The 10 best small US cities for working parents

Being a parent is a job in itself. For working parents, it means that they are essentially working two jobs. Small cities in the US can be great for middle-class families who need to a bustling economy and a nurturing environment for their children. Which small cities are the best for working parents?

10. Wildwood, Missouri

Jeff Roberson/AP/File
A man walks into his polling place, Star Bridge Christian Center, before sunrise to cast his ballot in the general election Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Wildwood, Mo.

Being a parent is a job in itself, which means that most married Americans with children are essentially working two jobs. In fact, 63% of families with children have two parents in the labor force, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

When raising a family, working parents consider a variety of factors — such as their income potential, affordability, child care costs, quality of schools and the community. Since all of these are heavily dependent on where they live, NerdWallet analyzed nearly 1,000 places across the U.S. with populations from 25,000 to 100,000 to find the best small cities for working parents.

We looked at small cities because they are most often the places that offer the best environments for middle-class families. The places that topped our list are cities that offer the best mix of income potential, affordability and top-notch schools.

 If you’re a new or soon-to-be parent, be sure to check out NerdWallet’s Financial Guide for Parents for other resources, such as information on insuring your child, 529 savings plans, choosing child care and more.

Key findings

Southern suburbs are among the best. Tennessee is home to three of the best small cities for working parents — Brentwood, Franklin and Germantown — while Bentonville, Arkansas; Vestavia Hills and Madison, Alabama; and Wildwood, Missouri, are other Southern cities in the top 10. Characteristics shared by these suburbs include higher affordability relative to the rest of the nation and strong school districts.

Despite the high cost of living, the San Francisco Bay Area thrives. Los Altos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto all rank among the top 20 cities, thanks to very high average family incomes that partially offset the high cost of living, along with nationally renowned schools.

Child care costs are lowest in Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota. When both parents of young children are working, child care can be a significant expense. We included data in our analysis from Child Care Aware of America, which found that costs are lowest in those five states.

Wildwood boasts a perfect 10 rating at GreatSchools, which is great news for those with children — about 43% of the city’s households. The city is 30 miles west of St. Louis and offers families a plethora of parks and trails to enjoy. At the Elaine Rosi Academy in Wildwood, parents will find a variety of developmental resources for their young children.

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