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Best Places to Live For Young Families in Virginia

When people say “Virginia is for Lovers,” what they really mean is Virginia is for lovers of beaches, lush landscapes, mountains and history. With a per-capita personal income that was 107% of the national average in 2017, Virginia may also be for lovers of comfortable salaries and communities with strong resources. Parents should analyze many items when thinking about settling down in a new area and potentially securing a mortgage. Researchers at LendingTree considered several factors — including housing costs, school systems and average commute times — when compiling this list of the best places for young families to live in Virginia. Here’s what they found.

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Key takeaways

  • Bridgewater is the best place to raise a family in Virginia, with a final score of 72.9.
  • Wyndham and Floris take the second and third spots with final scores of 71.4 and 70.2, respectively.
  • On the other end of the list, we found Emporia to be the most challenging place for young families in Virginia, with a final score of 36.5.
  • Bailey’s Crossroads and Franklin finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 39.2 and 41.4, respectively.

The top 10 cities to live in Virginia

#1 Bridgewater

From its natural beauty — including the Allegheny Mountains to the west and Blue Ridge Mountains to the east — to the cultural offerings near Bridgewater College, this town has plenty for young families to enjoy. Despite Bridgewater families having the lowest income of all others on our top 10 list, at $89,853, the town has many other perks, such as low housing costs of $826 monthly, a short commute time of 16 minutes on average and a low unemployment rate of 0.9% for 25- to 44-year-olds. About 25% of households in Bridgewater have children and, among that group, close to 84% own their homes. Every teenager aged 16 to 19 is either enrolled in or has graduated from high school, according to our data, which speaks to a strong educational system.

#2 Wyndham

Wyndham is one of the best places to live in Virginia for affluent young families. About half of the families who live in Wyndham have kids, and 92% own their homes. The median annual income for households with children is $186,563, and families pay $2,129 in monthly housing costs. Despite all the qualities that make Wyndham a great place for families to call home, the city has an unemployment rate of 3.6% among 25- to 44-year-olds, which is the highest on our top 10 list. In addition, 1.8% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are not attending high school and have not graduated.

#3 Floris

Families with children living in Floris have the highest income of all others on this list, bringing in a median annual amount of $212,984. They also travel an average of nearly 30 minutes to these high-paying jobs. Those fat incomes do come at a price; the cost of living in Floris is high, and the median monthly housing costs total $2,747. This isn’t the highest cost of living on the list, however, so Floris incomes can still go relatively far. One percent of 25- to 44-year-olds living in Floris are unemployed, and 2.3% of the city’s older teens are not enrolled in high school and have not graduated. This means the educational environment may be slightly more challenging here than it is for most of the other places on this list.

#4 Mantua

As a suburb of Washington, D.C., Mantua is a great place for young families who want to be close to our nation’s capital but still benefit from small-town perks. Located in Fairfax County, Mantua is an affluent community with a 0% unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds. Households with children have a median annual income of $206,544, 73% of these families own their homes and every older teenager is either in school or has a high school degree. Families living in Mantua spend $2,156 in monthly housing costs, and 36.4% of households include children. The commute time clocks in at an average of 29 minutes.

#5 Broadlands

Broadlands is a place for nature lovers. Built on more than 1,500 acres with nearby woodland trails, wetlands and wildlife preserves, the town features large open spaces for a variety of outdoor activities. The median family income here is $182,049, and nearly 89% of families are homeowners. A hefty 66% of all households living in Broadlands include children, which suggests the community is a great place for a family looking to buy a home. One downside is the 2% unemployment rate for residents aged 25 to 44, although this is still a relatively low rate overall. The average commute time is also on the higher side, at just under 35 minutes.

#6 Innsbrook

Developed 30 years ago to draw large corporations and small startups, Innsbrook has become a great place for families who enjoy the small town vibe yet still want to be close to the capital of Richmond. The median household income for families with children is $115,781, and 38.4% of all families in Innsbrook have kids. The unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds is 1.9%. The school system is strong, with 100% of 16- to 19-year-olds either attending school or having high school diplomas. Residents spend $1,317 monthly on housing costs, and 71.5% of all families are homeowners. The average commute time for residents is quite reasonable at 22 minutes.

#7 Short Pump

Short Pump got its unique name from a quirky fixture outside a popular tavern in the 1800s. With its proximity to the state’s capital, Short Pump today is a bustling suburban city with a median family income of $140,442. Seventy-four percent of families in Short Pump own their homes, and the median monthly housing cost is $1,529. About 38.4% of all households include children. The job market is fairly healthy for young families; the unemployment rate for people aged 25 to 44 is 1.3%. However, the school system may not be as strong as it is in the other areas on our list, as 2.6% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are not enrolled in high school and don’t have a degree.

#8 Belmont

To the east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Belmont sits near Virginia’s border with Maryland. Young families interested in Belmont must be willing to shell out $3,091 monthly for housing costs – higher than any other place on this list. That said, the median annual income for families is also high, at $201,679. Nearly 65% of all households include children and, among those families, more than 90% are homeowners. One thing that residents may not brag about is the average commute time, which clocks in at 35 minutes — the highest on our list. There is also an unemployment rate of 2.3% among adults aged 25 to 44.

#9 Massanetta Springs

Families with children living in Massanetta Springs earn a medium income of $102,656, which is on the lower end compared to other places on this list. However, the median monthly housing cost, at $1,438, is also relatively low. The unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds is the second highest on the list, at 3.2%. This suggests money could be tight for some residents. However, close to 84% of families are homeowners. Another clear bright spot in Massanetta Springs is the average commute time, which is the second lowest of all 10 places on the list, at 18 minutes. About 32% of households here have children, and most stay in school. More than 99% of older teenagers are either enrolled in school or have earned their high school degrees.

#10 Dranesville

Located in Fairfax County, Dranesville has the highest rate of family homeownership of all areas on our top 10 list, at 94%. Median monthly housing costs total $2,460, and these costs are covered through a median family income of $181,202. Residents travel an average of 30 minutes to get to work, which is relatively high but far from the longest commute time on the list. Thirty-eight percent of all households here include children, and just less than 99% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are either in school or have their degrees. Just 0.7% of residents aged 25 to 44 are unemployed.

Understanding the rankings

We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 5,000 people in the state for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used are:

Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests good job opportunities and a community with more resources.

Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new childcare expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.

Homeownership rate of families with children: A high rate indicates homeownership is more common and, perhaps more importantly for a family looking to buy, more practical.

Unemployment rate of 25-44 year olds: A low rate indicates the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life, locally. We focused on 25-44 year olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.

Percentage of 16-19 year olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and therefore school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but it is well-correlated.

Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less-stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.

Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and residents who are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.

Methodology

Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to its relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 5,000.

 

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