I kind of feel for the cities scraping at the very bottom of Parenting magazine’s Top 100 Family Friendly U.S. Cities list. For starters, I’m raising my kids in No. 97. Though you’ll hear nothing but complaints from me about my adopted hometown, especially when it comes to being a place to raise kids, I still feel kind of defensive.
I mean, it’s all relative, right? Who’s to say what makes a city great, right? What’s the big deal about parkland, pediatricians, low crime rates and affordable housing? They’re just kids, right? Anyway, this year’s No. 91 was last year’s No. 8! 2011’s very worst city for raising families is home to the happiest place on Earth! That’ll make you cast a suspicious eye on the whole city ranking enterprise.
But Parenting had its reasons and its rubric. See what you think.
The 10 lowest ranked cities in Parenting magazine’s 100 Top U.S. Cities for Raising Families (look out American Southwest!)
How do these cities compare to the Top 10 in the nation?
Photo: SundayKofax via flickr
91. Los Angeles 1 of 10Dirty, expensive, public schools rank as some of the worst in the nation. Sure, there are pockets of charm, but it'll cost you.
92. Scottsdale, Ariz. 2 of 10Last year's No. 8 is this year's No. 92. The American Southwest dominates the bottom of this list.
93. Arlington, Texas 3 of 10Home to the Dallas Cowboys and Six Flags amusement parks. But those kid-pleasers aren't enough to rank this city as anything but a marginal place to start a family.
94. Mesa, Ariz. 4 of 10Just outside of Phoenix, Mesa offers year-round sunny weather, outdoorsy activities and Old West charm. Still, the cost of living and an iffy job market keep it low on the list.
95. Las Vegas 5 of 10Baby, Las Vegas is no place for a baby. Hit hard by the recession, cuts to schools and a considerable unemployment rate keep Sin City off the list of greats.
96. Fresno, Calif. 6 of 10Dirty air, a housing bust and in a state that slashes the education budget with zeal all keep Fresno in the bottom 5.
97. Long Beach, Calif. 7 of 10Home to the largest port in the nation, Long Beach is on the receiving end of cargo ship and long-haul truck pollution. It's also expensive, sort of dangerous and except for a pretty neat aquarium, doesn't have a lot going on for kids.
98. Bakersfield, Calif. 8 of 10Sure, it's got claim to all the outlaw country music greats. But it's dirty, has a high crime rate and also suffered in the recent housing bust. As for schools? Again, it's California.
99. Riverside, Calif. 9 of 10Yet another California city, so we're going to hit repeat: crime, unemployment, underfunded schools, riddled with foreclosures and the rest of the fallout from the housing bubble.
100. Anaheim, Calif. 10 of 10Home to Disneyland, aka: the Happiest Place on Earth. But only those families who can afford it's steep entry free get to feel the happy. While Anaheim also suffers the woes of most SoCal towns, and has earned its crazy low ranking, if Parenting had a cheap, good, unpretentious, authentic international eats category, this city would knock out even the best. Eat up, kids.
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