The seven best affordable cities to start a family

For young families, many major metro areas can be tough given their high cost of living, crime statistics, and public school quality. These seven combine affordability, low crime, and a wide array of family-friendly activities.

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    Worker Raymond Solis is reflected in the sculpture 'Cloud Gate' as he polishes it to remove fingerprints in Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. If you can bear the cold, Chicago is a fantastically affordable city.
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Looking to start a family? Many major metro areas can be tough choices, given their high cost of living, crime statistics, and public school quality. So, we've dug a little deeper to uncover seven U.S. metro areas that offer the best environments for starting a family.

1. Virginia Beach, Virginia

If you're looking to mix business with pleasure at an affordable price, Virginia Beach is an option that should be within your consideration. With several large companies in and around the area, along with a plethora of government opportunities nearby, the economy is strong and the property values are solid with an average home price of roughly $240,000. Plus, wouldn't you love to take your kids to the ocean every weekend without having to board a plane or endure a long car ride?

2. Chicago, Illinois

If you can bear the cold (it gets and stays well below freezing for weeks during the winter), Chicago is a fantastically affordable city, relative to its size and offerings. Its many amenities will keep your entire family entertained no matter what your interests. And itshousing costs are among the lowest of any metropolitan area in the country, with an average home price of about $230,000.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city on the rise, quickly becoming a top education and health care center. These two industries have stabilized and grown an economy that once relied on the steel industry. The city's many museums, active waterfront, nearby natural areas, sports teams, parks, and festivals make it a wonderfully diverse area for families. The average home price in Pittsburgh is approximately $230,000.

4. Nashville, Tennessee

Music City is one of the greatest areas of innovation and arts in the country at the moment. People from all over the world are visiting and moving there thanks to the vibrant cultural and local business scene. It's no wonder that celebrities who want a lower profile and a high quality of life are buying homes in Nashville. It also happens to be a winner for families and kids, thanks to all of its culture and natural beauty. Average home prices are still a bargain here at about $205,000.

5. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison is a top pick for those who love the vibrant energy and cultural opportunity of a university town. Complete with one of the best farmer's markets in the country, a tight-knit community feel, and award-winning family-friendly attractions, Madison is an ideal place for families. Median home prices in Madison are some of the most affordable in the country at around $195,000.

6. Austin, Texas

"Keeping it weird" is Austin's motto, and they own it. This is a "come as you are" kind of town and known for its friendly, supportive vibe. Here, originality and creativity are highly encouraged and celebrated. Austin offers mild winters, some of the best music in the country, plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and a growing economy based in the technology sector. Typical housing costs hover around $345,000. Though this is more expensive than most of the other areas on this list, it's still a far cry cheaper than places like New York City and San Francisco.

7. Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Like Madison, Chapel Hill is also rich with university town resources, but its winter is more moderate than Wisconsin's. As part of the Research Triangle, the economy is strong, and like many of the other cities on this list, it has a community vibe to match. Chapel Hill's calendar is loaded with kid-friendly events, and it boasts dozens of places to stage them, including its numerous gardens and parks. Median home prices are closer to Austin's at about $330,000.

If the time is right to start a family and you're looking for a new city to begin that adventure, this list offers a strong starting point for your search. Curious about how the cost of living between different cities compares? Check out this cost of living comparison tool to find out.

In which cities are you considering starting a family?

This article is from Christa Avampato of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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