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The Best Places For Young Families in Arizona

When it comes to picturesque, wide open spaces, Arizona is one of a kind. Because of its proximity to so many national parks and mountains, the state is a place where young people yearning for vibrant, active lifestyles can start and grow their families. Besides its beauty, affordable housing is available and unemployment rates for those between the ages of 25 and 44 — common ages for starting a family — are generally low, which indicates good job opportunities and potential for a higher quality of life. It’s also helpful to know the basics about minimum mortgage requirements from various federal and private-sector lending agencies as you get started on your search in Arizona. Below, researchers at LendingTree compiled a list of the best places for young families in Arizona.

Key takeaways

  • Snowflake is the best place to raise a family in Arizona, based on our analysis, with a final score of 69.9.
  • Doney Park and Paradise Valley take the second and third spots with final scores of 69.4 and 69.2, respectively.
  • On the other end of the list, we found Eloy to be the most challenging place for young families in Arizona, with a score of 45.7.
  • South Tucson and Florence finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 47.3 and 49.6, respectively.

The top 10 cities to live in Arizona

#1 Snowflake

Located in north-central Arizona, Snowflake is a family-friendly town with children living in nearly half (47.3%) of the households. About 74% of these families own their homes, and the household median income is $61,681. Median housing costs come to $843 per month. The unemployment rate is 3.1% for those 25 to 44 years old, below Arizona’s statewide jobless level of 4.8% in December 2018. Every teenager aged 16 to 19 is either in school or has a high school diploma, suggesting that the school system in Snowflake is good quality. It takes the average worker about 22 minutes to commute to work.

#2 Doney Park

Doney Park is a quiet place with beautiful views of San Francisco Peaks and Sunset Crater Volcano. Median income for households with children is $111,985 and 81.6% of these families own their homes. Median housing cost is $1,425 per month and about 33% of households have children. About 50 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, residents in Doney Park can enjoy an active lifestyle with endless outdoor activities for the family. There is a 0.6% unemployment rate among those aged 25 to 44, and 100% of teenagers between 16 and 19 are either in high school or have graduated. It takes the average worker 21.3 minutes to get to work.

#3 Paradise Valley

A few miles from Phoenix, a quiet affluent community called Paradise Valley sits near the serene sights of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, McDowell Mountains and the iconic Mummy and Camelback peaks. If you live in Paradise Valley, you and your neighbors likely make a healthy living — median income for households with children in Paradise Valley is $250,001 — the highest on this list — and median monthly housing cost is $2,639. More than 92% of families with children own their homes but only 28.7% of Paradise Valley households have children. There is a 1.6% unemployment rate for residents between 25 and 44, and 2.4% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are neither in school nor have their high school diploma. It takes the average worker about 23 minutes to commute for work.

#4 Page

It doesn’t cost much to live in Page, Arizona — about $903 monthly for housing — which is great news for young families. The median income for households with children in Page is $49,438, half of all households have children and 54.3% of these families own their homes. Among residents aged 25 to 44 years old, there is a steep 10.3% unemployment rate — a noteworthy number that indicates a tougher job market than other cities on this list. Every teenager aged 16 to 19 is either in school or has graduated from high school. The commute time for the average worker living in Page is around 11 minutes, which is less than half the commute time for the average worker in the U.S.

#5 Sierra Vista Southeast

With its vast skies and mountain-range views, Sierra Vista is a great option for outdoor adventures and activities that families can enjoy together. In late 2018, Sierra Vista was voted as one of the best places to retire in America by the Where to Retire publication for factors like affordable housing, easy access to metropolitan areas and a temperate climate. In contrast to the town’s appeal to retirees, just 28.6% of its households have children. Median income for households with children is $72,888 and nearly 80% of these families own their homes. The median housing cost is $864 per month. The unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is 2.9%. There is 0.2% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 who are not enrolled in high school but have no diploma. The average commute time for workers living in Sierra Vista is roughly 24 minutes.

#6 Thatcher

The small college town of Thatcher, 125 miles northeast of Tucson, is economical for young people who want to start or grow their family. About 57% of households with children own their homes and spend $824 per month in median housing costs. The median income for households with children is $60,583 and about 35% have children. The unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds is 1.9%. Statistically, zero teens aged 16 to 19 are not enrolled in high school or already have a high school diploma, which indicates good school quality in Thatcher. It takes the average worker about 18 minutes to commute for work.

#7 Holbrook

Home to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert, Holbrook is a small town rich in culture and history. For young families considering a Holbrook home, about 39% of households here have children and pay just $623 in housing costs monthly. The median income for households with children is $42,885 and about 60% of these families own their homes. Some caveats: a 4.2% unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds and 4% rate of teenagers aged 16 to 19 not enrolled in school and without a high school diploma also exist in this town. It takes the average worker living in Holbrook about 15 minutes to commute to work.

#8 Catalina Foothills

Sitting at the southern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the affluent town of Catalina Foothills is a scenic place to call home. The median income for families with children is $138,393 and about 79% of these families own their homes. Just 20.2% of all households in Catalina Foothills have children, and they spend $1,180 in median housing costs monthly. There is a 4% unemployment rate among those between the ages of 25 and 44 here, and 2.7% of teenagers between 16 and 19 are not enrolled in or graduated from high school. The average worker spends 23 minutes commuting to work daily.

#9 Douglas

The small town of Douglas sits at the border of Arizona and Mexico with beautiful scenery and a rich history. Median income for households with children is $34,453 but still, about 54% of these families own their homes. Median monthly housing cost is $571. Families with children make up 47.3% of all households in Douglas. Take note that 8% of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are not in high school and do not have a diploma. The unemployment rate for residents between the ages of 25 and 44 is on the lower side — 1.6%, which indicates good job opportunities. The average worker travels about 16 minutes every day.

#10 Rio Rico

In Santa Cruz County, Rio Rico offers families several options for state parks and lakes. The cost of living is $899 monthly for housing. Median household income is $48,225 for households with children, and nearly 51% of households in Rio Rico have children. About 76% of these families own their homes. The unemployment rate is a fairly steep 4.3% for residents between the ages of 25 and 44 — the most common ages for parents of young families. There are 0.8% of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 who are not enrolled in school but have no diploma. Residents travel about 29 minutes daily to get to work.

Understanding the rankings

We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 3,444 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 a place with 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: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and perhaps important for a family looking to buy, more practical.
  • Unemployment rate of 25-44 year olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggest a higher quality of life, locally. We focus 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 not 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 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 that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents 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 were given a value according to their 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 in Arizona with populations of at least 3,444.

 

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