To pinpoint the best small places to raise a family, Forbes
looked at quality-of-life measures that make living easier for families. They started with the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau on all Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas with a population under 100,000. That left them with 126 cities, which Forbes ranked on five measures.
Short commute times improve family life because they give working parents more time at home with their kids, so Forbes scored cities on the percentage of residents that spent an hour or more getting to work in the morning: the lower the better. Since educational outcomes are a key consideration of families looking to relocate, they ranked cities on the percentage of adults aged 25 and older that had at least a high school degree. They also scored cities on median household income, the rate of home ownership, and housing affordability, for which we used median housing costs as a percentage of income as a proxy. Forbes then averaged the rankings across these measures to arrive at final scores. When cities were tied in rank, they used the rate of homeownership to break the tie.
The choice of where to settle down and bring up youngsters is based on a number of complex and personal factors, many of which can't be measured in a ranked list. But things like affordability, education and jobs are often among them -- and these 10 off-the-radar metros have a great deal to offer.