The Best Places for Young Families in Nevada
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Starting a family? If so, you’ve probably remade your wish list, and that includes finding a place to live. Now, it’s not about locating that just-right home (even if it’s only semi-affordable); it’s more about finding reasonable housing in a community where the job market is stable, families with kids are nearby, good schools abound (as do parks and recreational opportunities) and the commute isn’t a chronic headache.
With cities such as Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada still carries a reputation for glamour, gambling Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census and nightlife, but it also offers communities in which buying a home is affordable relative to income, high school graduation rates are excellent and most families own homes. As the seventh largest state by area — but sparsely populated — Nevada also offers a chance for plenty of open space and outdoor recreation, including access to Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead, Reno’s hot-air balloon festival and Old West theme parks. To find the Nevada community that might work for you, see the list below from researchers at LendingTree who reviewed the state’s best places for young families.
- Spring Creek is the best place to raise a family in Nevada, with a final score of 67.9.
- Ely and Spanish Springs take the second and third spots, with final scores of 67.6 and 64.9, respectively.
- On the other end of the list, we found Winchester to be the most challenging place for young families in Nevada, with a final score of 35.7.
- Fallon and Silver Springs finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 39.0 and 41.6, respectively.
The top 10 cities to live in Nevada
No. 1: Spring Creek
A suburb of Elko, Spring Creek is located in the northeast corner of Nevada at the base of the Ruby Mountains. This community of about 12,000 residents is, uniquely, managed by a homeowners association and, as such, has numerous activities for families, such as a 32-acre marina. Spring Creek has the highest median income for any Nevada city in our survey, $106,343 per year, but it also has higher housing costs, a median of $1,312 per month. Still, some 37% of residents have children, and 85.1% of families with children own homes. One potential downside to living here: The commute time averages 46.5 minutes, the longest for any community in our survey.
No. 2: Ely
A former railroad and mining town steeped in Western history, Ely is a small city in central Nevada near the Utah border. Families here have access to nearby Great Basin National Park, the Lehman Caves and 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak, Nevada’s second-highest mountain. Housing costs, meanwhile, are low, a median of $653 per month, and almost 58% of families with children own homes. The biggest potential drawback to living here? An unemployment rate of 6.5%, the highest for any top 10 Nevada city.
No. 3: Spanish Springs
Located about 25 minutes northeast of Reno, Spanish Springs offers residents a small-town vibe but with easy access to big city amenities and job prospects. At about $92,000 per year, the median household income for families is high, but housing here isn’t as affordable as it is in top-ranked Spring Creek, where families typically earn more. Still, in Spanish Springs, homeownership among families with children is strong, nearly 80%, and well over one-third of households have children, a strong sign of established schools and plentiful recreation. This community is close enough to Reno to benefit from that city’s diversifying job market, in areas such as technology, but the flip side is the commute time: 28.2 minutes on average.
No. 4: Elko
With a population of about 20,000, Elko, in northeastern Nevada, is one of the larger communities on LendingTree’s top 10 list. Like the area around it, this high desert city has a history of railroads, mining and ranching but now offers employers in tourism, education and health care. Household income is relatively high here, a median of $81,274 per year. Nearly 40% of residents have children, and about 63% of families with children own homes, signs of a family-friendly community, which it is, offering amenities such as nine parks and affordable summer camps. Still, as in Spanish Springs, No. 3 on our list, Elko commuters may need to plan ahead: The average travel time is 29.1 minutes.
No 5: West Wendover
Located just a few miles from the Utah border, this small city is the only community in Nevada that is in the Mountain Time Zone (the rest of the state is on Pacific time). Housing costs are the second-lowest for a top 10 Nevada city, but so is the median household income of $48,399 per year. That may explain why only about one-third of families with children own homes. Job prospects appear good here, but the percentage of teens not enrolled or graduated from high school is 14.8%, one of the highest rates in our Nevada survey overall. Two potentially big pluses to moving here: an average commute time of just eight minutes and the fact that West Wendover is one of two Nevada communities where more than half of households have children.
No. 6: Summerlin South
Only one of two Las Vegas-area cities to make this list, Summerlin South — home to some 24,000 residents — is a suburb about 20 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip. It has our survey’s second-highest median income for families with children, $105,814 per year, but proximity to Las Vegas makes for high housing costs, a median $1,604 per month. Only a quarter of households have children here, but the family homeownership rate is relatively high, and virtually all local teens are enrolled in school or have graduated. Like many Nevada communities, Summerlin South now offers jobs in a broader range of industries, such as health care and retail.
No. 7: Gardnerville
This small western Nevada city, home to about 5,600 residents, is about a half-hour from Carson City, the state capital, and about the same distance from Lake Tahoe, popular for swimming, boating and skiing. For young families, Gardnerville offers a low unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds, a strong high school graduation rate and a reasonable commute time. A little more than one-third of families with children own homes here, possibly because the median household income, $58,686 per year, is on the lower end for a top 10 city in Nevada.
No. 8: Sun Valley
This small city on the outskirts of Reno, just 15 miles from the California border, is not to be confused with the glitzy Idaho ski town that bears the same name. Now home to about 20,000 residents, Sun Valley has enjoyed strong population growth lately. It’s certainly a family-friendly community; more than 40% of households have children, and of that group, almost 60% own homes. Housing costs, meanwhile, are the third-lowest for a top 10 city, and the high school graduation rate is stellar. The downside: Sun Valley has the lowest household income for a top 10 community, and unemployment among 25- to 44-year-olds stands at nearly 5%.
No. 9: Cold Springs
Another Reno suburb, Cold Springs has a high rate of homeownership for families with children, more than 77%. This small city of some 8,500 residents also has a high median family household income, and 36.8% of residents have children. Cold Springs is smaller than nearby Sun Valley but offers similar access to Reno’s employment and entertainment opportunities and Lake Tahoe’s outdoor activities. The commute, however, is longer here, a half-hour on average, and 4.3% of older teens are not enrolled or graduated from high school.
No. 10: Enterprise
With about 108,000 residents, Enterprise is a mid-sized city located about 15 miles south of Las Vegas. That kind of proximity helps explain why the median household income for Enterprise families with children is $76,181, and unemployment is relatively low, 3.4%. Housing costs help explain why Enterprise came in last on our ranking: a median of $1,387 per month. That’s more than what residents pay in higher-income areas, such as Spring Creek, ranked No. 1 on our list. Higher housing costs may explain why only about half of Enterprise families with children own homes.
Understanding the rankings
We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 3,077 people in Nevada for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used were:
- Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests a place with good job opportunities and a community with more resources.
- Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new child care expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
- Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and — perhaps important for a family looking to buy — more practical.
- Unemployment rate of 25- to 44-year-olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life locally. We focused on 25- to 44-year-olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.
- Percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and, therefore, school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but is well-correlated.
- Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.
- Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.
Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to its relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 3,077.