: Carpentersville
Chicago might be one of the best cities to raise a family. The Windy City’s top suburb, Carpentersville, has modest violent and property crime rates. Carpentersville residents experience 0.9 violent crimes and 13.22 property crimes per 1,000 residents, putting the suburb in the top 38% of listed suburbs in terms of safety.
- Fort Wayne: New Haven
- Indianapolis: Greenfield
New Haven, the top suburb of Fort Wayne, offers the seventh-cheapest median home list price out of all the suburbs on this list, at $152,505. However, Indianapolis’ best suburb is decidedly safer. Greenfield experiences 0.66 violent crimes and 3.41 property crimes per 1,000 residents, compared to 2.55 violent crimes and 10.18 property crimes per 1,000 residents in New Haven.
- Des Moines: Norwalk
This Des Moines suburb ranks relatively well across most categories in the study. Norwalk experiences 1.13 violent crimes and 11.29 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The median home list price is $245,660, and the combined cost of non-housing necessities is $18,638.19 per year. Norwalk Community School District earned a praiseworthy B-plus grade from Niche for overall quality.
- Wichita: Haysville
Housing, groceries, healthcare and transportation are all relatively cheap in Haysville compared to the rest of America. The median home list price in Wichita’s top suburb is $149,809, which is the fifth-lowest on the GOBankingRates’ list. Residents can expect to spend an average of $18,563.29 per year on non-housing necessities.
- Lexington: Winchester
- Louisville: Shelbyville
Nonhousing necessities are about equally affordable in Winchester and Shelbyville, costing $17,901.62 and $18,375.90 per year, respectively. Healthcare expenses are also about the same — and slightly below the national average. Groceries, transportation and utilities are also comparable between the suburbs and slightly below the national average. However, Winchester is generally safer than Shelbyville, with 0.86 violent crimes per 1,000 residents compared to Shelbyville’s 1.23 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
- Baton Rouge: Baker
- New Orleans: Slidell
St. Tammany Parish Public Schools in Slidell won an exemplary A-minus grade from Niche for overall quality — a drastic difference from the Baker City Public Schools district, which was slapped with an alarming D-minus. However, those without children might still find Baker appealing thanks to its lower housing costs. The median home list price in Baker is $140,351, which is significantly lower than the median home list price of $185,872 in Slidell.
- Portland: Saco
Saco is indeed the top suburb of Portland, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stand out in any particular cost-of-living or safety category. Both local school districts in the suburb, Regional School Unit No. 23 (MSAD 23) and Saco Public Schools earned a B from Niche in terms of overall quality. As a bright spot, transportation costs in Saco are 7.1% lower compared to the national average.
- Baltimore: Havre de Grace
- Washington, D.C.: Damascus
Damascus is significantly more expensive than Havre de Grace when it comes to housing costs and non-housing necessities, but those additional expenses might be worth it for families. Washington’s top suburb offers a slightly higher-rated school district than Baltimore’s best suburb, and it’s also safer, witnessing about 30% fewer violent crimes and nearly 50% fewer property crimes.
- Boston: Reading
Reading, the top suburb of Boston, stands out in different ways. This area is especially safe, experiencing 0.2 violent crimes and 5.76 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which are low crime rates compared to the other top suburbs in the country. However, Reading is also particularly pricey in terms of housing, with a median home list price of $692,221.
- Detroit: Berkley
Berkley is a good choice for families who want to live in Detroit. The Berkley School District earned an exceptional A grade from Niche for overall quality, and the suburb experiences relatively low crime rates, with 0.39 violent crimes and 5.77 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
- Minneapolis: Cottage Grove
The top suburb of Minneapolis deserves to be recognized for its safe neighborhoods: Cottage Grove is positioned comfortably within the top 30% of the other best suburbs in America in terms of safety. It sees 0.67 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
- Jackson: Clinton
Compared to the other top suburbs in the U.S., Clinton has both personal safety and housing affordability going for it. The median home list price is $165,200, and Clinton experiences just 0.6 violent crimes per 1000 residents. However, its property crime rate is one of the highest on the list at 21.37 per 1,000 residents.
- Kansas City: Excelsior Springs
- St. Louis: Saint Charles
Missouri residents concerned about neighborhood safety might prefer Excelsior Springs, Kansas City’s top suburb, because it’s slightly safer than Saint Charles. Housing is less expensive, with a median home list price of $147,034 compared to $235,462 for a home in Saint Charles. However, families should also keep in mind that Excelsior Springs School District scores a B-minus for overall quality, whereas Saint Charles school district scores range from A to B-plus.
- Billings: Laurel
Compared to the other top suburbs in the nation, Laurel falls about in the middle in terms of median home list prices, with a median price of $271,535. Transportation costs in this Billings suburb are 7.5% cheaper than the national average, so it’s less expensive for residents to get around town.
- Omaha: Papillion
Papillion’s Papillion-La Vista School District stands out for earning a distinguished A grade from Niche for overall quality. That might justify the cost of living — the median home list price is $286,657 in this Omaha suburb, and other necessities cost an additional $19,952.66 per year, on average.
- Las Vegas: Laughlin
As its proximity to the debauchery happening in Sin City might suggest, Laughlin has the highest violent crime rate of any suburb on this list, with 5.79 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. But some might be willing to risk it for the chance to purchase a reasonably priced home this close to Las Vegas. Laughlin’s median list price is an affordable $228,720.
- Manchester: Milford
Milford is particularly safe in terms of property crime compared to the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, recording 5.87 property crimes per 1,000 residents, along with 0.5 violent crimes per 1,000 residents — a 49% drop from last year.
As a small bonus, healthcare costs are also slightly cheaper in this Manchester suburb compared to the national average.
- Newark: Tom’s River
Compared to the other top suburbs in the country, Tom’s River is remarkably safe. It boasts the twelfth-lowest violent crime rate, with 0.53 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Additionally, the Tom’s River Regional School District earned a solid B grade from Niche for overall quality. Tom’s River’s proximity to Jersey Shore beaches is an added bonus.
- Albuquerque: Rio Rancho
With 2.08 violent crimes and 16.4 property crimes per 1,000 residents, this Albuquerque suburb isn’t known for being particularly safe. However, the median home list price in Rio Rancho is relatively inexpensive compared to the other top suburbs in America, coming in at $228,261.
- Buffalo: North Tonawanda
- New York City: Neconset
Despite its home in the Empire State, which is notorious for expensive housing, North Tonawanda is in the top 20 for affordable housing among all the top suburbs listed on GOBankingRates’ list. The average home list price in this Buffalo suburb is $184,521. In comparison, the median list price in Nesconset — New York City’s best suburb — is the list’s eighth highest, at $531,529.
- Charlotte: Harrisburg
- Durham: Carrboro
- Raleigh: Clayton
- Winston-Salem: Clemmons
Among the top suburbs in North Carolina, Clayton has the cheapest housing costs, with a median home list price of $250,443. However, Carrboro is home to the best school district: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools received an extraordinary A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality.
- Fargo: West Fargo
Residents of West Fargo pay the fourth-lowest combined cost for groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation compared to the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, at $17,266.96 per year. Healthcare expenses in West Fargo are especially cheap, costing $4,440.02 annually — a significant 14.5% below the national average.
- Cincinnati: Sharonville
- Cleveland: Mayfield Heights
- Columbus: Pataskala
Families living in the top Ohio suburbs can save a pretty penny on groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation. Mayfield Heights and Pataskala rank No. 2 and No. 9, respectively, for the cheapest non-housing necessities among all the best suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Residents of these three suburbs pay under $18,000 per year, on average, for those things.
- Oklahoma City: Moore
- Tulsa: Sand Springs
At $151,405, Sand Springs has the sixth-lowest median home list price compared to all the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Moore residents don’t need to be too envious, though — Oklahoma City’s best suburb has the ninth-lowest median home list price, at $159,215, and a school district rated B-plus for overall quality.
- Portland: Sherwood
Sherwood, the top suburb of Portland, witnesses 0.61 violent crimes and 5.13 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The median home list price in this area is $503,711. Residents can expect to pay $19,715 per year, on average, for non-housing necessities such as groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation.
- Philadelphia: Lansdale
- Pittsburgh: Lower Burrell
The top suburb of Pittsburgh experiences 7.71 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is in the 25th percentile for lowest property crime rate among all the best suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Lower Burrell is also cheaper than Lansdale when it comes to non-housing living expenses. However, the North Penn School District in Lansdale boasts a phenomenal A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality, standing head and shoulders above the B-plus grade earned by the Lower Burrell School District.
- Providence: East Providence
While East Providence is the best suburb in the Providence area, it’s still relatively expensive overall. On top of that, the East Providence School District scrapes by with a C-plus grade from Niche for overall quality. However, there’s one bright spot: Healthcare costs in East Providence are 15.5% cheaper than the national average.
- Charleston: Goose Creek
- Columbia: Lexington
Columbia’s top suburb offers slightly cheaper housing costs than the best suburb in the Charleston area. For example, the median home list price in Lexington is about $7,000 cheaper than the average home price in Goose Creek. However, Goose Creek is decidedly safer, experiencing approximately 2.45 violent crimes and 22.29 property crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 3.63 violent crimes and 30.59 property crimes — the lists’ sixth-highest — that Lexington residents face.
- Sioux Falls: Brandon
Brandon was the safest suburb out of all the places on GOBankingRates’ 2019 list. This year, it drops to sixth-safest for property crimes and plummets to 40th-safest out 85 suburbs on the current GOBankingRates list. To its credit, the Brandon Valley School District maintained its spectacular A grade from Niche for overall quality.
- Knoxville: Maryville
- Memphis: Germantown
- Nashville: Gallatin
The top three suburbs in Tennessee are appealing in their own respective ways. Maryville offers the cheapest median home list price and overall cost for nonhousing necessities — at $229,927 and $17,889.79 per year, respectively — as well as one of only two school districts with an A grade for overall quality. Germantown is the safest, experiencing 0.77 violent crimes.
- Austin: Hutto
- Dallas: Royce City
- El Paso: Horizon City
- Houston: Deer Park
- San Antonio: Cibolo
Compared to the other top suburbs in America, Horizon City is extraordinarily inexpensive when it comes to housing costs, providing the complete suburb list’s second-lowest median home list price, at $140,676. Hutto also isn’t a bad choice for Texas residents. This top Austin suburb experiences the lowest crime rate of all the best Texas suburbs, with 0.42 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 3.29 property crimes — the lowest of any suburb on the GOBankingRates list.
- Salt Lake City: Riverton
Riverton has one of the highest median home list prices among the top suburbs in America, at $475,882. The cost of non-housing necessities is also high, at $19,132.56. In terms of safety, Riverton falls within the top third of all suburbs on the list for violent crime, but it’s in the bottom third for property crimes. Still, Riverton stands as the top suburb in the Salt Lake City area.
- Burlington: South Burlington
Luckily for South Burlington residents, transportation costs are almost 25% cheaper than the national average, coming in at $4,594.32 per year. That means parents in this Burlington suburb can save money when they’re shuttling their children to the South Burlington School District, which earned an excellent A grade from Niche for overall quality.
- Richmond: Colonial Heights
- Virginia Beach: Poquoson
Colonial Heights Public Schools in Colonial Heights and Poquoson City Public Schools in Poquoson both earned a B-plus from Niche for overall quality, so parents can rest easy when it comes to their children’s education. However, to cut costs, they should head to Richmond: Colonial Heights is cheaper in terms of median home list price and overall living expenses.
- Seattle: Lake Stevens
- Spokane: Spokane Valley
Out of all the top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, Spokane Valley charges the third-cheapest overall cost for non-housing necessities such as groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation. However, Washington residents should keep in mind that Lake Stevens — the top suburb in the Seattle area — is much safer than Spokane Valley, which experiences over three times as many property crimes.
- Huntington: Hurricane
The median home list price in Hurricane is relatively inexpensive compared to the other top suburbs in the U.S., coming in at $193,457. This Huntington suburb also offers utility costs that are 13% cheaper than the national average. However, grocery and healthcare costs are just slightly above average.
- Madison: Sun Prairie
- Milwaukee: Hartford
Compared to Sun Prairie, Hartford offers cheaper housing costs, with a median list price of $251,815. In Madison’s top suburb, the average home costs $303,785. However, with its stellar A-minus grade for overall quality, the Sun Prairie Area School District is slightly superior to the Hartford Joint 1 School District, which received a B-plus.
- Rock Springs: Green River
As the best suburb in Wyoming, the Green River community has transportation costs that are over 23% cheaper than the national average, as well as utilities that are slightly less expensive. The median home list price in this Rock Springs suburb is $247,454.
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Grace Lin contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in each state and evaluated cities within each MSA with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 (“suburbs”) along the following criteria: (1) violent crime rate per 1,000 residents and (2) property crime rate per 1,000 residents, both sourced from Neighborhood Scout; (3) typical home value price, sourced from Zillow’s November 2020 index; (4) annual cost-of-living expenditures, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey and local cost-of-living indices sourced from Sperling’s Best Places; (6) school district score, based on Niche’s 2020 Best School District index; each school district had an alphabetical grade (A+ through F), which was converted into a numerical value in order to score. All these factors were scored, summed up (with factors (1) and (3) weighted one and a half times the other factors) and then ranked from best to worst for each major MSA in all 50 states. The list of cities came from U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. The population minimum was relaxed for select low-population states. Suburbs must be within 45 miles driving distance of the principal city per Google Maps. All data was collected on and up to date as of Dec. 28-30, 2020.