Top States To Live In If You Have Children

Certainly, most parents want what's best for their kids and for the next generation to enjoy better lives than the ones they lead. And while they can do everything possible to provide kids with all the tools they'll need within the home, external factors also play a part in development. But, as you might expect, none of the 50 states are equal in the elements that give children the best chance at success.

Business Insider looked at factors that predict future success and found that influences from in the home are undoubtedly influential to a child's development. And, of course, advocates and critics of homeschooling still disagree about how the practice impacts kids' social development, according to The Harvard Gazette. But if you're looking to give your child a jump start on success, you want to make sure location isn't one of the factors standing in their way. Where you choose to raise your family impacts your access to education, cost of living, and healthcare.

Best states for kids

While U.S. News does an annual report on the best states to live in, WalletHub chose to get more specific and look at the metrics that determine the best states for raising kids. The examination used 51 different determinants across the 50 states to identify the most ideal for raising kids. Among the key metrics are infant mortality, costs of childcare, the divorce rate, access to affordable housing, and the percentage of families living above and below the poverty line. 

The study used the 51 metrics to then score each state in eight specific areas: safety and health, childcare and education, median salary, affordability, numbers of families raising small children, violent crime rates, socioeconomics, and family fun.

In their report, Massachusetts got the best overall marks as friendly to families, while the list of runners-up included New York, Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska, followed by New Hampshire, Connecticut, Washington, North Dakota, and New Jersey. 

This family-specific list has a few big disparities from the U.S. News list. For example, WalletHub ranks New York second for families, while U.S. News ranks it #21 for places to live.

Wallethub's findings

There were some unexpected findings in the study once the results were tallied, including high scores for the state of Utah, which finished first as the state with the most families with young kids and the lowest divorce rates, which landed the state at #13 on Wallethub's list. Likewise, New Jersey made a strong showing with a 10th-place finish. The home of the Jersey Shore finished among the top five in multiple categories, including the lowest infant mortality rate, fewest divorces, fewest violent crimes, and highest median salary.

Other rankings were surprising. California, a state known for some of the most beautiful and sought-after real estate in the country, was kept from the top by nearly two dozen competitors, landing on the survey at 24. Sure, it led in the family fun category, but the cost of living kept it from the top. California got low marks in socioeconomics at 42nd and ranked even more dismally in childcare and education at 46th.

And, of course, you can't have a top without an eventual bottom. Scoring worst among all the states was Mississippi, which landed near the bottom (at 49th) in family fun, dead last in safety and health at 50th, and a dispiriting 47th in socioeconomics. Also bringing up the rear were New Mexico, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.