With around 11% of Americans have moved during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on 2022’s ‘Best & Worst States to Raise a Family,’ could help you decide if you are indeed planning to move this year.
To determine the best states in which to put down family roots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 51 key indicators of family-friendliness. The data set ranges from the median annual family income to housing affordability to the unemployment rate.
What should families consider when choosing a place to set down roots?
“Families typically consider personal and practical matters when deciding where to set down roots. Factors such as where extended family members are located and where parents’ jobs are based are often primary concerns. However, changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic have led many people to re-assess where they live. Many people have questioned whether they want to remain in their current jobs, and remote working arrangements have disconnected employment locations from their residences…Families also consider the cost of living; the space that they can afford; whether they want to live in an urban center, the suburbs, exurbs, or rural areas; as well as the lifestyle and resources that each community can offer,” according to Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP, a professor and chair of psychology at Roosevelt University.
“In the end, each family must assess its priorities. What do we value the most? Education, outdoor activities, liberal/conservative/libertarian ideologies, rural land vs. walkable city, etc. If contemplating a move, the salary must be considered in the context of community fit, affordability, and quality of life,” added Preston A. Britner, Ph.D., a University teaching fellow, and professor at the University of Connecticut.
To what degree is a child’s development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the state in which they live? How?
“Overall, neighborhoods and communities have major impacts on children’s development. Neighborhood safety, school quality, air and water quality, green space, economic opportunities for parents, access to quality food, and positive social connections are the building blocks for children’s futures. Resource-rich communities can be found in all states, but states do have different cultures, and from those cultures, differing family policies have emerged,” said Heidi Stolz, Ph.D., a professor, and director of parenting education lab at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
“State-level policies, political ideologies, and economic health can all have a big impact on family quality of life and child development outcomes … ZIP Codes within states might matter even more, in that median family income, tax policies, school quality, employment (rates, wages), housing (quality, affordability), health/safety, and environmental quality are localized,”
How can authorities make their states more attractive to young families?
“Young families desire and require access to quality health care, a range of human services, quality education, affordable and healthy food, and safe neighborhoods and homes. They are also looking for a sense of belonging in their community, so family-centered activities and opportunities are important to them,” said Theresa J. Russo, Ph.D., CFLE, a special assistant to the provost and professor at the State University of New York at Oneonta.
“To attract young families, states can invest in education, and cultivate and feature other family-friendly resources for which they would like to be known. But the real issue isn’t “attracting” families, as those families presumably have enough of their basic needs met that they can choose their location. The real issue is providing high-quality building blocks to the families who already reside in the state, and particularly to those who were not able to select a resource-rich community,” Stolz added.